Activities at Fadia's kindergarten.
Activities at Fadia's kindergarten.

Assisting a bereaved sister overcome trauma

An occupied Palestinian territory Humanitarian Fund success story

Five-year-old Fadia is admirably struggling to heal her still-fresh wound of losing dear family members in a military strike.

On 10 May, Israeli munition struck near the town of Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza, killing eight Palestinians. The oldest two were 20 years old, and the rest were children, aged 2-16. It was the first evening of the 11-day escalation of hostilities between armed Palestinian groups and Israeli forces in Gaza.

Two of the fatalities were Fadia’s brothers. She saw them lying there, dead. Fadia ran screaming, desperately looking for the rest of her family, only to find her two-year-old cousin, bleeding to death. She tried to pull the baby out from the destroyed house, but couldn't. Subsequently, she ran away screaming in shock, until she reached her uncle's house, when ambulances arrived at the scene. At that point, her neighbours began fleeing to safer places.

Children across Gaza are traumatized by this round of hostilities. Many are suffering from fear and anxiety, do not sleep well, or show worrying signs of distress, like shaking and bedwetting.

After this incident, Fadia isolated herself from her surroundings. The world she knew had become a world of fear, dread and insecurity, where she didn’t feel she belonged. According to her family, Fadia refused to leave the house or go to the street to play with other children. Crying a lot, she began showing psychological and behavioral disorders, such as sleep disturbance and absent-mindedness. Little Fadia was suffering. Following the ceasefire, supported by the occupied Palestinian territory Humanitarian Fund (oPt HF), the Italian association Vento di Terra (VDT), in partnership with a local NGO, the Remedial Education Center (REC), provided children in northern Gaza with education and psycho-social support. They repaired five kindergartens and one school that had sustained minor damages, provided children with recreational activities and trained teachers on supporting children in post-emergency situations.

In November 2021, Fadia started receiving individual, group and family psychological and social support through this project and took part in extracurricular activities. Her kindergarten joined in to also provide some psychol-social activities and support. Her mother was instructed on ways in which she could support her daughter overcome the trauma.

As a result, Fadia’s self-confidence increased, and she overcame her sleep disorders. Although her ability to move on was remarkable, she will continue benefitting from VDT services until she fully recovers