HCI’s New Children’s Clinic in The Nahr el Bared Refugee Camp

 Children, Featured Stories from the Field, Health and Sanitation, Lebanon, Youth  Comments Off on HCI’s New Children’s Clinic in The Nahr el Bared Refugee Camp
Feb 072012

HCI's New Children's Clinic in The Nahr el Bared Refugee CampIn the first few weeks since it opened its doors, 280 underprivileged children under the age of fourteen received access to health services at HCI’s recently launched Children’s Clinic in the Nahr el Bared camp. The clinic is managed by our local partners the National Institution of Social Care & Vocational Training organization. HCI fully equipped and staffed the clinic enabling it to provide the necessary health services to the children of the camp, thanks to a Canadian Medical Doctor that is a former resident of the camp.

Health is widely recognized as a cornerstone of human development because it underpins the gamut of human functioning. But health is also essential to human security, since survival and protection from illness are at the core of any concept of people’s wellbeing. The health of children in particular is at risk in the Palestinian camps where the availability of health care access to refugees is very limited. 95% of Palestinian refugees rely on assistance from the UNRWA, the Palestine Red Crescent Society and a myriad of informal civil society networks, in order to access healthcare. Palestinian healthcare in Lebanon is underfunded and chronically unfit for the needs of the refugee population.

HCI's New Children's Clinic in The Nahr el Bared Refugee CampAccording to a survey conducted in 2010 by the American University of Beirut and UNRWA, two-thirds of Palestinian refugees residing in Lebanon live below the poverty line. The inhabitants of The Nahr Al Bared camp in particular are even more marginalized; where five years after the 2007 conflict, the nearly 27,000 Palestinian refugees from the camp are still largely displaced in temporary accommodations in the nearby Beddawi camp, and in the NBC adjacent areas.

Much of the community remains predominantly reliant on international aid for survival. The refugees that have returned to the camp and those in adjacent areas have been profoundly affected by the prolonged displacement and depressed economy. A single case of acute illness can plunge a family deeper into poverty. Furthermore, a third of Palestine refugees living in Lebanon are known to suffer from chronic diseases such as cancer, hypertension or cardiac diseases.

HCI's New Children's Clinic in The Nahr el Bared Refugee CampUpon reviewing the situation, and as part of the ongoing effort to rebuild the Camp that commenced in November 2009 which involves the reconstruction of 5,223 homes and 1,969 commercial units,and the very recent return of the first batch of displaced families to the Camp, it was clear that HCI needed to intervene in the field of children’s health services. Our previous experience working in this field in the north of Lebanon was an asset to us; in 2008 we set up the Happiness Center Clinic, an early detection center for hearing imparities among children in public schools in the north of Lebanon, and before that we provided the Al Mona School for children with special needs children in Tripoli with much needed equipment.

In January, the most common ailments documented by the clinic were respiratory tract infections, gastro intestinal problems, and ear, nose and throat diseases among others. Out of the 280 visits, 241 were new patients and 39 were repeated visits. The resident doctors also refer patients to other free specialized health service providers when needed. The clinic is open Mondays to Thursdays from 8 am to 2 pm.

To date it is estimated that over 500 families that have recently returned have access to the Children’s Clinic and as more families return to reside in the camp (estimated of 1,100 families will return before the end of this year,) there will be an overwhelming need for health services, making our contribution even more invaluable. Our work to build healthy communities, families and individuals is at the heart of HCI’s vision for social change. By establishing this clinic we are helping build the means to improve child and newborn health, ensure proper nutrition and combat infectious diseases.

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Mar 092011

Life can change for millions of families in an instant: natural disasters can take loved ones and the outbreak of war drive families from their homes. When the unthinkable happens, HCI delivers rapid, lifesaving aid to hard-hit communities with the provision of food rations, clean water, non-food items, transitional shelter and emergency medical supplies and services.

The Gaza strip has been devastated by several wars and crippled by a blockade that prevents any meaningful rebuilding, following the opening of Rafah, Gaza’s only gateway to the rest of the world that is not controlled by Israel in 2010, HCI imported food items as part of the Food Security Project through the Rafah crossing for thousands of food-insecure Gazans, paying special attention to provide protein-rich foods such as meat and fish, which are difficult to find or to afford.

As HCI continues to help vulnerable Gazans rebuild their lives two years after the war, our approach has evolved to address the economic, social and psychological impact of war through several multifaceted approaches that target food insecurity, psychosocial support, rehabilitation, and livelihood revival. In 2010, young preschoolers were provided with food, clothing and educational toys. That same year, HCI’s Psychosocial Support for Children Project provided focused support to the most distressed children in Palestine, especially those who lost family members, children with a new physical disability, children who live in women-headed households, and in families that have lost their livelihoods.

Families are uncertain and vulnerable as they return to their communities to rebuild homes and lives after a crisis. HCI helps them transition from relief to recovery through innovative programs that get them back to work quickly, which restores dignity, puts pay in workers’ pockets and injects cash into ailing local economies.

As a result, local low-income farmers were provided the opportunity to supply the basic food items and agricultural products to the bakery HCI established in Gaza as part of The Food Point Project in 2010, giving them access to a direct market and improving their economic stability. The bakery, which provides baked goods to hundreds of food-insecure households, also offers employment opportunities to local vulnerable women, particularly widows and women with special needs. In the same year, economically deprived families in Gaza and the West Bank were provided with income generating capabilities such as backyard production units.

Vulnerable Gazans, particularly people with special needs, were provided with tailored services to boost their employability such as the distribution of appliances that contribute to accessibility and mobility, essential medical equipment and other essential items, contributing to independence and a better standard of living as part of the Reviving Lives and Livelihoods project.

HCI has been providing lifesaving care and life-changing assistance to refugees and internally displaced people forced to flee from war or disaster in the Middle East for decades. In 2010 HCI worked with the internally displaced in Khartoum, Sudan helping disabled entrepreneurs to set up small businesses and teaching young orphans entrepreneurial skills. In the new Lake Nasser Settlements in Egypt, HCI distributed food and meat during Ramadan and Eid al Adha feast to underprivileged settlers.

HCI is always on the forefront of emergency response in the Middle East, always ready to intervene whenever crisis strikes, our interventions are swift yet carefully tailored to suit the situation at hand. HCI welcomes your partnership in caring for the world’s poor, including those affected by situations requiring an emergency response. Right now, our teams are working to provide aid to vulnerable children and families who are clinging to survival in the wake of natural and man-made disasters.

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Mar 092011

Education is the foundation of progress, but it is often interrupted by extreme poverty, war and other crises. As a result, individuals and their communities often can’t reach their full potential. HCI works to bring access to education to women and men of all ages and economic groups to help ensure a better future for all. HCI programs include a wide range of activities: teacher training programs, building libraries and Internet centers, providing books and classroom furniture to under-resourced schools, and promoting equal access to education.

HCI helps mobilize youth to influence a better tomorrow, while also offering education and job training to give them a place in the changing global economy. HCI programs empower youth through service learning and leadership training to become active in their communities and act as agents for change. As a result of this, in 2010 young orphans in Sudan benefitted from HCI’s entrepreneurship training workshops and real life “business for a day” programs, and young entrepreneurs with disability in Darfur, Sudan, received coaching in micro-business management. Meanwhile in Gaza and The West Bank, HCI also provided people with special needs with vocational training, coaching, and business development services.

In 2010, orphans in Sudan received the training and materials necessary to embark on their own business ventures. They were also given the opportunity to test their ideas under real-life circumstances, giving them real, relevant instruction on how to build a successful and sustainable business as part of the Today’s Orphans Tomorrow’s Entrepreneurs project

Education is vital to the social and economic integration of future generations. HCI places a significant focus on this sector to ensure that children affected by conflict can continue to pursue their education. HCI works with communities to shelter and nurture children through innovative education, health and nutrition programs. In 2010 hundreds of orphans from the poorest communities of the Middle East were able to have their basic education, healthcare and nutrition needs met through HCI’s Child Sponsorship Program. In the same year HCI worked with several kindergartens in Gaza, supporting health services and nutrition programs targeting underprivileged children and HCI also supported the Human Concern Kindergarten that was launched in 2009; the kindergarten is located in Bethlehem and targets children with special needs, particularly those with hearing impairments.

Women are the foundation of every society. Yet for many women in the world’s poorest regions, life is extraordinarily difficult. Through innovative health, agricultural, business and education programs, HCI builds on the courage and resourcefulness of women to help them realize their potential and improve their families and communities. In 2010, Sudanese widows in the settlements around Khartoum, Sudan were able to set up small businesses with the financial support of HCI’s revolving microcredit funds, young girls in low income suburbs of Beirut, Lebanon are now able to design and implement community oriented development interventions and female social workers in Gaza had their capacities built in individualized needs assessments and breast cancer awareness with the help of HCI.

HCI aims at breaking down the sense of dependency of the local community on HCI, as a result, our projects are community-managed from the start. HCI programs are participatory and at the same time integrated development projects. Qualified community leaders are identified and trained on management and development issues relevant to the project. In this way project sustainability, particularly institutional sustainability, is ensured through handing “ownership” of project activities to the local community, this simultaneously empowers the community and ensures the sustainability of the project’s activities. In 2010 HCI built the capacities of several of its local partners in both Lebanon and Gaza as part of the Youth Impact Project and the Reviving Lives and Livelihoods project respectively. Giving them further training and tools that will help complement the important work that they do.

Many of poverty’s root causes can be found in conflict over resources, philosophies and goals, and societies are more peaceful and prosperous when citizens are actively involved in decision-making. In 2010, HCI created safe spaces where a group of young men and women from a low income suburb of Beirut from different religious, ethnic and political backgrounds came together to discuss and debate the choices that affect their lives and communities. HCI believes that engaging potential adversaries in productive dialogue can lead to mutually beneficial solutions for change. Conflict resolution today can help avoid tomorrow’s wars and other crises.

The 2010 Youth Impact Project also provided these Lebanese youth with developmental training and tools which led them to work together to produce a report mapping the challenges faced by their community and gave them an in-depth socio-cultural understanding and analysis that pays equal attention to existing social tensions, and conflicts including but not limited to gender, religion, sect, and race.

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Comprehensive Healthy Eating and Living Guide for Lebanese Children

 Children, Farm to School, Health and Sanitation, Lebanon  Comments Off on Comprehensive Healthy Eating and Living Guide for Lebanese Children
Mar 032011

Click here to download the manual (PDF; 34 pages; 7.74 MB)

لتنزيل هذا الدليل إضغط هنا (PDF; 7.74 MB)

Fact: There are now more than 1 billion obese people on earth.

Fact: In the Middle East, obesity rates have tripled over the past three decades.

Fact: Obesity is linked to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, stroke, and certain forms of cancer. It is one of the leading causes of preventable death worldwide.

Fact: Physical activity has steadily declined, depriving children and adults of a key element to living a longer, healthier, happier life.

Fact: Healthy eating, combined with increased physical activity, is the only way to prevent the continued spread of the obesity epidemic.

Do you know how much grain, fruit, vegetables, milk, oils, meat and beans you should consume every day…?

HCI has the answer to this question, and many others, in our comprehensive healthy eating and living guide for children. Included are ten recipes for specially developed nutritious meals which use ingredients easily available throughout the region, and are tailored to local tastes. A balanced, nutritious diet is the key to a long, productive life. When combined with regular physical activity it can help relieve stress and provide an overall feeling of well-being. Physical activity increases the amount of calories burned, compensates for a lowered metabolism caused by aging, helps you to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, and lowers the risk of chronic disease. By combining regular physical activity with a nutritious diet we can make Lebanon healthier one person at a time.

Click here to download the manual (PDF; 34 pages; 7.74 MB)

لتنزيل هذا الدليل إضغط هنا (PDF; 7.74 MB)

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Child Sponsorship Program

 Child Sponsorship, Children, Current Emergency Appeals, Orphans  Comments Off on Child Sponsorship Program
Feb 022011

From Survival to Long Term Sustainability

The number of orphans and children from single mother-headed households in the Arab world has risen dramatically over the past few years due to war, natural disasters, and other crises. Poverty and economic hardship also have added to children born out of wedlock who are considered orphans.

For the past decade, HCI has been addressing this problem by sponsoring orphans in the poorest communities in Palestine, Sudan, Lebanon and Egypt as part of HCI’s regional Child Sponsorship Program. There now are hundreds of orphans from Khartoum’s, Tripoli’s, Jerusalem’s, Darfur’s and Gaza’s poorest communities having their basic needs met through HCI –health care, nutrition, education, guidance–getting a shot at a brighter future.

HCI’s Child Sponsorship Program is designed to assist orphans and their families in both the short and long term. The sponsorship is given to the orphan and their family to help towards living costs. Moreover, by enabling a child to receive a sound level of education you empower them to build for themselves a brighter future and to provide for their family too.

Assisting the poor and needy is part of a long and sacred tradition in the Muslim World. HCI is pleased to be part of that tradition and to be able to work with local organizations to assure that contributions made reach those most in need. All orphans sponsored by the scheme are individually selected by HCI in partnership with grassroots partners. A child’s age, family size, family income and living conditions are looked at to assess need. Once sponsorship has begun HCI continues to maintain regular contact with the child to ensure wellbeing and that the child continues to progress through school. In Sudan for example, for about a dollar a day, you can help support a child in our Child Sponsorship Program.

Upon sponsorship, sponsors are sent an information pack with details of the orphan(s) they are sponsoring, such as their age, circumstance, schooling, information about their community and a local address for correspondence. In addition, HCI will continue to provide you with annual feedback updates on the child’s wellbeing and school reports.

Sponsorship continues until an orphan reaches the age of 16. As sponsored orphan approaches this age we give the sponsor the option either of continuing sponsorship under the HCI Higher Education Sponsorship Program or changing sponsorship to support a younger child.

HCI ensure that each orphan receives correspondences from the sponsor and it is translated if necessary. Sponsors can also correspond directly with the sponsored child.

Sponsorship costs between $60 and $30 per month for orphans in Palestine, Lebanon, and Egypt and Sudan. This contributes to school fees, clothing and footwear for the orphan, and money for the orphan’s family. Please contact us if you are interested to sponsor a child.


Entrepreneurship development, schooling support, higher education support, vocational training, psychosocial support programs, health services and several other programs have been developed by HCI to reduce immediate needs of orphans and to create greater opportunities for their future progress.

Their single mothers have also been supported through health services, food and non-food item distributions, awareness campaigns, access to finance, and the development of income generating activities to improve the economic health of the entire family to help them make the leap from survival to long term sustainability.

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HCI Celebrates Arab Orphan Day with Sponsored Children

 Child Sponsorship, Children, Egypt, Gaza Strip, Lebanon, Palestine, Sudan  Comments Off on HCI Celebrates Arab Orphan Day with Sponsored Children
May 042010

Though Human Concern International works every day to improve the lives of orphans, one day is particularly crucial: Arab Orphan Day. Declared by the Arab league as a response to the many challenges faced by orphans, it falls on the first Friday of every April. It is designed to build awareness of the plight many of these children face, and to serve as a celebration of both them, and those who work tirelessly to improve their lives. On this day the goal is not to raise money, it is simply to give the children the chance to do what children do best: play, laugh, and make new friends. It is a day to remind orphans that they are not forgotten; they are valued and cherished. HCI, along with our local partners, celebrated this day in the Middle East.

Orphans throughout the Arab world are stigmatized, marginalized and severely disadvantaged. In a society where family is of the utmost importance, they are often isolated. As a result, they are at risk of exploitation and may be forced into dangerous and degrading work, including child labor, and sexual exploitation. Without financial and emotional support from a complete family environment, they must bear responsibilities well beyond what should be required of someone their age. They run the risk of becoming adults inexperienced and unfamiliar with the values and skills normal for participation in society in a productive, positive, and sustainable manner.

Human Concern International has gone to great lengths to reverse and prevent some of the disconcerting trends faced by orphans. By providing financial and community support, our program can help to prevent the isolation of children, and rebuild damaged self esteem. We seek to empower these children, and their care-givers, so that they may become self-sufficient, happy, productive members of society.


Orphan DayOrphans in Gaza face perhaps the most difficult conditions in the entire region, and their numbers are growing. During the 2008-2009 Israeli incursions, nearly 1,500 children were orphaned in the space of less than a month. They must face the violence, deprivation and uncertainty of a life under siege without the stabilizing support of a complete family. On Arab Orphan Day HCI and its local partner, the Aid and Hope Program for Cancer Patients (AHP), took a group of orphaned children out for a day of fun. There was face painting, a playground, and the chance to relax for children living under extreme conditions. They were also given a good, healthy meal which included chicken and meat. This is very important, as meat is now prohibitively expensive for the majority of people in Gaza, and as a result children face a whole host of nutritional problems including iron deficiency, and a lack of protein. The children loved their food, and the chance to play together. They were eager to write letters for their sponsors, and were very reluctant to leave when the event finally ended.


Orphan DayOn Arab Orphan Day, HCI and its local partner, the Gozour Foundation, took a group of orphans between the ages of 5-16, along with their mothers, out for a day of carefree entertainment. They were brought to the “Fangoon” art school where they were given the chance to paint, make pottery and jewelry, and generally have fun. For both children and mothers it was a welcome relief from the stresses of their daily struggle to survive. Our organizers could not help but smile at the sight of the children having such fun together. A deteriorating economy and increased hunger means that these orphans face many challenges, but HCI is working to better the lives of as many as possible. The day also marked the commencement of HCI’s Child Sponsorship Program in Egypt, which will match donors with children in need, and give those children the financial support they require to have a fair chance at a productive life. The event raised awareness amongst local communities of the valuable work performed by HCI, and helped to strengthen links and support networks. We can be sure that the children will not forget their special day of fun, and as they finally had to go back to their homes they told us they were already looking forward to next year’s event.


Orphan DayArab Orphan Day in Lebanon was celebrated in Tripoli by HCI taking 25 orphans out for a day of fun in cooperation with our local partner, the CIWS. They were given the chance to meet, play, and eat outdoors in a healthy environment with other children who face the same challenges of living as orphans in Lebanon. The children come from families who live in poverty, and survive on donations to make ends meet. The stress and uncertainty they face every day takes a severe emotional toll, and deprives them of a child’s basic right to play and develop healthily. On Arab Orphan Day we sought to provide them with some relief, if only for a short period. They live in crowded, poor neighborhoods where parks and public spaces are non-existent. The chance for them to visit a pleasant, outdoor environment was something they do not normally get to experience, and they loved every minute of it. They started the day with a great meal at the local “Yalla Yalla” restaurant, which also had an indoor playground which the children enjoyed immensely. After, they were taken to banks of the local river where they could relax, play, and enjoy each other’s company. The sound of the children, their mothers, and the volunteers all singing together was a welcome change from the often bleak picture of life in the Mediterranean’s poorest city. The day gave these children what they needed most, a chance to escape from the difficulties of daily life, and the knowledge that they are indeed loved and appreciated.

Rights Based Approach:

Orphan DayIn all of our activities, whether in Egypt, Lebanon, Palestine or Sudan, HCI takes a rights based approach towards working with orphans. Our actions are intended to comply with, and realize, the articles set forth in the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). This document, ratified by 192 nations, is a powerful tool in the global effort to enhance children’s right to education, health care and safety. Although it is the state’s responsibility to fulfill the obligations outlined in the convention, in practice limited resources means that this is not always possible. It is, therefore, incumbent on non state actors, like HCI, to fill the gaps. Children are vulnerable, and lack the political power to claim their rights themselves. The CRC is a powerful tool that places obligations which every nation must meet for the sake of their children. HCI, through our child sponsorship program and events like the Arab Orphan Day celebration, is working towards a day when all children can benefit from the rights of the CRC.

Future Challenges:

Orphan DayUnfortunately, the checkered, unstable political landscape of the Middle East has bred conflicts such as in Lebanon, Palestine and Sudan. The deaths of fathers and mothers in these events has created an altogether new tragedy, as the children they leave behind join the growing ranks of the region’s orphans. This means that HCI’s support will be needed ever more in the future. We must continue to work towards a day when orphan children will enjoy all of the same opportunities and joys as others, and rightfully take their place as full members of society. Though events like Arab Orphan Day are undeniably helpful, there is still much work to be done.

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Video: HCI presents the Child Sponsorship Program

 Child Sponsorship, Children, Gaza Strip, Lebanon, Orphans, Palestine  Comments Off on Video: HCI presents the Child Sponsorship Program
Mar 152010

HCI presents the Child Sponsorship Program; the case of Majd from Gaza

HCI presents the Child Sponsorship Program; the case of Abdel Rahman and Bara’ Hashem from Lebanon

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Video: HCI presents The Happiness Forest: Bringing Together and Empowering Iraqi Refugees and Their Hosts

 Children, Iraq, Protection and Human Rights, Video  Comments Off on Video: HCI presents The Happiness Forest: Bringing Together and Empowering Iraqi Refugees and Their Hosts
Feb 042010

A group of underprivileged Iraqi and Jordanian children volunteers met after school over couple of months to rehearse for a play called The Happiness Forest.

The play served as a safe and effective space for the children to learn lessons on peaceful coexistence, pluralism, gender equality, tolerance and non-violence.

The play was debut on the prestigious Royal Cultural Center in Amman, Jordan and was attended by hundreds of children from the same unprivileged neighborhoods.

The play is produced by Noura Al-Qaisi and directed by Mohamed Amro in participation with New Development (NDev) and Jordanian Child Theater.

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Equal Treatment for All: Helping Disadvantaged Child Cancer Patients in Egypt

 Children, Egypt, Health and Sanitation  Comments Off on Equal Treatment for All: Helping Disadvantaged Child Cancer Patients in Egypt
Feb 042010

57357Today, February 4th, is World Cancer Day. All around the world people and organizations are marking the occasion by raising awareness and funds to combat what remains one of the leading causes of death. Human Concern International has been active in this universal cause. Recently, we encouraged breast cancer screening for women in Gaza in co-operation with the Aid and Hope Centre for the Care of Cancer Patients. Early detection of breast cancer is the key to effective treatment, and reduced fatalities. Now, we are continuing our effort by supporting Egypt’s largest and most effective children’s cancer hospital, The Children’s Cancer Hospital Egypt (57357). Please join us, and the countless others, who are working towards a future without cancer.

Cancer kills 7.9 million people every year, and is the leading cause of death for children between the ages of 1-14 worldwide. Tragically, many of these deaths are entirely preventable. In the developed world, the advent of new treatments has seen cancer survival rates steadily climb, but, as with so many other things, these treatments are not available in much of the developing world. The result is that children in Egypt, for example, are twice as likely to die from cancer as children in North America. One cannot imagine the pain families must endure when their child is lost simply because he or she did not have access to adequate medical care.

In Egypt, a country of 81.5 million people, only 350 hospital beds are dedicated to treating child cancer patients, and no more than 100 physicians have received pediatric oncology or hematology training. It is one of many nations which do not devote enough funds to pediatric oncology out of the misguided belief that it is prohibitively expensive, and resources would have a greater effect elsewhere. This simply is not the case, as a recent study by St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital has demonstrated that even a small increase in funding can dramatically improve survival rates. Prevention and early diagnosis programs are highly cost effective, and do not require advanced technologies. Despite the evidence, the World Health Organization does not have any program in place to correct the huge disparities in cancer survival rates worldwide. The result: children in the countries like Egypt continue to die unnecessarily.

Psycho-social support for child cancer patients, and their families, is particularly lacking in Egypt. It is considered merely as an afterthought, if at all, and families must often face the emotional challenges of cancer without professional support. Adding to this is the stress resulting from poverty, and the daily struggle to gather adequate funds to pay for treatment. Many families simply cannot bear the emotional or financial burden, and as a result they abandon cancer treatment programs for their children prematurely.

57357The Children’s Cancer Hospital Egypt (57357) has taken it upon itself to correct the imbalance, and ensure that even the poorest children of Egypt have access to the same life saving treatments and support as their more fortunate counterparts. Operating since July 7, 2007, it is now the largest pediatric oncology centre in the Middle East and Africa. Its facilities include Egypt’s first specialized department of physiology, social work, and psychiatry for pediatric oncology. Creating a single hospital devoted to pediatric oncology has enormous benefits. The hospital staff is both highly trained and highly motivated. It has created a nucleus for training new physicians, carries out groundbreaking research, and provides top level treatment. By collaborating with experts worldwide, the hospital is able to integrate the most advanced medical knowledge into its treatment of patients.

The hospital has recognized the need not only for state of the art medical care, but also for a more comprehensive approach. As such, it has inaugurated the country’s first school program for hospitalized children, to ensure that they will be given the chance to succeed once they have completed their treatment. It provides support to families as they struggle to cope with the stress of a cancer diagnosis for their child. Hospital staff work with the community to raise awareness about cancer screening, and early detection, as a way to improve survival rates, and save the lives of countless children.

57357CCHE serves all Egyptians, regardless of their ethnicity, religion, or ability to pay. All treatments and medications are provided free of charge if a family lacks sufficient financial means. Also, economic support is given to families who must often travel long distances to visit their children undergoing treatment, and who would otherwise be unable to afford the journey. Housing and job opportunities are provided when necessary. All of this means that now less than one percent of patients abandon treatment, whereas economic hardship previously caused almost 16 percent to not finish their programs. The hospital is a model which should be followed throughout the Middle East, and the world.

Human Concern International, in recognition of the hospital’s achievements and vision, has provided them significant financial support. The hospital is committed to sustainability, and we can be certain that no dollar will be wasted. It is money that will be used to help the hospital to expand, bringing its life-saving treatment, education, and message to ever larger numbers. We wish the hospital the best of luck, and are privileged to aid such a worthy program. We are certain that they will continue to provide high quality care to all those who need it for years to come.

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Providing a Better Future for Mentally and Physically Challenged West Bank Children through Education

 Children, Disability, Education and Empowerment, Housing and Infrastructure, Palestine, West Bank  Comments Off on Providing a Better Future for Mentally and Physically Challenged West Bank Children through Education
Dec 112009

HCI KG West BankFrequent arrests, military raids, over 600 Israeli military checkpoints, severely restricted freedom of movement, and ever-expanding settlements occupying more and more land are all a part of life in the West Bank. Conflict, poverty, unemployment, and isolation have left its residents with an uncertain future. The physically and mentally challenged, who according to WHO estimates make up 7-10% of the Palestinian population, are far from immune to these issues. To make matters worse, continued conflict, landmines, and political instability mean that the number of challenged individuals will continue to rise. They are subjected to societal prejudice and lack of opportunities. Discrimination against the physically and mentally challenged is widespread, and extends into the educational system. This prejudice, combined with the very poor state of accessibility throughout the West Bank due to hilly geography and lack of reliable public transport, means that young, challenged children are often denied the chance to attend school.

Children, in particular, are sensitive to the traumatic events which characterize life in the West Bank, and it affects their development acutely. Disabled children may be faced with two challenges, both the physical handicap of, for example, a hearing impairment, and the emotional damage caused by the sudden loss of a family member due to the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Displacement and an uncertain future are felt by children as well as adults. They are deprived of the sense of stability and social cohesion that is critical for healthy psychosocial development.

HCI KG West BankThe Palestinian Authority does not have the resources to aid these children. Funding for specialized schools is not readily available, and the economic crisis throughout the West Bank means that resources remain scarce. Restricted movement and occupation have taken their toll on the West Bank economy, and in turn on the funds available to the Palestinian Authority. This means that it is up to Non-Governmental Organizations like Human Concern International to fill the gap, and give the children the education they need for a real chance at a fulfilling life.

Without education physically and mentally challenged children are often doomed to a life of dependency and poverty. To prevent this from happening they must be reached at as young an age as possible. Numerous studies have shown that early childhood development is crucial for success later in life. In light of these facts HCI, along with local partners like the Vocational Rehabilitation Workshops Society for Girls (VRWSG), have established a unique kindergarten in Bethlehem targeted specifically at physically and mentally challenged children with a special focus on the hearing impaired; there is much work to be done in the field of providing early education opportunities for special needs children in Palestine and The Human Concern Kindergarten (which was given its name by the local partners in recognition of HCI’s efforts in the region) is proud to be one of the pioneers that provides these children with a much needed sense of normalcy and stability that is sorely lacking in the lives of West Bank children. It gives them the confidence they need to face the enormous challenges which await them later in life.

HCI KG West BankThe school has a capacity of forty children. That is forty Palestinian children who are given a safe haven, specialized training, and a chance at a better future. Teachers trained in sign language give hearing impaired children the chance to fully communicate. Furthermore, the school not only aids the hearing impaired, it is also fully accessible to the physically challenged, and has staff ready and able to deal with whatever difficulty the children may face, whether is it physical or mental. The school is fully equipped, and all facilities (rooms, entrance/exits, door, kitchen, toilets, playground, etc) are approved by the Ministry of Higher Education as fully accessibilities for children with mental, hearing, or physical impairments. Its staff includes counselors specially trained to work with deaf and mute pre-school children, as well as social workers capable of providing psychosocial support.

HCI KG West BankHelping children is critical for the future of the West Bank. It not only aids the children themselves, it also aids their parents and families through the activities organized by the kindergarten. It teaches children to become self-reliant, which will in turn relieve future financial burdens placed on family budgets already stretched to the breaking point by restricted movement and a depressed economy. Outreach activities inform parents of the importance of educating their children, and sign language training is given to the families of deaf and mute children so that they are able to fully communicate together. The kindergarten has helped boost the local Bethlehem economy by creating nine new full-time jobs. It not only symbolizes a chance at a better life for the children, it also represents hope for the future of the community.

Social workers employed by the kindergarten help to reduce the stigma that challenged children face amongst their fellow Palestinians. By working with local residents they encourage greater acceptance of physically and mentally challenged children throughout the community. This is done through actions such as the training of government workers in the use of sign language so that they are better able to communicate with hearing impaired children. The kindergarten itself ensures that challenged children meet others who face the same difficulties, and lets them know that they are not alone in their struggle. It is a bright spot in the otherwise bleak lives of children who are not often given the chance to succeed. Little by little we are working towards the day when these children will no longer be outsiders; a day when they will be able to contribute to the building of a more prosperous, accepting Palestinian society.

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