Iraq: People in Need helping returnee children restore sense of normalcy

Published: Aug 31, 2015 Reading time: 3 minutes
Iraq: People in Need helping returnee children restore sense of normalcy
© Foto: ČvT

In the times when conflict and instability in the middle-eastern region results in displacement of millions of people, there are areas where security situation calmed down and refugees and IDPs can return. This is the case of an area in northern Iraq, in Ninewa province, called Zumar. This region has been occupied by the so-called Islamic State (IS) in July 2014 and at the end of 2014 Kurdish forces pushed the IS to its southern border. Amid the recent violence, looting and destruction, people started going home and start rebuilding sense of normalcy after months of turmoil and displacement.

People in Need has been providing support to the returnees in Ninewa province since the beginning of 2015 and currently started a new project in the area of education with support of UNICEF.

Recovery of the education system and return of the children back to schools is crucial for restoration of the sense of normalcy, especially for children, who were in particular affected by the violence, displacement and chaos. People in Need is assisting 10 schools with over 2500 students by providing training of 160 teachers on psychosocial support, organization of summer activities and back to school campaign for children and parents, providing psychosocial workshops and distribution of teaching and learning materials.

The project started in August 2015 with a training of psychosocial support and teaching skills for 60 teachers from 10 schools. 6 days of training included workshops about post-traumatic stress syndrome, psychological first aid, conflict resolution and open communication.

“The training was really wonderful and interesting for getting information such as how to respect children’s feelings and opinions and also how to comfort them when they are in distress” said Yonis Naif Ahmmed, one of the teachers, who attended the training. “I realized I was treating students badly indeed but after we have been trained we have a lot of knowledge how to treat them and convince them to study well. I have learnt how to change my behavior with the students and support them especially in the bad situation we are facing nowadays,” said Ali Jasin, another teacher.

With one month to the start of the school year teachers returned to their schools as facilitators of summer activities organized by PIN. Every other day workshops and recreational activities take place in 10 schools and so far have been attended by over 1300 children. “It is important to engage children even during summer holidays, our activities help them have fun and relax psychologically, learn new things and prevent them from engaging in unhealthy or bad behavior that can be caused by boredom during holidays” says Alan Bigo, PIN project manager.

On the beginning of September PIN will launch "Back to school" campaign in all of the schools, engaging not only children and teachers, but also parents. Focus groups will be held in all of the villages, where parents will discuss barriers for the access to education and ways how they can help their children develop into their full potential.

Autor: ČvT

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