Palestine: Rehabilitation programme

Background and Project context

Horyzon supports the young people in Palestine with two different projects: on the one hand with the Joint Advocacy Initiative and on the other hand with the rehabilitation programme.

The decades-long conflict between Israel and Palestine escalated again in autumn 2023, and there is still no solution to the conflict. The population on both sides is suffering from this situation. In Palestine in particular, many young people live with disabilities that can often be traced back to the conflict. Some young people suffer from psychological disabilities such as trauma due to experiences of violence or depression caused by the hopelessness of the conflict. Others live with physical disabilities such as impaired vision or even paraplegia.

The rehabilitation programme offers these young people support and the opportunity to develop prospects despite their disability and the ongoing conflict. For example, counselling therapies or group meetings are offered at various locations. Accompanied by specialists, the young people learn about different coping mechanisms and can overcome their mental injuries. Young people who are physically disabled also receive financial support for medical treatment or aids such as crutches and wheelchairs.

During and after the therapies and treatments, the young people are supported in (re)integrating into society and the professional environment. To this end, exchange opportunities are organised for the disabled young people and their family members, where they develop strategies for dealing with their situation and learn to overcome their fears. Various tests and assessments are carried out for vocational integration in order to find out their strengths and abilities together with the young people. With the support of the project, the young people have the opportunity to develop their professional skills in an internship or to open their own small business. This enables them to lead a more self-determined life and actively participate in society.

Locations

Activities & Effects

Project part 1: Psychosocial counseling

Activities

  • Psychosocial counseling and support for young people with disabilities in individual formats
  • Psychosocial counseling and support as well as trauma therapies for victims of political violence in individual and group formats
  • Training and support for parents and other caregivers of people with disabilities and victims of political violence

Expected results for 2024 (outputs)

  • 130 individual formats for people with disabilities
  • 205 individual and group formats for victims of political violence
  • 27 formats with parents and other caregivers of people with disabilities
  • 170 formats with parents and other caregivers of victims of political violence

Long-term results (outcomes)

  • Children and young people with disabilities are better able to cope with their situation and experience an improvement in their quality of life after completing therapy.
  • Parents and other caregivers are better able to support young people in coping with their impairment or traumatic experience.
  • This leads to an improvement in the general mental health of people in Palestine.
Project part 2: Educational and professional reintegration

Activities

  • Remedial teaching for children who have dropped out of school due to their disability or trauma.
  • Financial contributions for medical aids (e.g. crutches, wheelchairs, prostheses), treatments (e.g. physiotherapy) and the construction of barrier-free access to the homes of affected individuals and families as well as to public facilities such as schools (e.g. ramps, toilets).
  • Vocational guidance, clarification of vocational skills and manual training at the vocational training center.
  • Developing, supporting and enabling newly founded businesses for young people with disabilities.

Expected results for 2024 (outputs)

  • Remedial teaching for 134 children and young people
  • 106 aids and/or treatments for people with disabilities, 113 construction measures in homes and/or public facilities
  • 140 participants in consultations, clarifications and training sessions
  • 17 new businesses founded by young people with disabilities

Long-term results (outcomes)

  • The social and economic integration of people with disabilities into Palestinian society has improved.
  • Access to school and supported re-entry into school education improves the quality of life of children and young people of school age.
  • The quality of life and integration of young people with disabilities and their families is improved through their professional independence or successful integration into the labor market.
Project part 3: Awareness-raising, public relations and training

Activities

  • Training and further education for therapists of psychosocial counseling services
  • Publication of position papers and lobbying activities with the government, the private sector and civil society for improved compliance with the rights of people with disabilities
  • Public awareness campaigns carried out by people with disabilities
  • Participation and co-organization of national and international trainings and conferences on topics such as rehabilitation, trauma treatment or rights of persons with disabilities

Expected results for 2024 (outputs)

  • Training and further education in new and effective therapy methods for 327 therapists from various organizations (including psychology students)
  • Implementation of a campaign for the representation of the interests of people with disabilities
  • Implementation of four public awareness campaigns for people with disabilities
  • Implementation of three further training courses on awareness-raising with a total of 40 participants

Long-term results (outcomes)

  • People with disabilities in Palestine enjoy a higher quality of life as they are supported by well-trained people in perceiving and meeting their needs.
  • Civil society, the private sector and the Palestinian government are sensitized to the rights of people with disabilities and are committed to ensuring that they are respected.
  • The social, societal, economic, political and cultural rights of people with disabilities are better respected and protected in Palestine.

Results 2023

Psychosocial Counselling Services and Support for Relatives
  • 361 young people with disabilities and their family members (475 planned) have received effective psychosocial and therapeutic support.
  • 141 family members (174 planned) have been made aware of the needs and rights of people with disabilities.
  • 574 people from the Gaza Strip have received psychosocial first aid from October to December 2023
  • Of all the young people and adults who took part, around 83% said they were better able to cope with their own stress or the impairment of someone in their family after the therapies.

Educational and vocational reintegration
  • 111 young people (112 planned) were supported in their reintegration into school.
  • Through 131 measures, 109 people (112 planned) received an improvement in physical mobility thanks to medical aids and treatments. Building adaptations were carried out at a public facility and in the homes of 25 people (56 planned).
  • 140 people (114 planned) improved their income opportunities and economic independence, of which 17 people with disabilities were supported with start-up capital for their own business.

Awareness-raising and public relations work
  • 358 therapists (280 planned) from the YMCA East Jerusalem and other organizations (including psychology students) were trained and educated in new, effective therapy methods.
  • 719 people, including decision-makers, were reached at local level through awareness-raising campaigns and training. 162 students in six schools were involved in improving the inclusion of people with disabilities.

Results 2022

Psychosocial Counselling Services and Support for Relatives
  • 525 young people with disabilities and/or trauma and their family members have received effective psychosocial and therapeutic support.
  • 327 family members have been sensitised to the needs and rights of people with disabilities.
  • 78% of all beneficiaries have improved coping mechanisms to deal with their trauma or mental health problems.
  • 85% of the sensitised parents have increased their awareness of their children's needs and rights and are better able to deal with their children's needs thanks to the project.
  • 78% of the beneficiaries stated that their quality of life has improved thanks to the programme.
Educational and vocational reintegration
  • 146 beneficiaries were supported in school reintegration.
  • 162 beneficiaries were able to improve their income opportunities and increase their economic independence.
  • 98 people received financial contributions for necessary medical aids (e.g. wheelchairs, walking aids) and treatments (e.g. physiotherapy).
  • The construction of 26 handicapped-accessible entrances at beneficiaries' houses (e.g. ramps, toilets) as well as at a public institution was financed.
Awareness Raising and Public Relations Work
  • 20 awareness-raising campaigns were conducted on the following topics: Rights of persons with disabilities to health care; raising awareness of the needs of persons with disabilities, especially persons with mental disabilities; adapting menus in restaurants and cafés to Braille; the right of persons with disabilities to equal employment; the right to education without discrimination; accessible school buildings and educational materials; the right of persons with impairments to access safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, especially in terms of accessibility and mobility; and targeting drivers of public transport and taxi stations to highlight and emphasise the right of persons with impairments to move with dignity.
  • 2'559 people were educated about the needs and rights of people with disabilities through awareness-raising campaigns.
  • 88% of the trained therapists and psychology students stated that the trainings were useful for them and that they will put the acquired knowledge into practice.
  • A change at the policy level has been initiated in favour of people with disabilities: Significant progress has been made to ensure that people with disabilities can exercise their right to political participation. Ahead of the local elections in March 2022, the rehabilitation programme, in collaboration with the Union for Persons with Disabilities, presented a demand paper for accessible polling booths and voting aids that can be used by persons with disabilities without barriers. Based on this paper, the Palestinian Central Election Commission issued a series of measures to facilitate voting for persons with disabilities. To this end, 22 inaccessible polling stations were moved to other, more accessible locations. In addition, the Election Commission released a video on the voting process for persons with disabilities.

Results 2021

Psychosocial counseling services and support for relatives
  • 678 young people with impairments and/or trauma and their family members have received effective psychosocial and therapeutic support.
  • 371 family members were sensitized to the needs and rights of people with impairments.
  • 78% of all beneficiaries have improved coping mechanisms to deal with their trauma or mental health problems.
  • 82% of the sensitized parents have increased their awareness of their children's needs and rights and are better able to deal with their children's needs thanks to the project.
School and professional reintegration
  • 108 beneficiaries were assisted in school reintegration.
  • 163 beneficiaries were able to improve their income opportunities and increase their economic self-sufficiency.
  • 75 people received financial contributions for necessary medical aids (e.g. wheelchairs, walking aids) and treatments (e.g. physiotherapy).
  • The construction of 30 handicapped access points at beneficiaries' homes (e.g., ramps, toilets) and at a public facility was funded.
  • 61% of beneficiaries have gained access to further education and/ or a professional activity. In addition, 87% stated that their quality of life has improved thanks to these measures.
Awareness-raising and public relations
  • 15 awareness-raising campaigns were conducted on the following topics: Strengthening the rights of people with impairments regarding access to education, health, decent employment, public facilities and public transport, and strengthening the rights of detained children during arrest and interrogation.
  • 1,618 people were educated about the needs and rights of people with impairments through awareness campaigns.
  • 91% of the trained therapists* and psychology students stated that the trainings were useful for them and that they will put the acquired knowledge into practice.
  • Two policy-level changes were initiated in favor of people with impairments: The engineering union committed to making all of its offices accessible to people with impairments. The Ministry of Transport and the cab drivers' union decided that in the future only cab drivers who can be identified by a "Braille license plate" will be certified.
Emergency project
  • 31 young people, who suffered especially from the political tensions in East Jerusalem, worked through the experiences of the past months during 3 weeks with art and music therapy. In addition, they were trained in life skills such as conflict resolution, communication, self-confidence, teamwork and leadership.
  • 81% of the participating youth stated that their quality of life had noticeably improved thanks to the project.
  • 80% of the young people said that the skills they had learned would help them to cope better with future challenges in life.



Results 2020

Psychosocial counselling services
  • 657 persons received effective psychosocial and therapeutic support. 
  • A total of 9,139 therapy sessions were conducted.
  • 220 parents took part of family therapy.
School and vocational reintegration
  • 415 young people were supported in their professional reintegration.
  • 12 young adults were supported in setting up their own small business.
  • 322 young people received vocational consultation and 49 completed their vocational training.
  • 113 children were supported in their school reintegration through remedial teaching.
  • 208 people were integrated in a school institution.
  • 249 people received urging medical support
Awareness raising and public relation work
  • 15 youth groups conducted community initiatives addressing rights and awareness issues.
  • 5'542 people were reached with 32 awareness raising activities.
  • 9 Memoranda of Understanding on improving access to employment for people with disabilities have been signed with the private sector.
  • 42 workshops on the rights of people with disabilities were carried out. 
  • 15 groups of young people executed community initiatives which were about rights and awareness.
Continuing education for therapists
  • 340 people took part of an intern or extern training. 84 were university students, 207 were beneficiaries and 30 were employees

Results 2019

Psychosocial counselling services
  • 978 persons with impairments/traumas, of which 731 or 88% were young people aged 12-25 years, received effective psychosocial and therapeutic support. 91% of the treated children and adolescents report, after completion of the therapy, that they are better able to cope with their trauma or impairment and 97.5% feel a noticeable improvement in their quality of life.
  • A total of 9,387 therapy sessions were conducted.
  • In order to ensure the mobility and independence of the beneficiaries, support was provided for 36 structural adjustments in residential buildings (e.g. construction of wheelchair-accessible ramps at the entrance, conversion of WC/bathroom).
  • 69 beneficiaries received medical aids such as prostheses, walking aids or wheelchairs.
  • Physiotherapy was organised for 13 people with physical disabilities.
School and vocational reintegration
  • 704 young people were supported in their professional reintegration.
  • 12 young adults were supported in setting up their own small business.
  • 128 young people received vocational training (e.g. IT, mechanics, design, sewing, etc.)
  • 127 children were supported in their school reintegration through remedial teaching.
  • 26 children and young people with physical disabilities were supported in their mobility and independence by adapting buildings.
Awareness raising and public relation work
  • 5'542 people were reached with awareness raising activities.
  • 9 Memoranda of Understanding on improving access to employment for people with disabilities have been signed with the private sector.
  • Together with the Palestinian Disability Coalition, various activities and workshops were carried out on the topic of "Protection from violence for women with disabilities.
  • Together with the National Alliance for the Employment of People with Disabilities, a conference on "Vocational training for people with disabilities" was organized.
Continuing education for therapists
  • 88 project staff members participated in training courses from the YMCA East Jerusalem and other organisations.
  • 7 employees took part in training courses abroad lasting several days
  • 36 Palestinian students of psychology and social work completed a 4-month internship in the reintegration programme.
  • 94.6% of the trained and further trained therapists apply newly acquired knowledge and skills in their work.

Results 2018

Psychosocial Counselling Services

  • 579 people with disabilities/trauma (Objective 600), of whom 445 or 77% were young people aged 12-25 years, received effective psychosocial and therapeutic support.
  • 7,047 individual therapy sessions were held.
  • In order to ensure the mobility and independence of the beneficiaries, 36 structural adaptations in residential buildings (e.g. construction of wheelchair-accessible ramps at the house entrance, conversion of WC/bathrooms) were supported.
  • 64 beneficiaries received medical aids such as prostheses, walking aids or wheelchairs.
  • Physiotherapy could be organised for 18 people with physical disabilities.

School and vocational reintegration

  • 334 beneficiaries (Objective 300) improved their opportunities to be economically active.
  • 94 beneficiaries were able to complete vocational training in their own workshops or in an external company.
  • The programme was able to find 40 beneficiaries a job with private companies.
  • Individual career counselling was provided to 191 beneficiaries, 92 of whom were reached thanks to the mobile counselling unit.
  • The programme supported the development of 9 small businesses, which are run independently by beneficiaries. Of these, 3 were initiated by women.
  • Thanks to remedial education for 199 beneficiaries and transport assistance for 20 beneficiaries a total of 199 young people were able to return or continue to attend school/university.

Awareness raising of families and society

  • The family members were included in the therapies and consultations (Objective 1,500 persons; the exact number of family members was not recorded).
  • 67 meetings were held with other NGOs also working in the fields of health and people with disabilities.
  • At 2 meetings with the Ministry of Labour, a list of indicators suitable for the disabled was proposed.
  • 81 workshops and information events were held to raise awareness of the needs and rights of people with disabilities.
  • 27 activities were carried out in schools and universities with the same aim. As a direct result, support committees have been established at 14 schools to promote the rights of pupils with disabilities.
  • 26 leisure and relaxation activities were carried out for traumatised children and their parents.
  • A total of 5,142 people were reached through awareness campaigns.

Continuing education for therapists

  • 99 therapists in the reintegration programme have undergone further training.
  • 171 therapists from other organisations were trained and further educated.
  • 27 students from the fields of social work and psychology completed a four-month internship in the reintegration programme.

SRF mitenand: Palestinian Youth - Rehabilitation after trauma

Palestine
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Further information

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Facts about the project

Name: Rehabilitation Programme
Partner organization: East Jerusalem YMCA
Locations: Bethlehem, Hebron, Jenin, Nablus, Ostjerusalem, Qalqilia, Ramallah, Salfit, Tulkarem und Tubas
Goal: Support for adolescents with disabilities and their families, improvement of mental health through therapeutic programmes and preventive measures
Participants: Around 1000 young people with physical and mental disabilities
Required funds 2024: CHF 250'000
Duration: Project exists since 1993, current phase: 2021 - 2024
Responsible: Cyrill Wunderlin, cyrill.wunderlin at horyzon.ch

Facts about Palestine

Population: 4,9 million (2021)
Capital: East Jerusalem
Human Development Index: 0,715 (rank 106 of 191)
Life expectancy: 73,5 years (2022)

Source: Human Development Report