Voices of Children

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UNICEF Psychosocial Support Helps Kids Recover

By Reem Tarazi

GAZA, 23 September 2005 - Eleven-year-old Ruba Subhi Al Mughani will never forget the one school day last December which changed her life for good.

The talkative and engaging student of Shija’ya, at the eastern border of Gaza City, received a bullet wound as she was sitting at her school desk studying math.

On that day, there was an invasion in Sheja’ya Area and there were sporadic shootings and shelling from tanks. The teacher asked the children to open classroom windows to protect them from any unexpected broken windows in case of explosions.

Almost as soon as the window beside Ruba was opened, a bullet came whizzing through, striking her on the arm.

Said Ruba: “The bell rang declaring the end of the lesson, so I stood up to put my books in my bag and suddenly I felt a sever pain in my arm. I screamed and saw blood coming out. My teacher took me downstairs and then evacuated me to a nearby hospital.”

After receiving treatment, Ruba stayed at home for two weeks - afraid to go back to school.

The psychosocial team, coordinated by the Palestinian Center for Democracy and Conflict Resolution and supported by UNICEF, visited Ruba at home several times and helped her recover and encouraged her to go back to school.

“I was afraid to go back to school but I missed my friends”, Ruba answered when asked about her decision to return to class.

Shooting and shelling is nothing new to the kids of Gaza. In fact, in some areas, kids instinctively dive to the floor whenever they hear gunfire. (However, now with the evacuation of Israeli settlers and the IDF presence the danger from lethal fire has been reduced to almost zero).

Although the situation has now changed for the better after the removal of Israeli settlements and military presence from Gaza, the need for psychosocial support remains as emotions tend to surface when the immediate threat is over.

Ruba’s school is called Sobhi Abu Karsh Primary School. It received Remedial Education and School-in-box kits from UNICEF.

Said Ruba: “Today I am very happy that I am back to school. I miss my school, teachers and friends. I am not afraid anymore. The Israelis pulled out from Gaza and I can go to school safely.”

Ruba enjoys two subjects most-of all: science and Arabic Language but she does not like the Math. “When I was shot, it was during the Math lesson.”

Ruba hopes in the future to be an Arabic Language Teacher.

Reem Tarazi is the Assistant Project Officer in UNICEF’s Gaza City office.



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