26 November 2014
Holding a sketchbook in one hand and a piece of shrapnel in the other, 15-year-old Lama described the night that her home in Gaza was bombed during the Israeli offensive earlier this year.
‘We'd gathered in one room - the nine of us. My father was looking at us, so afraid. He wanted to try to save us, but he didn’t know what to do. So he was hiding us under the bed.
'I can’t remember anything else other than that our home was destroyed above us.
‘I tried to get out from under the wreckage, but I couldn’t. My father had to clear the rubble from above our heads.’
Lama is one of an estimated 373,000 children trying to come to terms with what they experienced during the conflict.
She has found solace in art and spends every day at one of our partner CFTA’s (Culture and Free Thought Association) centres in Khan Younis.
It's a place for women, children and young people to meet and talk about what they've been through. They can also have counselling and take part in therapeutic activities there.
For children like Lama, CFTA’s centres are a sanctuary where they can express, through art and drama, how they feel.
‘When I draw, something in my heart lets go. It eases my suffering.'
‘I feel like I can take a lot of things that are stored in my heart and reflect them in my drawings,’ Lama says. ‘It helps me to feel okay when I do this. Drawing eases my suffering.
‘CFTA has really helped me by giving me pencils and paints. I feel that when I draw, something in my heart lets go.
'It was one week after the war that I went back there and I go every day after school, except Fridays and Saturdays. I love to be at the centre more than my home.’
How you can help
Staff and volunteers at CFTA risked their lives to deliver mattresses, blankets, cooking stoves and food to families who had been made homeless during the conflict.
At that time CFTA also began providing psychosocial support to families suffering from the effects of shock and the scenes of destruction and violence that they had witnessed.
The devastation caused during 50 days of relentless violence is unprecedented.