Gaza visit 2011

There is a desperate need to create and maintain stability and continuity of treatment. The stories of the deaths in the families and the destruction of homes were harrowing.

Each group of people we met saw PTC(Gaza) as a lifeline of continuous support. It is important to remember that when a project funded by an NGO ends, the families’ problems continue. PTC (Gaza) is very mindful of this and will often continue home visits and social support for free.

The effects of Operation Cast Lead (2008-2009) and Operation Pillar of Defence (November 2012) are still being felt. The attack on Gaza in November 2012 re-traumatised many who had been making a recovery. One of our hosts told us that his brother and four others had been shot dead from an Israeli patrol boat while going out to sea for some long-distance swimming. Farmers are shot by Israeli snipers in the “buffer” zone that forms the border and happens to contain their cultivated fields. People are paralysed by uncertainty over whether or when these incursions will develop into full scale war. Why rebuild a house, when it will only be destroyed again? Why plan anything, when waiting for destruction? Counteracting this general despair is an everyday issue.

The problems being faced are enormous. Family life is under threat because of the ongoing traumas. Medical resources are scarce because of the siege. The tunnels to Egypt provide some items very expensively. These tunnels, unfortunately, are also introducing a new mental health problem – illicit drugs. No one quite knows the levels of addiction (Tramadol was mentioned in particular). Much more training is needed to support mental health workers encountering these new problems.

Also, serious efforts are being made to overcome the stigma of “therapy” which can feel like a personal insult. “Resilience” is being promoted by PTC(Gaza), working directly with families, developing their resilience to cope with internal pressures and giving them agency in the therapeutic process. Teachers, also, can be trained to deal with traumatised students. PTC co-ordinates support from within the local community and has good links with schools, welfare units and the Gaza Psychiatric Hospital.

PTC (Gaza) and PTC(UK) have an informal twinning relationship which works because all decision are made by the team in Gaza. We expect the relationship to go from strength to strength.

PTC(UK) TEAM:   Mohamed Altawil (Director), Andrew Enever (Training Co-ordinator),  Jerry Conway (Focusing), David Harrold  (Chair of Trustees)

March 2011.   Updated September 2013.

Palestine Trauma Centre (UK)

4, Tanners Crescent, Hertford. SG13 8DS.

Palestine Trauma Centre (Gaza)

Al Schwaikh Building

El Rimal North Yousef El Adma St.

Gaza.   Palestine.