Day of solidarity with children of Gaza to be held on campus

Published January 13th, 2009 - 01:48 GMT

Day of solidarity with children of Gaza to be held on campus


More than 150 children from the Bourj Barajneh refugee camp participated in an AUB-organized "day of solidarity with the children of Gaza" on Sunday, January 11.


Designed by professors and researchers at the Faculty of Health Sciences at the American University of Beirut, the day of activities was part of "Qaderoon," a public health intervention for improving the well-being and mental health of the children of the Bourj al-Barajneh refugee camp.


Children held bake sales, sang, danced, recited poems, exhibited drawings and letters to the children of Gaza and put on sketches for them. The activities took place on campus, in Van Dyck Hall and grabbed the attention of the AUB community.


Qaderoon, which means "We are capable" in Arabic, is an intervention that is focused on social skills building (communication, problem solving, self esteem, self responsibility, getting along with peers, parents, …) with the intent to improve psychosocial health of kids aged 10-14 years.


Funded by the Wellcome Trust and designed and implemented by members of the Department of Health Behavior and Education and the Center for Research on Population and Health at AUB, the nine-month intervention started in August 2008 and targets around 200 kids. It consists of 45 sessions with the kids, 15 sessions with their parents, and 6 workshops with their teachers over one academic year. 


The day of solidarity was an impromptu activity that emerged in response to the horrific Gaza events, which had a direct impact on the refugee children here, lead researchers explained.


"The children have been horribly shaken by the events in Gaza and are being immensely affected by them," said Associate Professor Rima Afifi, one of the leaders of the Qaderoon project. "We are very pleased that we were able to give the kids the space to express themselves and deal with their feelings. We could tell from their faces that they were happy to be able to express themselves freely, in an open, green space, such as is the campus."

Afifi added that the pictures and letters made by the children were "touching in their simplicity and expressiveness."


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