To all the children everywhere, whether already here or yet to born. May their lives be a little easier; may they suffer less, because they have grown up unencumbered by the shadow of trauma. May they be blessed with resilience and inner peace! —Ayman Nijim
The main event yesterday [April 6, 2013] was a visit to the Nuseirat refugee camp adjacent to the Bureij camp (Raghda’s former home) with Ayman Nijim. He is a program coordinator at the psychosocial service agency, Afaq Jadeeda Association (New Horizons). I learned about him thru Cliff who put us in touch. The program is partially sponsored by the Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) and includes a theater, kindergarten, counseling service, women’s center, library, and play area, among other offerings. At first I thought this might be simply a sit and chat sort of visit without photos but I asked if there was anything happening that I might photograph. MECA installed water purification facilities in the kindergarten after a survey revealed that what children in Gaza most wish for is clean water. He and a young woman, also a program coordinator, Fatma M. Khateib, pregnant and maybe worried what her next job might be since she works on a 4 month contract (when I asked her, what qualifies you for this job? thinking education, she retorted boldly, I’m good!), toured me thru some of the program’s facilities, mainly the main office and 2 schools. I photographed freely some of my most appealing topics—kids playing, learning English, singing, etc. We set up a few scenes of kids drinking from Maia project water installations.
Fatma M. Khateib, Project Coordinator
His self-description from his fundraising letter:
I created and manage the psychosocial program “Let them Play and Heal”, the third phase, which is for children suffering from trauma, PTSD, hyper-attention deficit disorder at Afaq Jadeeda Association in partnership with Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA). PLUS, I consult with classes to teach women methods to help traumatized children in Gaza Strip, obtain funding through grants for diverse programs including water filtration systems, children’s trauma treatment, emergency financial relief for refugees, and scholarships for orphans, coordinate with international visitors, providing research and training sessions with local participants and write press releases and invitations for liaising organizations to expand program capacities…
I made two fundraising events, one was in cooperation with the Maia Mural Brigade to bring financial aid to the medical sector in Gaza…This was with a long-time friend, Susan Green, who is a famous American Jewish muralist and founder of the Maia Mural Brigade and the other was with Mr. Bill Salughter, President of Gaza Mental Health Foundation, Boston.
I am a mental health practitioner and board member of International Trauma Treatment Program (ITTP) in Olympia, WA.… When I was in Olympia, I took classes in mediation, negotiation, crisis management, program management and multicultural psychology.
All of these courses shaped my dream to apply for study in the States, I researched how to build peace across cultures based on my experience of living under war in Iraq and being a journalist during the toppling of Fatah Movement in 2007 and the Operation Cast Lead Israeli assault on Gaza in 2008-09.
Fortunately, I was accepted in two universities in the states; the School for International Training in the field of Conflict Transformation Across Cultures, Brattleboro, Vermont, and in Center For Justice and Peacebuilding at the University of Mennonite in West Virginia. I hope I can succeed financially to attend one of these universities.
Now, I want to achieve my supreme dream: to make something for my community and the global community. But what hinders my dream is the money. I spare no effort to find people who might be interested to pave the way to a student to enroll in SIT school.
(Anyone wishing to contribute to Ayman’s education in Vermont which begins May 26, 2013 may send checks made payable to John Van Eenwyk with a note “Ayman” to Rev. Dr. John Van Eenwyk, P. O. Box 1961, Olympia WA 98507.) He already has many contacts Stateside, including the Corries, some others in Olympia, Washington, and generally seems well-connected with USA activists and educators. After the tour we met with Lora who had some ideas for fundraising. One was to organize a fundraiser in Gaza itself. Ayman scratched this idea, explaining to us that there is no such thing in Gaza. Unheard of. He even resisted calling a friend in Gaza associated with MECA Something about their friendship. No doubt, a culturally bound ethic that Lora and I didn’t understand.
Conflict Transformation Across Cultures, CONTACT, the program Ayman has been accepted into in Vermont
TO BE CONTINUED