Photo Gallery - Trauma Counselling

The Anguish and Pain of the children of Gaza told through their drawings

by Zohra Sooliman

At such a tender age, the children of Gaza have endured more pain and suffering than we could in several lifetimes. Not only have they endured the impact of an 18 month siege, depriving them of even the most basic necessities. For 23 days they were subjected to constant bombardment from air, land and sea. The Israeli army deliberately targeted innocent civilians - with children being the ranking highest among the casualties. The trauma of losing family members, friends and classmates is compounded by the destruction to their homes. The gruesome injuries and catastrophic damage only begin to tell the story.

Over our stay in Gaza we worked with many children in schools, refugee camps and orphanages. Due to language being a barrier of communication, we used a non-verbal technique through Art and Play. From the drawings of our children in Gaza, one cannot even begin to imagine their deep pain and sorrow. As portrayed through the illustrations, they describe what they are feeling and thinking when asked through a trauma de-briefing session. What is very apparent that whilst they experience the real pain of death and loss, they also have a profound strength of faith and resilliency.

Most of the drawings depict the destruction and the attacks as one can see helicopters, tanks, soldiers behind barbed wire and even the type of explosives such as white phosphorous. One would see pictures of the martyrs lying down on the ground or injured soldiers in stretchers with their names or messages of victory or text from the Quran. The pages with numbers on them illustrate the intensity of their emotional pain on a continuum from 1 to 10. In some cases they write where in their bodies they feel this fear and pain. The pictures with more happier colours and solid structures portray a sense of hope, future and stability. The cars portray mobility.

These kind of drawings are achieved after about two hours of working with them.

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Acknowledgement: The following pictures are published with the permission of James Oatway (Sunday Times), Erika Gibson (Beeld), Ugen Vos (The Citizen), Theunis Joubert, Salim Sayed and Ayesha Sooliman who accompanied the GOTG aid mission.