For Immediate Release
Middle East Children’s Alliance Programs Address Trauma Faced by Children After 8 Days of Bombing in Gaza
WASHINGTON - The Middle East Children’s Alliance, (MECA) a California based nonprofit, immediately began providing mental health treatment for children once Operation Pillar of Cloud, the 8 day bombing of Gaza, came to a halt. Treatment programs began November 25, 2012 and are continuing in schools, community centers, and clinics throughout the Gaza Strip in coordination and partnership with the Red Crescent Society of the Gaza Strip.
“So much emphasis is placed on food and medicine in times of crisis, which is obviously needed and important. But the most important medicine we can give the children of Gaza is to help them understand their pain and move forward so they can have a healthy and happy lives,” stated Barbara Lubin, who entered Gaza last week. “This medicine does not come from taking a pill. It comes from committed professionals, like these amazing women here in Gaza. They are psychologists, social workers, teachers and art therapists, who spend each day healing the wounds of war.”
MECA has been providing programming for psycho- social support for Palestinian children in Gaza traumatized by war since Operation Cast Lead four years ago, when over four hundred children were killed and many more injured, through a project called “Let the Children Play and Heal.” MECA has now increased its support for these projects by expanding a partnership with the Red Crescent Society to provide more targeted treatment of children most affected: those whose homes were demolished, who witnessed bloodshed, and who lost family members, schoolmates and friends. Over 50% of Gaza’s population of 1.6 million are children.
One of the lead psychologists working on the project, a Palestinian woman with 23 years experience, stated, “Four years ago, children were more hesitant to talk about what they saw. But now, they are more expressive, they talk about stomach pains, sleeplessness and headaches. Initially, they do not admit they are afraid, they say ‘I didn’t feel afraid but I think my neighbor was afraid, or my sister was afraid.’” She added, “This time, I have noticed an increasing number of mothers who are seeking out our support for their children—there is no stigma anymore. They know that trauma is a problem and it has become a national issue for us.”
The Middle East Children's Alliance (MECA) is a non-profit organization working for the rights of children in the Middle East by sending humanitarian aid, supporting projects for children and educating North American and international communities about the effects of the US foreign policy on children in the region.
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Founded in 1988 by Barbara Lubin and Howard Levine, the Middle East Children's Alliance is a Berkeley-based non-profit humanitarian aid organization that has delivered more than $10 million in food, medicine and medical supplies to children in the West Bank and Gaza, Iraq and Lebanon. MECA also provides financial assistance to community groups working with children in the Palestine/Israel.