Mennonites back trauma counselling in Gaza

By staff writers
July 20, 2006

Mennonites back trauma counselling in Gaza

-20/07/06

Mennonite Central Committee (the North American inter-Mennonite relief and development agency) is joining the UKís Christian Aid and other church partners by providing some 26,000 additional US dollars to a Palestinian women's organization which helps families and children to cope with the trauma of Israeli attacks in Gaza.

Recent attacks on Palestinian targets, including public utilities, have cut electricity and water supplies in much of Gaza. Local residents are traumatized by gunfire, bombing and the sonic booms of fighter jets.

The Culture and Free Thought Association, a women's organization in Gaza's Khan Younis refugee camp, operates community centers for children, teenagers, women and cultural events.

The association is using MCC's grant to hire five trauma counselors and to purchase a generator and fuel to provide electricity at the community centres, explains Tim Shenk of Mennonite Central Committee.

The counselors will work with a volunteer drama team from the Culture and Free Thought Association to help children deal with trauma creatively by writing and performing skits about their experiences.

Recent Israeli attacks in Gaza began on 28 June 2006 in response to attacks on Israel by the Palestinian Hamas movement. Israel is demanding that Hamas release a captured Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, and halt rocket attacks on Israeli communities. Hamas is demanding the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

Alain Epp Weaver, an MCC representative for Palestine, Jordan and Iraq, says that the violence is contributing to a humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

"All of this comes on top of the fact that you have a very high poverty level in the Gaza Strip," he says. "Up to 80 percent of the population is living on well under 2 US dollars a day."

Israel has greatly limited the flow of goods and people in and out of Gaza in recent years, according to Epp Weaver. Since the recent violence began, Israel has almost completely closed Gaza's borders, and food and fuel have grown scarce.

Epp Weaver says that MCC is working on plans with partner organizations to deliver humanitarian aid in Gaza.

Mennonite Central Committee has financially supported the work of the Culture and Free Thought Association for the last 10 years.

MCC currently provides about 10,000 US dollars a year to fund the association's children's centre, which provides extracurricular activities for about 400 youngsters.

Mennonites are among the ëhistoric peace churchesí, with some 1.3 million worldwide adherents. They are known for their social justice and peace witness ministries.

[Also on Ekklesia: Mennonites diversify peace and justice work in Washington DC; Who Are the Anabaptists: Amish, Brethren, Hutterites and Mennonites by Donald B Kraybill Peace church seeks positive alternatives to military recruitment; Mennonite educationists touch global vision in Egypt; Vietnamese Mennonite church faces violent security raid; Ethiopian Mennonite leader delves into politics; European Mennonite theologians tackle violence and God]

Mennonites back trauma counselling in Gaza

-20/07/06

Mennonite Central Committee (the North American inter-Mennonite relief and development agency) is joining the UKís Christian Aid and other church partners by providing some 26,000 additional US dollars to a Palestinian women's organization which helps families and children to cope with the trauma of Israeli attacks in Gaza.

Recent attacks on Palestinian targets, including public utilities, have cut electricity and water supplies in much of Gaza. Local residents are traumatized by gunfire, bombing and the sonic booms of fighter jets.

The Culture and Free Thought Association, a women's organization in Gaza's Khan Younis refugee camp, operates community centers for children, teenagers, women and cultural events.

The association is using MCC's grant to hire five trauma counselors and to purchase a generator and fuel to provide electricity at the community centres, explains Tim Shenk of Mennonite Central Committee.

The counselors will work with a volunteer drama team from the Culture and Free Thought Association to help children deal with trauma creatively by writing and performing skits about their experiences.

Recent Israeli attacks in Gaza began on 28 June 2006 in response to attacks on Israel by the Palestinian Hamas movement. Israel is demanding that Hamas release a captured Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, and halt rocket attacks on Israeli communities. Hamas is demanding the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

Alain Epp Weaver, an MCC representative for Palestine, Jordan and Iraq, says that the violence is contributing to a humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

"All of this comes on top of the fact that you have a very high poverty level in the Gaza Strip," he says. "Up to 80 percent of the population is living on well under 2 US dollars a day."

Israel has greatly limited the flow of goods and people in and out of Gaza in recent years, according to Epp Weaver. Since the recent violence began, Israel has almost completely closed Gaza's borders, and food and fuel have grown scarce.

Epp Weaver says that MCC is working on plans with partner organizations to deliver humanitarian aid in Gaza.

Mennonite Central Committee has financially supported the work of the Culture and Free Thought Association for the last 10 years.

MCC currently provides about 10,000 US dollars a year to fund the association's children's centre, which provides extracurricular activities for about 400 youngsters.

Mennonites are among the ëhistoric peace churchesí, with some 1.3 million worldwide adherents. They are known for their social justice and peace witness ministries.

[Also on Ekklesia: Mennonites diversify peace and justice work in Washington DC; Who Are the Anabaptists: Amish, Brethren, Hutterites and Mennonites by Donald B Kraybill Peace church seeks positive alternatives to military recruitment; Mennonite educationists touch global vision in Egypt; Vietnamese Mennonite church faces violent security raid; Ethiopian Mennonite leader delves into politics; European Mennonite theologians tackle violence and God]

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