As psychosocial team members of a humanitarian organization, we recognize there are direct and indirect ways to provide support for children. UNICEF's Core Commitments for Child Protection in Emergencies reflect this approach with Core Commitment #6: to provide psychosocial support for both children and their caregivers. We would therefore create activities to incorporate both children and their (in this case, female) caretakers.

For community children, we will organize a soccer related activity, incorporating game playing, team building and communication. Soccer is widely seen as a universal language and a forum to bring together people from different backgrounds, cultural, religions. It also is a good pathway to engage with children, providing an entry point to discuss other more sensitive issues such as HIV/AIDS, healthy relationships, etc. In unstructured environments, where children and families may be displaced or living as refugees, an organized soccer game gives kids a structured event and something to look forward to. Soccer teams create an environment in which kids can burn energy, release tensions and also support one another. This activity would include soccer games, as well as opportunities to discuss team communication issues, and team building. It also may provide the community with an activity, a way to keep busy in otherwise idle time that commonly fosters risky behaviors.

From a Do No Harm perspective, this activity would entail bringing children together into one space, so security precautions might be necessary to protect children. We would also need to be conscious of potential gender issues and the risk of unintentionally excluding or discriminating against girls.

In choosing a venue, the children’s physical safety needs to be the top priority. The space should be inspected for broken glass, any types of explosive devices, or other elements that may injure children. Additionally, the venue should be shielded enough so that if violence is still going on in nearby areas, children will not be placed at risk. However, it should not be so secluded that individuals looking to prey on children could trap them in the space.

For the caregivers, we will offer an opportunity for women to come together and make/build some sort of traditional community craft. Rather than organize structured, Western-style support groups, we recognize that women naturally socialize while performing other activities such as cooking, doing laundry, or gardening. By creating this program, we will offer women an opportunity to support one another in whatever way feels comfortable for them. The gatherings will be timed to coincide with the soccer games mentioned above so the women can relax knowing their children are supervised and safe (babies and young toddlers may need to come along to the gathering). Not only would this environment help women’s psychosocial wellbeing, it would also likely translate into a higher level of care they’ll provide for their children. Furthermore, the goods produced could potentially be sold as part of some sort of co-op, allowing for greater financial stability for the families and reduced stress for all. Issues to be considered under the Do No Harm principle are: 1) men might feel suspicious or excluded and not allow their wives to participate; 2) the women who are most in need may feel excluded for some reason (stigma related to sexual assault, for example); 3) women-generated income may cause a shift in gender roles within a household that could result in unforeseen negative consequences.