‘Mubadara’ – A Psychological Support Initiative for Gaza Genocide Victims

‘Mubadara’ is a psychological support initiative born out of the womb of the ongoing genocide in Gaza. (Photo: supplied)

By Samaa Abu Sharar

‘Mubadara’ is a psychological support initiative born out of the womb of the ongoing genocide in Gaza. As tens of initiatives that saw the light due to the unbearable reality in Gaza, ‘Mubadara’, was founded a few months ago by a group of Palestinian and Arab activists.

The initial idea started on a ‘WhatsApp’ group of friends and acquaintances created to explore ways to help the people of Gaza. One of the pressing needs was psychological support for families of people in Gaza who live abroad and lost tens of relatives and friends during the genocide. 

The growing demand was an encouraging factor to establish an initiative solely for psychological support to connect patients with therapists online and at no charge. A legal umbrella for the initiative was provided by ‘The International Commission to Support Palestinians’ Rights’ (Hashd), a non-governmental organization based in Gaza with long experience in psychosocial work amongst other things. 

Lawyer Salah Abd Al-Atti, President of ‘Hashd’, told the ‘Palestine Chronicle’ that his NGO was happy to provide the legal umbrella knowing the dire need for such a service in view of the destruction of the hospitals and absence of counseling and psychological services. 

“In light of the catastrophic pressure to which people are exposed whether inside or outside of Gaza, psychological support is essential for the mental health of all those involved,” he said. According to the lawyer, the atrocities committed by the Israeli occupation army have brought so many intense emotions, those of intimidation, fear, terror, loss and lack of basic human needs resulting in devastating consequences on the mental health of people. 

“The initiative was able to make mile achievements in a record time by connecting patients with Palestinian and Arab therapists who volunteer to help people start the long journey of healing from their psychological scars,” Abd Al-Atti concluded. 

The mental health of Palestinians has always been an issue long before the ongoing genocide due to Israel’s repeated wars and daily aggressions in Gaza and the West Bank. A study conducted by the ‘World Bank’ in November 2022 found that more than half of the adult Palestinian population screened positive for depression, including 71% of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and 58% in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. 

According to Psychotherapist and co-founder of ‘Mubadara’, Rodiana Hammadi, living through a genocide imposes severe psychological impacts on individuals where survivors often grapple with profound grief from the loss of loved ones coupled with survivor guilt. “The continuous exposure to violence, fear, and dehumanization can result in deep and long-term psychological scars such as mistrust, emotional numbness, and many other symptoms, which could impair the quality of one’s life,” she explained. 

Hammadi confirmed nonetheless that self-psychological resilience could help individuals cope with traumatic events by enabling them to draw on their inner strengths and adaptive coping mechanisms. “By harnessing hope, determination, and the ability to find meaning in one’s experiences, some could navigate the aftermath of trauma, while others can struggle to cope, and experience difficult symptoms,” she added. To this end, the psychotherapist believes ‘Mubadara’ can help provide the necessary psychological support to cater to the needs of each patient. 

‘Mubadara’ embraces a number of Arab and Palestinian therapists volunteering to help patients start their healing journey. Co-founder Dalia Abu Sharar assured that any information received by ‘Mubadara’ is confidential and will be handled in the utmost care at every stage of this journey. “You can fill out the application through the link in the bio of our social media page, and if you can’t find it, you can send us a private message and we will send you the link,” Abu Sharar said.

According to her, once the application is received, a specialist will assess the comments and assign the right therapist to each patient’s individual needs before being contacted with all the details about his/her session. 

Since its inception, ‘Mubadara’ sought to attract male and female therapists of different specialties, particularly those dealing with shock to handle the numerous trauma cases in Gaza and outside. The demand for female therapists is increasing thus ‘Mubadara’ encourages those who can spare time and effort to join forces with the initiative by simply filling out a form on its social media page. Co-founder Alia Khalaf told the ‘Palestine Chronicle’ that the importance of the initiative is that it provides several options to support Palestinians inside and outside of Gaza through a network of volunteer psychiatrists or psychotherapists of different specialties, including those who exclusively work with children or adults. 

Khalaf believes that ‘Mubadara’ spares those in need of psychological support the hassle of searching for a competent doctor/therapist, “all they need to do is contact us and we will provide them with the needed assistance by hooking them up with the right therapist whether online or in person,” she said. 

The financial restrain that hinders many from seeking psychological help is not an issue, since ‘Mubadara’s’ services from A to Z are free of charge and depend, in core, on volunteer work by those who handle the logistics of the initiative to the therapists who take care of any Palestinian in need of this service. 

(The Palestine Chronicle)

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