Helping Caregivers, Young People and Their Families
Build Lives of Hope and Resiliency
Gaza, a 25-mile long Mediterranean sliver of land between Israel and Egypt, is regularly referred to by its own inhabitants as “the world’s largest open air prison”. The entire population of 1.8 million has witnessed and/or been affected by violence. Unemployment and poverty levels are soaring. Access to basic needs such as water, sanitation, power, food sources, and adequate health care are extremely limited and unreliable.
Why it Matters
Children are often taught to fight their parents’ wars. Those who have seen their homes obliterated, their schools blown to bits and their families scattered are often thrown off-center. With their childhoods thrown into chaos, and security and prosperity an illusion, children and young people of Gaza can want to strike those they interpret to be responsible. To move forward, we must collectively find ways to soothe personal tensions, to stem the resentments that grow from traumatized childhoods and that feed the cycles of violence.
Jamil Abdel Atti, CMBM Gaza Country Director
The purpose of CMBM’s program in Gaza is to help enhance the wellbeing and strengthen the mental health of children and adults. To help reduce the stress and relieve the trauma caused by ongoing conflict. Our mind-body skills groups and workshops teach self-care techniques including relaxed, focused breathing, guided imagery and biofeedback as well as the use of words, drawing and movement for self-expression. MBM techniques help children and adults to enhance mental and emotional functioning, reduce stress, and promote personal resilience with self-care tools and group support. Lower levels of stress, greater sense of personal efficacy, and feeling of group support produce significant improvements in both psychological status and physical symptoms.
What CMBM is Doing
Since 2005, CMBM has trained 600 Palestinian clinicians, educators, and community leaders in our model of psychological self-care and group support. These trainees have brought the CMBM approach to more than 150,000 children and adults. Some 40,000 people have participated in 10-weeklong Mind-Body Skills Groups. CMBM works closely with the Ministries of Health, Education, and Social Welfare, The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), and an additional 200 international and local NGOs.
CMBM’s work in Gaza constitutes the largest, most comprehensive and most effective program for healing population-wide psychological trauma.
Each week, thousands of men, women and children gather together in groups to practice CMBM’s mind-body skills. They are regaining a sense of calm in the midst of chaos, and transforming their despair into hope.Most critical is CMBM’s work with children and young people. At the Hetten School, a secondary school for boys located in one of the most devastated areas of Gaza, CMBM is working intensively with all 500 students and staff to help create a bastion of hope in the territory. We are training 60 peer mentors, as well as all teachers, to lead Mind-Body Skills Groups. Mentors and staff in turn bring self-care and group support to their friends, classmates, and families. We hope to bring this model of youth-directed healing to other schools in Gaza.
In a research study published in the International Journal of Stress Management, Palestinian children and adolescents in Gaza who participated in a ten-week long CMBM group showed a more than 80% decrease in symptoms of PTSD, with improvements largely maintained at a 7-month follow-up despite ongoing hardship. A recent study on Palestinian adults published in Traumatology showed similar results.
CMBM published the first randomized-controlled study of any intervention for war-traumatized children in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. Most critical is CMBM’s work with children and young people. At the Hetten School, a secondary school for boys located in one of the most devastated areas of Gaza, CMBM is working intensively with all 500 students and staff to help create a bastion of hope in the territory. We are training 60 peer mentors, as well as all teachers, to lead Mind-Body Skills Groups. Mentors and staff in turn bring self-care and group support to their friends, classmates, and families. We hope to bring this model of youth-directed healing to other schools in Gaza.
The Center for Mind-Body Medicine in Gaza is providing mind-body skills training to students at the Hetten School, a secondary school for boys so they can bring self-care and group support to their peers, friends, and families.
How You Can Help
CMBM’s work in Gaza continues to expand. We are working with the Ministry of Education, the United Nations Development Program, the UN Relief Works Agency and others to bring mind-body healing to teachers, health workers, social service agencies and those with whom they work.
There is no shortage of need in Gaza. Violence, unemployment and despair play too large a role in a territory that is often isolated and left with too few resources. But CMBM provides a critical resource, one that helps replace despair with hope, and anger with peace. Our work in Gaza is more important now than ever before.
The Impact of Your Support
A small gift can make an enormous positive impact:
|$ 25||Sponsor training materials for a teacher or healthcare worker learning CMBM’s model of self-care and group support|
|$ 100||Sponsor a student attending a 10-weeklong mind-body skills group where he or she can process trauma and learn self-care in a safe setting|
|$ 250||Support a weekly Mind-Body Skills Group where 10 students can come together to address their stress and trauma|
|$ 1,000||Sponsor a training in mind-body skills for aid workers delivering services to Gaza through one of our non-governmental organization partners|