Project visit in Lebanon 2.2.-15.2.2014
Sirkku Kivistö and Kirsti Palonen on behalf of Finnish Psychologists for Social Responsibility (FiPSR) and Finnish-Arab Friendship Society (FAFS) for cooperation with the Palestinian NGO Beit Atfal Assumoud (BAS) – officially the National Institution of Social Care and Vocational Training (NISCVT). 12 days for FiPSR, 2 days for FAFS.
One of the important tasks was to approve and sign partnership agreements for the new projects (4.2.2014):
Finnish Psychologists for Social Responsibility (FiPSR): “Mental health services for refugee children in South Lebanon”. 2014-2016, support for FGC Saida 95740 annually and for FGC El-Buss (partial financing) 39 740 € annually.
Finnish Arab Friendship Society (FAFS): “Mental health services for children in Northern refugee camps of Lebanon” 2014-2016, support for FGC Beddawi and FGC Nahr el-Bared, each, annually 86 000 €.
Another aim was to prepare report of the closed project and to monitor the ongoing projects:
“Mental health interventions in high risk conditions – FGC Saida”, project 2010-2013, will be reported to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs latest 30th April.
“Services for Palestinian children with multiple special needs and their families in Lebanon”(2013-2015).
In following two projects the role of FiPSR is assistant cooperation:
“Educational services for the Palestinian refugee children displaced from Syria in Lebanon”, project of BAS together with the Finnish Embassy (2014-2015).
Sponsorship program of FAFS to support the social work of BAS through “Family happiness” and “Elderly sponsorship” –programs and early education program through “Kindergarten sponsorship”.
Discussions about other cooperation in the year 2014
Extreme survival team EST – action plan for 2014 or revision of the concept
Solidarity stitches (network in Finland)
Dental Care for Ismail Jerbi (three donors in Finland)
Support for PRS (fund raising for emergency help)
Stress reduction workshop for the staff (project planned by Ms Kirsti Palonen and Ms Nina Lyytinen)
Attaché, Mr Petri Hautaniemi from Foreign Ministry visited Lebanon to learn about the work of Beit Atfal Assumoud 13-14.2. 2014. Mr Juha Rainne from Finnish Embassy joined the visit 14th February.
|Day by day program in Lebanon 2-15.2.2014 Arrival in Beirut 2.2. at 23:20, departure 15.2. at 7:00.|
|Mon 3.2.||In the main office of BAS we planned with Director Kassem Aina the program of the visit and then went with Ms Ibtissam Khalil to Lebanese Army in Saida to apply for permission to enter Ein el-Helweh camp. In FGC Saida we met shortly also the three social workers, psychologist Muhammed Arrabi and the cleaner.|
|Tue 4.2.||Main office; signing the partnership agreements, FiPSR and FAFS.
First meeting in financial department about the financial and audit reports 2013.
In Shatila center we joined in the anniversary party of Director of the Center, Ms Jamile Shehadé. She is a long-term partner in social work for FiPSR. We met also intern of social work, Ms Laura Moilanen from Tampere University and NGO Global Social Work.
We also met Ms Eiham Slaylan who teaches one of the two classes for Palestinian children displaced from Syria in Lebanon (PRS).
|Wed 5.2.||At 9:00 in the Main office and at 10.30 in FGC Beirut, meeting with Dr Madeleine Badaro Taha and Ms Liliane Younes and Director Kassem Aina. We discussed about the report of the three-year project FGC Saida and about the new project plans, budget and partnership agreement FiPSR & BAS (Southern FGCs) and FAFS & BAS (Northern FGCs). We decided to invite Dr Aziza Khalidi to next meeting to discuss about the external evaluation of the projects. Also we discussed about the upcoming trainings for the FGC staff, e.g. training for FGC social workers will be planned with Dr Hind Shaarawi. Cooperation with Dr Nageh Sadek will be needed to learn about the UNRWA initiative, supported by EU, to integrate mental health service to the public health service in Lebanon.|
|Thu 6.2.||At 9:00 FGC Beirut, meeting with Ms Liliane Younes and Mr Wissam Kheir about the MSN-services –project. We learned that the second round of measurement (CBCL) for the children included in the three-year study will be done in February 2014. We discussed about the inclusion criteria to the MSN-services –project. The children who benefit from long-term special education/rehabilitation are the main group in the project. In addition there are children, who need medical rehabilitation. Third group are children who do not have access in education or medical treatment, who might need some rehabilitation and practical help at home, including the guidance for the parents. Also, we discussed about somewhat complicated financial management of the project. There are individual sponsors from different countries (11 from Finland) and the project funds. Liliane accepts the bills of the special schools/institutes. FiPSR needs the audited financial report about the project costs, but in addition for the individual sponsors FiPSR needs financial report how the individual sponsorship money is used. Individual sponsors assist the project by the ear-marked-sponsorship money. In addition, there was discussion about the codes of children linking together FGC data and financial department data of the clients.
At 12:00 meeting in the main center/financial department with auditor, Mr Raghid al-Adass. We checked the FGC Saida project report and preliminary audit report, and began to see the MSN-service project –reports.
Afterwards we visited Shatila center.
|Fri 7.2.||Visit to Saida FGC and Ein el-Helweh camp center. First, we visited the Happy Home, and Director Bassam Chamoun presented the house to us. We met Elias, who has a Finnish sponsor. The tuition price in the house covering all the costs is 4000 USD/child/year. Very high price for the parents and for the project. After Happy Home –visit we attended the music therapy session of four boys, given by psychologist Mohammed Arrabi.
We had difficulties at the entrance gate to the camp despite the approved permissions. We were reminded about the restrictions of photographing in the camp. The soldiers did not get contact to their office to check the issue, and Ibtissam had to go to the army again. After 1 ½ hours we succeeded to enter the camp.
In Ein el-Helweh –center we met 5 sponsored children, and they wrote messages to their sponsors. Then we met two KG-teachers and one assistant, who work for the PRS children in two classes. These classes are financed by the Finnish Embassy in Beirut, local cooperation project funds. On the way back to FGC Saida we visited in the camp Hiba, who has Finnish sponsor.
Again, being back to the FGC Saida, we could attend the music therapy session for one girl and one boy. The girl, Doa´a, has sponsoring group in Finland and the boy, Ibrahim, in Italy.
Back to Beirut by buss without any complications.
|Sat 8.2.||7:30 departure with Kassem Aina to the North. In Byblos we met Liliane Younes, who shared the visit to the North. In Beddawi we were informed about the actual situation of PRS services. We met three Syrian young boys, who are in the vocational training in Beddawi Center, and also the KG class for Syrian children. Lebanese army in Beddawi approved the permission to Nahr el-Bared camp, which still is under military control. In Nahr el-Bared we met the new social worker of FGC, Ms Labiba Abed El Rahim, psychiatrist, Dr Abbas Alameddin, speech therapist Ms xx and psychologist, Mr Wissam Kheir.
We learned that the symptoms of the child, which are more easily recognized by parents, are difficulties in speech and enuresis. However, the awareness about the complexity of the psychological symptoms has grown. The concept of special education is not familiar among many families, therefore several problems might be to overcome in in accepting services, e.g. transportation with its costs. The costs of special school and transportations can be 5000 USD – 7900 USD, not affordable for Palestinian families.
In FGC Nahr el-Bared discussion was stated, that the true problems and service gaps are in education, even the emphasis of UNRWA is in medical aspects.
Due to the security problems, there are difficulties to recruit new professionals for FGC Nahr el-Bared. There might be one psychologist willing to function as psychotherapist, and the recruiting process is going on.
|Sun 9.2.||At 9:30 we arrived in Shatila camp. Sundays are activity days in the center and always two of the social workers share the coordination work of the day. Today they were Jamile and Zuhour.
In the morning Director Jamile introduced us Amina, 18 years, who came to participate the societal issues discussion group. Her family situation has been severe, mother lost her legs in Sabra & Shatila massacre, her father is blind. However, gradually Amina with her siblings have gained independence and better situation.
We followed several musical training group sessions. Shatila camp center has a lot of volunteers assisting in the services. Voluntary teachers for oud, drums and violin offer their lessons to the children and youth. We were told that in Syria the possibilities to study art have been better than in Lebanon. In Shatila center the children can increase the possibilities to develop one´s artistic skills.
We met several sponsored children, both by FiPSR and FAFS in Shatila. In addition, we met Farah, 15-year-old girl, who was once interviewed by the local TV. She told that she wants to become President of Palestine. We interviewed Farah about her presidential program. Kirsti Palonen wrote an article about this interview to AKYS-tiedote (FAFS newspaper).
There are a lot of newcomers invading to Shatila, the result is, that people do not know any more everybody living in the community. This causes uncertainty and sometimes fears, told Director Jamile Shehade.
We visited with social workers Jamile and Zuhour the family of Mona, 8-year-old girl, who goes to a special school and has a sponsoring group in Finland. She played and sang familiar songs, seemed to be in progress.
|Mon 10.2.||At 7:30 with Kassem Aina to Baalbek. On the way we could visit UNRWA Baalbeck area office. Chief area officer, Mr Ahmad Ali Mouh, explained us the UNRWA services for the PRSs in the area. The PRSs live in small groups scattered over the Bekaa Valley. “They suffer in Syria, they begin to suffer in Lebanon after passing the border”, described Mr Mouh. Mr Mouh stressed the ordinary, regular educational services, not so much the supporting educational services.
In Baalbeck center, (Wavel camp), we could follow how the donation from Inanna ry was distributed to 66 Syrian and Palestinian families. They got voucher for 20 liters fuel for heating. We could visit one family, living with another family in two small rooms. Heater was only in one room. The mother was suffering from cancer and could not get treatment in Lebanon.
Remedial classes for PRS students are run by Ms Zeina Hassen (Arabic), Ms Izdihar Kayed (English) and Mr Mohamad al Haj (Mathematic). There are 45 children studying afternoons in the remedial classes.
Once a month the knitting club is having the workshop. It is a sister group for the Finnish Solidaarisuussilmukat, Solidarity Stitches. The 35 kg donation of knitwear sent by Solidaarisuussilmukat was delivered to Ms Aziza Shehade, the director of BAS Wavel center.
|Tue 11.2.||At 9:00 in the main office with Director Kassem Aina. We gave the first draft of answers to the questions of Mr Petri Hautaniemi. He wanted to learn about the projects before the visit 13-14.2.
We negotiated about the one-question survey for every FGC staff member as a baseline study for the efforts to develop the community based mental health model (CBMH) more comprehensively in the mental health program.
We proposed the idea of making a personnel training plan for FGC staff. There are several training ideas and options. When they are put in the form of training plan, it is easier to follow up the fulfillment of training needs.
We also presented the voluntary work offer of Ms Hellevi Bengs, theater and media director, “Visual theater workshop for young people, children and counselors” (possible to get in autumn 2014).
After that we were taken to Bourj el-Barajneh camp, where we visited two KG-classes, and met the mother of two sponsored children, Ahmad and Rawan, (FAFS), and made a home visit to the family of Isra´a, who has a Finnish sponsor through FAFS. The problems of children are multiple and rather severe, so that the definition of “child with multiple special needs” is more connected to the available services than to the real needs of the child. Many outside of the MSN-project are “children with multiple special needs”.
|Wed 12.2.||At 8:00 meeting with Eiko Minami and Yuka Heya CCP Japan for Education & Health. CCP is interested in financing partly also mental health program. CCP assists BAS in several activities.
At 9:30 meeting in FGC Beirut with Director Kassem Aina and Liliane Younes. We spoke about composing the personnel training plan 2014 for FGCs. There was discussion about whom BAS wants to invite to the conference in June. We decided that 20th March would the proposal for conference travel grants be ready, in order to have enough time to apply for the grant.
The local teams are not aware about the detailed project budget, and cannot plan their work without guidance. We therefore mentioned that the coordination persons are needed to monitor the budget and inform the teams about the possible activities.
We agreed that the survey results from FGC Saida will be presented in Arabic by Liliane or someone from FGC Saida. The slides (three) will be prepared in English. The survey is about parents’ feedback, data collected in October 2013 by the social workers in FGC Saida.
|Thu 13.2.||At 9:00 meeting with attaché, Mr Petri Hautaniemi from Foreign Ministry of Finland in the main office of BAS. There was discussion about mental health program, major challenges of the program, like security, sufficiency of the staff. Also the successes were discussed.
At 12:00 meeting with Ambassador, Mr Kari Kahiluoto in downtown Beirut. Discussion was about the political situation in Lebanon and the case of Syria. Ambassador expressed his opinion about the NGO assistance in Syria. There is a threat of kidnapping or death of NGO activists, if they enter Syria, and therefore it should be avoided.
At 2:00 short visit to the Embroidery Center with Mr Hautaniemi. After that visit to Shatila Center and visit to Jamile Shehade. The young relatives of her were interviewed; what message they would like to send to the Finnish audience? Palestine, studies, visit to Finland, were the themes.
|Fri 14.2.||At 7:30 to the South from Beirut. First visit was to Bourj el-Shemali center. The kindergarten classes for PRS children presented their activities, and the teachers met the Embassy and Ministry representatives. We also visited remedial classes of PRS children.
A meeting was organized with five mothers of the PRS children and two elderly men in the Elderly sponsorship project of FAFS. Also other staff from the center participated in the meeting.At 13:00 we met staff of FGC El-Buss and had lunch in the center.
Social worker Maha Hodrouj was interviewed. She had participated in the course of Health Alliance International (HAI) and told about the 5-level course “Mental Health Interventions in Emergencies”. Maha will with her colleague Suzan train staff of other NGOs about the course issues. Maha has also implemented “home station” model; one of the group of 15-16 women invites others and social workers join these thematic meetings.At 15:00 pm we all were invited to FGC Saida to follow the awareness raising session for parents of children with MSN. The session was opened by Director of the center and given by psychologist Mohammed Arrabi and the three social workers assisted. The session handled how the child with MSN goes to the external world and what kind of support he/she would need in the process growing in independence.
|Thanks||Warm thanks to Director Kassem Aina and the staff of BAS, Ambassador Kari Kahiluoto, Mr Petri Hautaniemi and Mr Juha Rainne for the informative days.
We want to thank also Dr Najla Bashour, Birgit Ghoussub, Sophie Rodin, Hellevi and Christer Bengs, Laura Moilanen.
During the visit we distributed the address of the e-book “Utters of Shutters”, 66 stories of the Palestinian children and elderly people.
Report prepared 21.2.2014 by Sirkku Kivistö, reviewed 24.2.2014 by Kirsti Palonen.