On Sunday 16 May 2021, an air raid demolished a building adjacent to YMCA Gaza’s facilities, causing extensive and direct damage to the building and to the entire surrounding area.
A month later, World YMCA launched an emergency appeal to support our colleagues in the Gaza Strip to restore their premises, to restart their programmes and to continue serving their communities. Here is an update on the situation.
Mental and physical wellbeing
YMCA Gaza is organising activities around mental and physical health. “It is very important to care for the mental health and well-being of people of all ages”, shares Hani A. Farah, YMCA Gaza General Secretary. “The arts workshops and the library are among the priority areas for repair, in order to restart our psychosocial activities.”
After the ceasefire came into effect on 21 May, YMCA Gaza could restart its basketball, football and tennis training, but some of the sports fields still need repair.
Healing through art
On 29 May, YMCA Gaza held an open-door art exhibition: 35 artists from Gaza shared the work they produced during and after the bombings.
On 1 June, an entertainment day for children allowed kids to express their fears through painting and drawing. YMCA Gaza also strengthened the children’s self-confidence and their sense of community with games and climbing activities. A mural was made with their handprints, where the colours red and black were not used, so to avoid any trace of blood and destruction.
YMCA Gaza serves 1800 young people
“I was very happy with the end of the assault on the Gaza Strip. I hope that the attack will not be renewed, and also that the siege ends and we can travel and return to normal life.” Julia Shuhaiber, 15
“I thought we were in a safe place, but there were many targets close to my house. Now I am happy that I can meet my friends again. I hope that there are many entertainment programmes to help us overcome these difficult times that we have been through.” Natalie Franjieh, 16
“When the bombings ended, I was glad that I and my family had not been hurt. I hope that my country Palestine will be liberated and that there will be a peace and justice.” Issa Al-Sayegh, 16