13 February 2009

Israeli and Arab Children Suffer from Trauma

Israeli Children at the SOS Children's Village in Megadim
Children at the SOS Children's Village in Megadim, Israel
02/13/09 - Two physicians from Norway, the only Western doctors allowed into Gaza after Israel's attack of December 2008, won an award on February 10th for speaking out about the humanitarian crisis that they saw firsthand. As reported by Voice of America news, Norway's Freedom of Expression Tribute was given to Doctors Erik Rosse and Mads Gilbert. The two doctors labored in Gaza's Al-Shifa Hospital to give emergency medical aid to victims.


After 22 days of intense fighting between Palestine and Israel, hundreds were dead, and thousands of homes, schools and hospitals were damaged or destroyed. In an interview with an Arab journalist during the siege, Dr. Fosse reported that 25 percent of those killed were women and children. Israel also declares that its population has been under siege due to regular bombings for months.

SOS Teaches Peace

SOS Children's Villages is the world's largest charity focused on providing loving homes for orphaned and abandoned children. SOS operates 475 villages in 132 countries and believes that the protection of children transcends all borders and political circumstance.

SOS Children's Villages has been operating in the Palestinian Territories since 1968 and in Israel since 1977. Peace has always been a core value and teaching for SOS. Youths from Palestine and Israel have an established exchange program between the two SOS villages in Israel (Neradim and Megadim) and the two villages in the Palestinian Territories (Bethlehem and Rafah).

In the latest military action, the four SOS villages were not damaged, nor were SOS children physically injured. However, the conflict took a huge toll on the mental health of Jewish and Arab children alike. In the Gaza strip, SOS service providers have reached out to families providing food parcels, schooling and child care to 187 families including 900 children.

Evidence of Stress and Depression in Rafah

During the violence, the SOS Children's Village in Rafah remained unharmed. But communicating with families was extremely difficult for Ihsan Redwan, Coordinator of SOS's Gaza Family Programs which serves families in need beyond the SOS Village. She reports that all 900 children who receive program assistance remain psychologically disturbed by the trauma. "They are suffering from insomnia, nightmares that cause them to cry out in the night. They are bed-wetting, and experiencing health problems such as nausea and vomiting." SOS Children's Villages began to address these problems as soon as some calm returned to the area. A number of children watched their relatives die and many families who had fled their homes returned to find their houses demolished or reduced to rubble.

SOS Children's Village in Rafah maintains a medical center for local children, an SOS kindergarten, and a social center staffed by professionals trained to deal with children and trauma. This psychiatric expertise was recognized by Angelina Jolie, when she visited a Darfur refugee camp in Chad, and saw first-hand the assistance SOS was offering traumatized children. Jolie was so impressed that the Jolie-Pitt Foundation donated $333,000 to SOS Children’s Villages in Chad for this work.

If you would like to help a Palestinian or Israeli child, please consider sponsoring an SOS child.