20/06/2012 - Psychological pressure is nothing new to the people of Palestine, but for Mustafa, 15, the political warfare outside his doorstep had less of an impact on him than the emotional havoc he endured at home. On the back of a truck, SOS Children's Villages has delivered something to Mustafa and others like him. Something, that has brought relief and hope to the heart of the community.
|In the heart of the community - the Psychosocial Mobile Centre near Ramallah @SOS Archives |
Among the Judean hills overlooking the city of Ramallah a young boy cries as his decrepit flock of sheep struggle to find the grazing required to sustain them. Too weak to move, the animals suffer additional pain as sticks and stones are hurled at them by the frustrated child who vents his emotional agony. His outburst is due in part to his hatred of his violent father who forced him to leave school in order to rear sheep as a way to contribute to household income. His jobless parents and five siblings were not spared from the effects of the high level of unemployment that cripples the West Bank.
His sister – four years his senior – managed to attend university until the family’s dire economic circumstances shattered her dreams. While one of his older brothers is serving a 13-year jail term in Israel, another is confined to home – paralysed and permanently disabled. For Mustafa*, the pain is greater as he is forced to relive his own experiences through his six-year-old brother who suffers from a behavioural disorder due to emotional neglect.
The beating Mustafa inflicted on his flock led to the death of a sheep. The beating administered by his father as a consequence left the boy bloodied, suicidal, reclusive and emotionally scarred. He hated everything and everyone, screaming whenever he heard his father’s voice in his head. Fortunately, his mother was well aware of the urgent need for psychological support. In a territory where barriers of various kinds hinder access to basic public services, a blue flag fluttering next to what looked like a big white box signalled hope. Mustafa’s mother had arrived at the Psycho-Social Mobile Centre run by SOS Children’s Villages.
|Psychological counselling helping families cope in the Palestinian territories @ SOS Archives |
Family strengthened through guidance and practical support
Professional counselling over the next several weeks led Mustafa to overcome the rage that had bottled up inside him – rage that stemmed not only from years of mistreatment at the hands of his father, but also from the difficult social circumstances related to the ongoing political conflict that has brought his family and the wider community to their knees.
While addressing Mustafa’s specific needs, the psycho-social team also provided counselling to his younger brother and parents. By understanding the issues that led to his father’s actions, professionals from various disciplines within SOS Children’s Villages were in a position to provide therapy, general guidance and practical support that has since considerably strengthened the family.
Life remains tough for all who live in the Palestinian territories. However, by understanding the rights and needs of their children, parents have developed better coping mechanisms. Putting the past behind him is made easier for Mustafa as his mind is now preoccupied with fixing cars in a local garage, and he looks forward to taking his place in college where a promising future awaits him.
* The boy's name has been changed to protect his identity.
The above is an extract from the SOS Children's Villages Annual Report 2011