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Trauma Prevention in Syrian Children: Program for Parents, Teachers and Social Workers

We are helping Syrian parents help their traumatized children.

Photo of Češi pro Sýrii
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What problem does the idea help to solve and how does your solution work? (2,000 characters maximum)

Our project focuses mainly on traumatized refugee children and their parents. There is hundreds of thousands of traumatized Syrian refugee children and a lack of expert psychological care. At the same time, their parents do not know what to do. Therefore, we have created an informative program for parents, social workers and teachers (i.e. those who are closest to the children) to help resolve trauma in the children who were displaced from the brutal Syrian war to Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Greece and currently live either in refugee camps or within the host community. Unresolved trauma produces unnecessary suffering and more trauma in longer perspective. Our objective is to give the parents (directly and through teachers and social workers) simple yet effective tools (basic information about trauma and games and activities that help release the traumatic stress) with which they can help their children independentely of the availability of experts. At the moment, we have adapted and are translating into Arabic a book by P. Levine and M. Kline for the parents of traumatized children Trauma Proofing Your Kids (to be used by teachers and social workers), have created a 40 - page excerpted Trauma Handbook (to be used by the parents, who are traumatized as well and do not have the capacity to read the whole book) and are preparing the Trauma Picture Book (the simpliest version of all). These will be delivered to the target community with complementary workshops and Trauma Toy Kits (i.e. materials and games that are described in the Trauma Handbook and will be left with each organization or premises that we visit). We believe that we have simple yet effective tools that can help to prevent mental and physical difficulties that can affect the whole of the future lives of the children and families and their integration and functioning in the community.

Geography of focus (500 characters)

At the moment, we have established cooperation with two Syrian/Turkish organizations registered in Turkey and operating in Gaziantep (Hope Revival and Hurras). Later, we would like to continue to Lebanon, Jordan and Greece. Our choice of countries corresponds with the numbers of Syrian refugees displaced here and the needs resulting from it. In Turkey, there is now 3 600 000 Syrian refugees, in Lebanon it is nearly 2 000 000. We focus both on the community living inside and outside refugee camps

Building Bridges: What bridge does your idea build between people on the move and neighbors towards a shared future of stability and promise? (500 characters)

Unresolved/resolved trauma translates into all the relationships that an individual enters. All parents struggle with emotional difficulties of their traumatized children. By helping them to understand trauma as a natural response to traumatic events and giving them tools to handle it, we can improve the quality of their family life. At the same time, it will improve their integration and functioning within any community they are part of.

What human need is your idea solving for? (1,000 characters)

Support in refugee camps currently focuses primarily on meeting the basic needs. The people who live there are no longer in danger, they get some basic food and have a place to sleep. However, they also need help as to overcoming the horrors they experienced and help as to starting over again. It is very important to say that traumatized children CAN be helped, even in the current difficult living conditions. It is the nature of trauma that it takes the joy away from a person´s life and keeps the individual stuck in the past. If we succeed in either alleviating its symptoms or resolving them completely (which is possible and the sooner, the easier), trauma does not need to be a fact of the whole of their lives. Imagine your child is suffering and you do not know what to do and how to help him/her (here is a critical lack of professional psychological care). And imagine that somebody helps you.

What will be different within the community of focus as a result of implementing your idea? (1,000 characters)

The Syrian community will be positively affected by improving the lives of the individual families with traumatized children through both direct work with the parents and the cooperation between the social workers and the parents (the trainee groups will consist of a mixture of parents, social workers and teachers). The social workers trained will know how to share the knowledge and practices of the method effectively in the refugee camps or the cities where the Syrian community has been displaced. The positive change will be measured and evaluated by collecting questionnaires and through direct communication. A specific amount of supportive material (i.e. the pilot prints of the informative texts as well as complementary toys and games – the Trauma Toy Kit) will be distributed and the Trauma Handbook will be adjusted and improved upon the feedback from the community (parents, social workers and teachers) before its final publishing. The organization has respective rights for using and

What is the inspiration behind your idea? (1,000 characters)

The project was inspired by the work of A. Elkhani and the Department of Psychology in Manchester, who distributed a one-page leaflet on child trauma and basic advice with bread to Syrian parents living in refugee camps inside and outside Syria. It was unbelievable that almost 70% of the parents responded to the leaflet with thanks or questions. It is really an exceptional response rate showing that regardless of their own trauma and suffering, parents want to know what they can do for their children. This is important. Therefore, we decided to provide the parents with more information on how they can help their children. The book for parents of traumatized children already existed. We have adapted some parts to the needs of refugees, translated and excerpted the most important information. Moreover, as mentioned before, trauma can be helped and we have the tools to make it happen. So, now, we need to deliver them.

Describe the dynamics of the community in which the idea is to be implemented. (1,000 characters)

The pilot phase is to be implemented in Turkey, Gaziantep, and/or other places, where workshops including social workers, teachers and parents will take place. Turkey now hosts the largest refugee population, sources currently state approximately 3.6 million registered Syrian refugees. The social workers witness the misery and desperation of thousands of men, women and children who continue to arrive at the borders. The children are almost always traumatized by both experiencing the brutal war and forced displacement. They live with their parents (sometimes without them) in very poor conditions and can also be negatively affected by the worldwide far-right wing society refusal. It makes a difference if they are given a helping hand or not. The centers within the camps and the cities may provide basic needs satisfaction tools, but to live on the move also deeply effects the mind and emotions. Psychological help is needed and we have the tools to be used by non-professionals.

How does your idea leverage and empower community strengths and assets to help create an environment for success? (1,000 characters)

Traumatized people have difficulties in any and all relationships they establish (or not establish at all). Also, simply said, unresolved trauma produces trauma. In order to build a healthy community (on all levels, from local to global), we need healthy individuals. In the last two years, we have put together a team of interested psychologists, trauma therapists and staff from different refugee organizations (who will bring the parents they are currently taking care of). Altogether, we are ready to provide support to the most vulnerable victims of the war.

What other partners or stakeholders will work alongside you in implementing the idea, if any? (1,000 characters)

Organizations: Hope Revival: a humanitarian, non-governmental nonprofit organization which specializes in mental health, psychosocial support and protection and operates a refugee help center for the war-affected Syrians in Gaziantep and inside refugee camps in Syria. Hurras: a human-rights organisation which delivers psychological, social and educational initiatives to children. Also operates both in Gaziantep and inside Syria. Therefore, indirectly, through the trainees from these two organizations, we will even be able to address the parent community inside Syria. A team of SE therapists from around the world: Poland (Fundacja Emic), Czech republic (Češi pro Sýrii), Austria, Germany and Turkey

What part of the displacement journey is your solution addressing

  • Being on the move, crossing borders, and/or temporarily settled

Tell us how you'd describe the type of innovation you are proposing

  • Service: A new or enhanced service that creates value for end beneficiaries

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Pilot: We have started to implement the idea as a whole with a first set of real users. The feasibility of an innovation is tested in a small-scale and real world application (i.e. 3-15% of the target population)

Group or Organization Name

Češi pro Sýrii, z.s., Humanitarian Initiative (Czech People for Syria, z.s.)

Tell us more about your group or organization [or lived experience as a displaced person?] (1000 characters)

We are a small non-profit organization that came into being in 2017 in response to the refugee crisis with the aim to find some effective ways to deal with the hopelessness and to make refugees´ lives more tolerable and easier. The largest project of ours is that of resolving trauma in Syrian children. The smaller scale projects include: a support group for Arabic women and children living in Prague, the organization and initiation of refugee help for refugee camps in Europe and Syria (e.g. a school clothes collection, a small figure toys collection for children in Serbian camps). We also organize regular awarness meetings to tell the Czech public about the current situation in Syria and the corresponding needs. We have been focused on the topic of trauma in war-affected Syrians for two years now, have put tgether the know-how and the team and are ready to start the field work. We met some of our partners in Prague and Vienna and communicate with the rest via Skype meetings.

Website URL:

http://cesiprosyrii.org/

Type of submitter

  • We are a registered Non-Profit Organization

Organization Headquarters: Country

Ceši pro Sýrii, z.s. Cimburkova 916/8 Praha 3, 130 00 Czech republic

Organization Headquarters: City / State

Ceši pro Sýrii, z.s. Cimburkova 916/8 Praha 3, 130 00 Czech republic

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Photo of Johannes Cornelis van Nieuwkerk
Team

Dear Katarina,

You are addressing an extremely important topic which is too often forgotten.

In my own Refival initiative, trauma treatment is an integral element of incubation (http://www.openideo2019.refival.org) and I work together for this part with Dr. Charles Tauber of https://www.cwwpp.org/ who has 20 years of experience with war victims of the Yugoslav conflict and especially focuses on Pragmatic Empowerment Training, which as far as I can judge has similarity with and fits very well to your approach....

I think he would be happy to join forces with you and I can introduce you to him if you like.

Kind Regards from Budapest,

Hans van Nieuwkerk

Photo of Češi pro Sýrii
Team

Dear Johannes,
Thank you for your reply! We have been creating a list of prospect cooperating bodies and are happy to put you on it.
Warm regards, Katerina Honzikova

Photo of Johannes Cornelis van Nieuwkerk
Team

Dear Katarina,

I think you will discover similarity in approaches and although Dr. Charles Tauber will probably even more focus on the parents than you do, I think his extensive experience can be extremely useful.

Please keep me posted on your project as well because as soon as I manage to realize a pilot-project for Refival somewhere in Europe (not easy at all in the current political climate) I will need/involve people like you (see: www.a1216.refival.org).

By the way Dr. Charles Tauber has since a few days his own participation in the challenge: https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/2019-bridgebuilder-challenge/ideas/pragmatic-empowered-training

Warm Regards from Budapest,

Hans van Nieuwkerk
www.docs.refival.org
www.openideo2019.refival.org

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