Looking for their lost Childhood

There is no doubt that the situation in Palestine during the last ten years has deteriorated, which has resulted in negative effects in the community in general and children specifically. Children are considered an important sector in any community since they are easily affected by the situation surrounding them. This is why it is very important try to concentrate on this demographic: supporting healthy environments that provide skills to build healthy individuals physically and mentally.

In a meeting with Mr. Baha’a Nassar – Acting Psychological Supervisor in the Mental Health Department at UNRWA – he stated, “Children in the refugee camps have the right to live their childhood like any normal child around the world - they have the right to play in a safe open environments in order to learn basic skills such as communication, problem solving, and sharing.”

Mr. Nassar also revealed, “In Nablus, our camps lack open spaces or centers with room to play. Most schools close their doors after school so children spend their free time in streets where they face the danger of accidents or deviation”.

Our children have the right to live in a healthy environment but unfortunately children in the camps are surrounded by poor environmental and family Issues like crowded housing, violence, and early marriage. This affects their attitudes negatively and many grow to be illiterate, aggressive, and in some cases violent.

As the Outreach Coordinator at Tomorrows Youth Organization (TYO), I see the link between the local community and TYO. I touch base with mothers, schools, local and international NGOs to make sure to understand the needs of children in order to help the team at TYO design early childhood program accordingly.

At TYO, we aim to develop healthy children through non-formal programs that allow them to play, discover, open their minds, and develop skills and talents in a safe open space. There are challenges in outreach at times, but when seeing the small mouths laughing and little hands waving at us makes these challenges worthwhile.

-Futoon Futoon Qadri is the Outreach Coordinator at Tomorrow's Youth Organization.