Yesterday I went along to the second day of the new kids play space, set up in the temporary (insha’allah) Samoud Camp in the ruins of Jabalia‘s Hi Salaam area. EJ and C have partnered up with local youth leaders to put the space together, naming it after the FreeGaza project, and using some one-off donations from various folks outside, to buy the (scarce and hard to obtain) tents, toys, and snacks for the kids to last the next while.Kids from about 5 to 12 crowded excitedly in the dust outside the gate, then headed into the separate girls and boys tents, only stopping to fling off their shoes at the doorways.
Most of them come from houses now flattened or no longer even locatable, and their families are attempting to live in temporary shelters or the tent towns such as Samoud, which are too small for the number of homeless and have few facilities. The tents didn’t look up to the job when I first saw them, and are looking even more forlorn now after recent rain, snow, and strong winds.
It was lovely watching how much the girls enjoyed the various games that made up a big part of the session. Some games (guess who has the ball behind their back?) were just for fun. Others had children identifying their fears – “the dark.” “when the bombs fall.” “Israeli soldiers”.
At one point, the youth leaders asked some to come singly into the circle centre and tell some of their stories from the attacks and what had happened to their families. “We had a white flag but they still shot at us…”
The youth leaders, all of whom have experience with psychosocial work with kids (here’s a Red Cross/Red Crescent short film about this kind of therapy) are volunteering, but will receive a meal each day they work, and a small amount of money towards phone and transport expenses. They plan to open the play space for 3 afternoons a week.With me was Rama, who got in touch a little while ago after finding my blog. She is part of the ongoing Seeds of Peace project, and works in admin at the Al Foga School in Jabalia refugee camp, one of the UNWRA schools that hosted refugees during the attacks. She’s offered to be a contact person between Norwich Palestine Solidarity Campaign, who asked if I could help them twin with a project in Gaza that they could support, and the FreeGaza Kids Space here in Samoud Camp.
Because I have limited time here now, I’m not able to assist with further “twinnings”, but I can still deliver personal donations, so please have a look at the Donate to Gaza page if you’d like to help.