Orphans Welfare Programme
Islamic Relief has launched its Orphan Welfare Program in Gaza Strip since 1998 and then in the West Bank in 2002; aiming at improving the lives of the needy orphans and their families in Palestine.
In 2010; the total number of sponsored orphans increased to about 7000 that the programme evolved over time in response to the emergencies especially after Gaza War that left numerous number of children fatherless. The programme, uniquely, delivered its services directly to its beneficiaries that ensure fairness, privacy and dignity. This bulk of orphans increased the programme income and consolidates moving its stream from relief to development assistance. Meanwhile; implementing of the separation plan between IR- Gaza and IR- West Bank offices resulted in bereaving more than 1.200 of the West Bank sponsored orphans and reduce the operational capacity of the programme.
Although Islamic Relief remains working away from any backdrop of significant trends and follows a balanced approach away from the political framework and more focus on the humanitarian intervention; the Orphans Welfare Programme was affected by the statement of the American government to suspend aid to Gaza; more than 1800 orphans sponsored by donors from USA have their sponsorship terminated accordingly. Currently, merely 3.700 orphans are sponsored and the programme is gravely concerned by the reduction of its staff members although the day-to-day home visits in addition to the direct delivery of services requires a large number of staff.
In light of this alarming situation; the programme has already taken steps by stopping registering the new orphans since more than 1.300 orphans are still in the sponsorship pool and cannot obtain donors so far. This, harmfully, impact the image of Islamic Relief as an important and impartial service-provider in the poor Gaza Strip.
Main Activities of the Programme
The main activity in the programme is distributing cash assistance quarterly for the orphans’ families. The sponsored orphans used to participate in various activities of the programme which are often implemented according to the available fund. Here is a brief list of some activities of the programme:
Providing cash grants to vulnerable families quarterly mitigates the impact of the traumatizing event in the life of orphaned families. Specifically; it aids them to meet the basic requirement of life after the sudden loss of their sole breadwinner and helps them to restore their normal life. Ceasing this important source of income will aggravate the suffering and hard living of those families and take them back to acute distress of financial and social insecurity.
The sponsored orphans in the programme undergo physical check-up; that includes a variety of tests and examinations depending on the age and sex and health of the person to identify any risk factor for chronic diseases, detect any health threats and promote healthy behaviors among the orphans. The programme pays full or partial cost of medications for some orphans; depending on the available fund.
Distribution of School Uniform and Bag
The education of the world’s children is high on the global agenda and our programme respects their rights in free and good quality education. The sponsored orphans in the programme used to receive school uniform and a bag equipped with stationary at the beginning of the scholastic year. This encourages those poor orphans to start their year daringly and happily which raise their spirits and improve their scholastic achievement accordingly.
Distribution of Eid Clothes
For years; the programme has provided orphaned children in the Gaza Strip with Eid clothes in a way to let them feel the delightful Eid and alleviate the burdens from their needy families. The targeted orphans were given coupons to buy their clothes and shoes by themselves according to their ages.
Psychological Support Activities
The programme implements different activities to enhance the mental and psychological well-being of the sponsored orphans who lost their fathers and pass through difficult psychological circumstances. In the summer camps; the children used to play and have fun and their mothers attend awareness sessions. Two journeys to Turkey were conducted where 40 orphans traveled in compliance with an invitation from the mayor of Tafashanli city. The group spent two weeks and they were involved in different entertaining activities and participated in several visits throughout the Turkish cities.
The programme has launched the “Women Empowerment” project in order to provide financial resources for 20 orphans’ mother to obtain a diploma degree. The project which lasts for two years will empower those women by building their capacities and integrating them in the community which will increase their self-reliance and employment status at the end of the project. The project reflects good progress and the students achieved great success in the first semester results.
Child Protection Policy
Since 2011; the Orphans Welfare Programme has developed a Child Protection Policythat is appropriate to the local culture and legal system. The programme is obliged to the commitment of this Policy and the acceptance of its Code of Conduct for working with children. Courses were held for the staff and IR-partners to describe policies, standards, guidelines and procedures to protect children from both intentional and unintentional abuse. We believe that any child under 18 should have the rights, confidence and environment in which they are safeguarded and can make their own choices.
Child Universal Day
Hundreds of the sponsored orphans have celebrated the Palestine Child Day with Islamic Relief in Gaza City under the motto “Safe Childhood, promising future”. Children enjoyed and joyfully reacted to the various recreational sections of the celebration which included competitions, plays, fun games, prizes and gifts. Such celebration helps children to develop their personal skills and makes them secure and independent as they grow: self-confidence, enthusiasm for learning.
Services by Other IR Departments
In cooperation with the other departments of Islamic Relief; the orphans used to take part in their various projects. More than 37 houses were rehabilitated that improves the living condition of the orphans’ houses and this is followed by awareness sessions to raise the hygienic levels of those families and improve their practices and behaviors.
Additionally; more than 33 of the orphans’ graduated siblings get temporary jobs through the job creation programme that produces some income for those crushed families and will help the graduates to find other jobs in the future through building their capacities and experience.
Recently; 300 orphans’ families were targeted by the Installation of Water Treatment Units that aimed at providing safe and fit water for drinking in the communities that receive bad quality water. This will provide reliable good quality drinking water which will absolutely impact upon the general health especially among the children.
Sorrowfully; being not sponsored in the Orphans Welfare Programme leads mass of orphans to remaining in the vicious cycle of poverty. Depriving orphans from the exceptional services of Islamic Relief will further denying their basic rights in protection, health care, education and leading a decent life.