UNRWA Community Mental Health Programme provides training on supporting children with disabilities

19 July 2016
CMHP trainees during a discussion about how to combat stereotypes about children with disabilities. © 2016 UNRWA Photo by Tamer Hamam

To build staff capacity and skills, the UNRWA Community Mental Health Programme (CMHP) organized a training of trainers (TOT) on the Supporting Children with Disabilities manual for 30 mental health supervisors and assistant supervisors.

The TOT was held from 11 to 14 July 2016 at Adam Hotel, Gaza where Dr Laila Atshan, an international expert, provided the training focusing on how to offer specialized counselling for people with disabilities and covering a variety of topics related to mental health and supporting children with disabilities, including team building, self-care in addition to inclusion, family dynamics and stereotypes. 

The main goal was to train the CMHP supervisors and assistant supervisors on how to implement the manual, which is aimed at building the resilience of children with disabilities and advocating an inclusive environment. The manual was developed to support Palestinian counsellors and others engaging with children with disabilities especially in a challenging context like Gaza. It provides key guidelines and best practices for engaging with children with disabilities, including those born with disabilities and those who become disabled as a result of the repeated cycles of armed conflict. This training was held as part of the “Strengthening children’s psychosocial resilience in the Gaza Strip - Summer 2014 hostilities”, a project funded by Islamic Relief USA.

“I gained more insight about how to work with children with disabilities not only on the personal level, but also on the professional level. This is the first training of its kind. It is very practical and it enables caregivers to help children with disabilities handle the adverse consequences of the physical and mental health related aspect of disabilities,” said Khaled Naser, a Mental Health Supervisor. 

The four-day training is designed to equip the CMHP supervisors and assistant supervisors with basic concepts and practical skills on how to support children with disabilities, reinforce the concept of inclusion, and encourage building a safe equitable school environment to empower children with disabilities to compete equally, flourish and succeed in a supportive culture. 

Reem Ghanam, Assistant Mental Health Supervisor in the Middle Area, commented, “This training is very unique; it applies the theoretical information in drills and exercises which enhanced my expertise in working with children with disabilities, especially since they are marginalized in our society and they need special care.”    

Further to the four-day training course, CMHP will hold a second phase of the training targeting the UNRWA school counsellors in order to enhance their capacities to support children with disabilities, and their parents and families. The goal is also to empower them to create an inclusive school environment.

Background Information

UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA programme budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agency’s programme budget. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals.

UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5.4 million Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA across its five fields of operation. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance. 

For more information, please contact:

Sami Mshasha
Director of Communications, Arabic Language Spokesperson
+972 (0)54 216 8295
+972 (0)258 90724
UNRWA launched the #DignityIsPriceless campaign in Gaza on 22 January 2018. © 2018 UNRWA Photo Rushdi Al Saraj
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