This girl with the beautiful smile—see photo—was one of a group of children, many of whom, although living less than 3 miles away from the beach, had never visited it. Not until summer games with transport and safe play gave her the chance.
She’s a Palestinian in Gaza. This picture was taken in 2009, and the games were funded by Hope and Play. It was six months since the carpet bombing of Gaza over Christmas 2008. Many parents told us this was the first time they’d seen their children smile.
Since then, she will have witnessed two further carpet bombings. Bombardments that made children see what no human should see, and have left over 90 per cent of them traumatized.
Hope and Play is a UK charity, founded by friends who studied together at Oxford University. Our current work focuses on how we can help these children not only recover from trauma, but create strategies to help them cope with ongoing traumatic experiences. They are taken through a fourmonth programme by a local professional organization, which includes psychosocial therapy, play, and direct educational intervention.
Education is one of the most prized gifts for Palestinian children trapped in the Gaza enclave. Yet it is nigh-on impossible to educate a child who cannot focus for 30 seconds at a time, and ducks for cover at the thud of a book dropping to the floor. St Mary’s donation will enable us to support children in this programme designed to help them overcome these obstacles, and engage meaningfully in education and bring purpose to their lives.
The above is written by Iyas AlQasem, trustee of Hope and Play, who will be giving a talk in the church hall at 11.30 a.m. on Sunday 4 December.
Besides the contribution by PCC, any personal donations will be welcome to:
Hope and Play,
71 Chudleigh Road,
Twickenham TW2 7QP,