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UNICEF launches Community Centres in Bam and Baravat

Bam, January 29th, 2006: Community leaders, government officials, parents, children and UNICEF came together on Saturday to celebrate the inauguration of Neshat Community and Recreational Centres in Bam and Baravat. The Neshat centres – named for the word meaning “joy” in Farsi - combine recreation, sports, arts and crafts and counselling and aim to give the people of Bam a place that provides a more holistic approach to their psychosocial support.

“This is the first time the State Welfare Organisation (SWO) is combining psychosocial therapies with playing and recreation,” said Dr Mohammad Setayesh, head of SWO in Kerman, one of UNICEF’s main partners in this earthquake-stricken city. “The success in this project lies in community involvement. Although this was a UNICEF and SWO initiative, local people took on the main responsibility and made it work.”

The Neshat Centres have already become popular places for both young and old to gather. The children play games such as table tennis and football, while parents take part in counselling sessions to overcome their grief and make a new start in their lives.

“I feel so alone at home but here I can spend my time and enjoy myself with my friends,” said 15-year-old Hamed Tirandam, who comes to the centre every day.

The centres also have a basket weaving class where women can learn to make handicrafts out of palm tree leaves and an information resource centre containing brochures and leaflets on matters related to emotional well being.

“Play and recreation is the language of children and that’s how they relate to each other,” said Maziar Taleshi, UNICEF’s assistant project officer in Child Protection in Bam. “The post-emergency stage is over. We have to focus more on long-term strategies by providing the people of Bam and Baravat a space where they can visit and share experiences in order to overcome their grief and move forward.”

Four local people have been recruited to work as counsellors in the centres. They have received training in both individual and group counselling techniques.

“We are planning to form libraries and peer group sessions so that when families meet up here and talk of their problems, they realize that their pain is shared by others and this is a relief for them,” said Tayebeh Dehbashi, supervisor of Neshat Community Centre in Bam.

To coincide with the inauguration of Neshat, UNICEF also opened a children’s photography exhibition. This had been launched in December in Tehran along with the State of the World’s Children report. The exhibition features 125 photos based on the theme “Excluded and Invisible” which were taken by children all over Iran. Seventeen-year-old Mohammad Reza Sadeghi, from Emam Ali camp in Bam, won second prize and was awarded a camera and some films. The exhibition will move to Sistan and Baluchistan in mid February.


For further information, please contact:

Miranda Eeles, Communication Officer, UNICEF Iran.
E-mail: Tel: 22594994 ext 419, Mobile: 0912 3462034

Bahareh Yeganefar Assistant, Communication, UNICEF Iran
E-mail: Tel: 22594994 ext 110.



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