You won't need us to tell you that 2015 has been a tough year for the people of the Middle East. From Gaza, to Jerusalem, to Lebanon, the organisations that we support have often been caught at the centre of the violence we've seen on TV. Despite this, they have shown a level of courage and resilience that has made us prouder than ever to be championing them in the UK. As they continue to give hope to some of the most marginalised people in the region, we'd like to provide you with some highlights of what they - and we - have been up to this year.
Syrian Refugee Appeal
In September, we launched an appeal on behalf of the Lebanese Society for Educational and Social Development (LSESD). Your response was outstanding, and we raised over £5,000! Thank you again to all who donated.
LSESD are providing welfare to some of the most hard-to-reach refugees in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, which they distribute through their network of churches. They are also getting Syrian refugee children into schools. You can see a few of these children below, getting to know one another at the True Vine school, which also employs Syrian schoolteachers who teach the Syrian curriculum.
With tens of thousands of Syrian children not yet in school in Lebanon, there's lots still to do. We therefore hope that our appeal marks the beginning of a fruitful, ongoing partnership between us and LSESD, as they continue to address such needs. Nabil Costa is the Director of LSESD, and he wrote these thoughtful words about the refugee crisis back in September.
The Gaza Community Mental Health Programme
It is well over a year now since the Gaza War of 2014, in which almost 2,200 people were killed, 11,000 were injured, and 300,000 were displaced. Far exceeding these numbers, however, are those continuing to suffer emotionally and psychologically, not just due to military violence, but also due to Gaza's ongoing isolation at the hands of Israel and Egypt. Through counselling, psychosocial intervention, and human rights advocacy, GCMHP are seeking to alleviate these conditions, and to generate more of Gaza's most precious commodity: hope. The circumstances under which they do this are explaind with brutal simplicity in this article by GCMHP's Director, Dr. Yasser Abu Jamei In support of Yasser and his team, we turned our hand to animation this year, and made this short animation to explain more:
The Princess Basma Centre for Disabled Children, East Jerusalem
The Princess Basma Centre celebrated its 50th anniversary this year! Amidst escalating violence in Jerusalem and the West Bank - as Israel's military occupation nears the same anniversary - they have been renovating their rehabilitation department, continuing their groundbreaking work in the field of autism, and beginning a new specialism in music therapy. Here's another short animation we made which explains how and why the centre operates:
With the recent intensification of fighting in the Middle East region showing little sign of abating, we hope and pray that whatever 2016 brings, greater opportunity for peace and justice will follow. Our partners are bastions of both these things, and so our support for them is vital. You can follow them more closely on our Facebook page, Twitter feed and revamped website.
Wishing you health and happiness in 2016
Alex, Gareth, Issy, Jake and Joel
The Trustees, JustAct Middle East