Palestine: Rehabilitation programme

Reintegration of young people with disabilities and traumas. This programme tries to enable them to reintegrate into the social and professional life.

Background and programme context

The occupation of the Palestinian territories, which has lasted for more than 50 years, and the blockade of the Gaza Strip, which has lasted for more than 12 years, have many negative consequences for the civilian population, such as violation of basic human rights, restricted freedom of movement, physical injuries and psychological trauma or economic distress.
In recent years, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has resulted in thousands of injured people who have to learn to live with a permanent disability, psychological or physical. These are mainly paraplegia, walking disabilities, visual and perceptual disorders after gunshot wounds and post-traumatic disorders (sleep disorders, depression, paranoia, breakdown of social contacts or apathy).

The year 2019 was marked by increased settlement activity in the Palestinian territory. Meanwhile, the political climate, which remains very tense, is not helping to improve the situation. The opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem, on the anniversary of the Palestinian occupation, led to serious riots. In 2019 there was a further rapprochement between the US and Israel when US President Trump declared that Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank would not be considered illegal. Furthermore, the lack of aid funds poses further problems for the Palestinian people and aid organisations on the ground.

The economic situation in the Palestinian territory leads to high unemployment. In 2017, 27.4% of the total population was unemployed. The picture is even more dramatic among young people (15-24 years), 43% of whom are not in employment. Among young women, the figure was as high as 70.2% last year. People with disabilities find almost no place in the labour market. Thus 87% of people with disabilities over 18 years of age are unemployed.

Target Groups

Every year, approximately 600 children and young adults with disabilities and trauma throughout the West Bank benefit directly from the programme's services. In addition, around 160 therapists* from the programme and other organisations receive theoretical and practical training and further education.

Aims

The rehabilitation programme aims to support adolescents as well as children and young adults with disabilities and traumas in their social and professional reintegration. The mental health of the Palestinian society is improved through therapeutic offers and preventive measures.

Activities & Effects

Psychosocial Counselling Services

Activities
  • Adolescents receive psychosocial counseling and trauma therapy.
  • Caregivers are trained by therapists in dealing with children and adolescents with disabilities.
Effect

Adolescents as well as children and young adults with disabilities or trauma can better cope with their impairment/trauma.

School and Vocational Reintegration

Activities
  • Support/tutoring for children who have dropped out of school due to their impairment/trauma.
  • Construction of handicapped accessible homes for the beneficiaries and at public facilities, such as schools.
  • Financial contributions for necessary medical aids (e.g., wheelchairs, walkers) and medical treatments (e.g., physical therapy).
  • Vocational counseling, job skills clarification and manual training at the YMCA Vocational Training Center.
  • Provided start-up capital for newly established small businesses by young people with impairments.
Effect

People with impairments are better integrated in Palestinian society and have improved access to education and employment.

Awareness Raising and Public Relations Work

Activities
  • Developing the capacity of other disability organizations in awareness and advocacy through the YMCA Advocacy Coordinators.
  • Organization of public awareness campaigns carried out by people with disabilities.
  • Publication of position papers and lobbying activities with the government, private sector and civil society for better respect of the rights of people with impairments.
  • Conducting education and training for therapists from YMCA East Jerusalem and other organizations in the region.
  • Participation and co-organization of national and international trainings and conferences on topics such as rehabilitation, trauma care and rights of people with disabilities.
Effect

The rights of people with disabilities in Palestine are better respected in all aspects of life.

Emergency program: "Youth for Better Life"

Palestinian adolescents living in East-Jerusalem have been exposed to violence for a long time now and thus often suffering from trauma. Many of them won't finish their school education (36% of all pupills quit school prematurely) or are involved in criminal activities because of the enormous socio-economic inequalities between the Israelis and the Palestinian living in Jerusalem.

For the palestinian youth the situation increasingly poses a challenge because it impairs their social, psychological and economical well-being. At the same time they are beeing deprived of their fundamental rights. The adolescents are exposed to life-threatening incidents from the political and religious conflict, especially after the latest evictions in Sheikh Jarrah and the resulting israel-palestinian violence in 2021. This hinders them to live a stable and normal life and endangers them directly as seen by the many cases of adolescents being abused, tortured, injured and imprisoned by security forces.

YMCA East Jerusalem's "Youth for Better Life" emergency program has set its goal as a temporary intervention of the rehabilitation program to foster adolescents in East Jerusalem by strengthening their coping mechanisms and helping them enable their full potential. To reach this goal the program "Youth for Better Life" focuses on adolescents which are confronted by a range of challenges, including violence, poverty, drug abuse, mental illness and a lack of support and resources in the society.

To fulfill the needs of the adolescents at-risk, the program will mainly make use of art- and music therapies. These two therapies in particular have been clinically proven to help at-risk youth cope with stress and promote awareness, calmness and emotional well-being. Additionally the adolescents will also benefit from structured soft-skill-trainings enabling them to find their place in society. 

PROGRAM OVERVIEW "YOUTH FOR BETTER LIFE"

  • Duration: 2021 - 2022
  • Target Group: 30 endangered adolescents, between 15-18 years old.
  • Required Funds: 23'500 CHF
  • Title: Youth for Better Life
  • Partnerorganisation: YMCA East Jerusalem
  • Location: Jerusalem
  • Goal: Promote growth and coping mechanisms of at-risk youth in East Jerusalem.
  • Responsable: Isabelle Aebersold, isabelle.aebersold at horyzon.ch

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.

Locations

SRF mitenand: Palestinian Youth - Rehabilitation after trauma

Project visits

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Further information

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Facts about the program

Title: Reintegration of Young People with Disabilities and Traumas in Palestine
Partner organization: East Jerusalem YMCA: Rehabilitation Program
Locations: Hebron, Bethlehem, Ramallah, Ostjerusalem, Nablus, Salfit, Tulkarem, Qalqilia, Jenin and Tubas
Objective: to support children and young adults with disabilities and traumas in their social and professional reintegration, including therapeutic measures
Target group: 600 young people, 200 beneficiaries with career guidance, 160 trained therapists
Required funds 2022: CHF 240'000
Duration: 2021-2024 / Programme Phase IX
Responsible: Isabelle Aebersold, isabelle.aebersold@horyzon.ch

Facts about Palestine

Capital: East Jerusalem
Population: 4.8 mill.
Human Development Index: 0.708 (rank 115.)
Life expectancy: 74 years
Median age: 20.8 years
Youth unemployment (15-24 years): 42%

Source: Human Development Report