Protection of Children
Group 8 - Dana Barakat, Ayman Yassa, Xheni Shehu
Case Study: Design Activities For children

1. Your psychosocial team argues that you should work with community members to identify and secure venues for children’s activities. What kinds of venue are you looking for? Why?

When designing our activities and securing venues for our children’s activities we would be looking for places that can be considered “child friendly.” An appropriate ‘child friendly’ space should give the children a sense of safety structure, comfort and continuity. The space could be a school, community center, or even a tent or open space that is deemed “safe.” To assess which spaces are “safe” it would be important to discuss with a diverse group of children and community members . It would be important in a religiously diverse community to ensure that houses of worship that might exclude some groups not be used. Ideally this ‘safe’ venue would be used for playing, skills development and education in addition to “psycho-social” care (although all of these activities are part of psychosocial care for children.) The benefit of the multi functional space is to de-stigmatize mental illness or psycho-social care.

Per the World Vision handbook the site should be accessible to children and their communities. The should be near places where they gather and close to places where parents would be able to earn a living. The space should be safe from natural and man-made problems. The space should have shelter to protect from the elements as well as having latrines which depending on cultural considerations should be separated by gender. If no suitable space is available we will work with the community to put up a tent or build a structure.

2. In Designing Psychosocial activities, you are asked to be mindful about “Doing No Harm” to you participants. Why is this important? How is this principle related to being culturally sensitive? Give an Example

In the event of a crisis or disaster, the need for aid is clear. But it is the need for efficient and effective aid that is critical to the success of a humanitarian response. Unfortunately, there is a great deal of opportunity to cause more harm than good when untrained humanitarian workers design and execute psychosocial activities.

When Westerners or “outside helpers” arrive to help the affected population, referred to as “parachuting”, several problems occur that stifle any progress. One issue that surrounds parachuting relates to the lack of understanding and violations of the cultural values and local traditions. This behavior has the ability to discourage any receptiveness that the affected population may have with the outsiders and can very well create a barrier between them. In addition, unskilled, inexperienced and untrained volunteers will inevitably be inadequately prepared for proper intervention.

For example, an American psychologist, who traveled to the refugee camps for Kosovo survivors in Tirana, Albania, attempted to counsel women survivors of rape. She set up a tent to hold counseling sessions, which resulted in the identification of rape victims once they entered. In Kosovo traditions, families regard rape as a stain on family honor, which can only be rectified by killing the victim. As a result of the psychologist’s lack of knowledge about the culture, socio historic contexts and the situation, she may have jeopardized the lives of innocent people.

Another way parachuters may cause harm to the affected population by using culturally inappropriate methods could relate to the exposure of alcohol in a society that regards drinking as corrupt or immoral. This small act could result in a loss of respect for the humanitarian workers and volunteers. Parachuting can also cause security violations, expose people to vulnerabilities they may not have been exposed before, and raises expectations that could never be met.