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Children of Gaza
IbraheemAmalObertOmsyatte
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In January 2009 over 1300 Palestinians were killed in Gaza. Around 300 of them children.  When the ceasefire was declared, BAFTA winning film-maker Jezza Neumann arrived to follow the lives of 4 children over the course of a year.  Through their eyes, and in their words, Children of Gaza gives us a unique insight into the impact of war on vulnerable young minds.

Despite the horrors they witnessed, Amal, Mahmoud, Louay, and Ibraheem 11 still have hope and humour whilst living in the ruins of the Gaza Strip.  Increasingly isolated by a blockade that prevents anyone from rebuilding their homes and their lives, Children of Gaza is a shocking, touching and uniquely intimate reflection on extraordinary courage in the face of great adversity.

War Child UPDATE OCTOBER 2010

amal13.JPG mahmoud10.JPG mahmoud5.JPG ibr2.JPG   bath3.JPG
     Amal  Mahmood & Amal Mahmood Ibraheem   We will be rebuilding Mahmood & Amal's bathroom  

Our colleague in Gaza, Khalid, has been visiting the children regularly and has sent us the following update.

Amal & Mahmood

Amal and Mahmood and their family are still living in their makeshift breeze block house, and we are currently trying to organize the building of their own washroom and toilet. Amal is still experiencing pain in her head, and we are working with local agencies to ensure she continues getting the medical help she needs. Mahmood has recently moved to a new school that is closer to the family home.

Ibraheem

Ibraheem is still going to his school, and on Thursday nights and Fridays he continues to help out at the fishing port.

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CBA WorldView provides seed funding for media content relating to the developing world for consumption by UK audiences. The scheme has a strong reputation in the UK’s media industry, is editorially independent and is currently funded by UK Aid from the Department for International Development.  Since 2001 WorldView has supported more than 300 UK broadcast programmes and packages including many feature documentaries including the Emmy award winning English Surgeon and documentaries including Afghan Star, Moving to Mars, Sons of Cuba, When China met Africa, The Trouble With Pirates, War Child, Sounds of Mumbai: a Musical  and many more.

War Child: helping the children of Gaza overcome the trauma of conflict

By Mike Pope

Gaza is not like it is depicted in the mainstream media, its people are not doomed and it can achieve peace with Israel according to Jezza Neumann, director of War Child.

"Gaza is an incredibly hospitable place, the friendliest people I've ever met; it's not dangerous in terms of your daily existence."

Along with fellow director Jayyab Abusafia, Neumann discussed filming the documentary, his thoughts for the future of Gaza's children and their state of mind during a Q and A session with Krishnan Guru-Murthy of Channel 4 News after the screening.

"Given the opportunities they will be like any other child, given the opportunities they will have peace with Israel."

Having spent 53 days in Gaza filming, Neumann and his crew formed close bonds with the children and their families. 

"The trust was ultimately shown through the scene with Mahmoud and his uncle showing him his Kalashnikov, very intimate scene. Because our film was about the kids and their lives, we could keep a very low profile, we didn't need to get involved with the authorities, we didn't need to tread on any toes."

Neumann has since kept in contact with the children but says their situation has not changed. 

Although his films have been very popular, it has been difficult to raise large amounts of money for their families because "the Palestinian Diaspora in the UK isn't the wealthiest" he said.

The most important issue yet to be addressed in Gaza is the mental health of its children, said Neumann:

"It's one of the biggest worries in Gaza at the minute; what has this mental trauma done to the children? There isn't a child who was not touched in this war."

Abusafia explained that what may seem like violent behaviour for children to outsiders is just kids having fun in Gaza - their games reflect the world they live in.

"It's the life that any Palestinian could live. Do they have fun playing these games? Yes they do. This is the only way they can take the anger out from inside."

According to Neumann nothing will change until the blockade around Gaza is lifted:

"Whilst they are kept encaged around male mentors who seek a violent answer they are more than likely to become fighters."

The directors do however have a "glimmer of hope" for Gaza's children. Through the story of Ibrahim and Mahmoud, two boys who could be "good or bad", Neumann has tried to show what the future of Gaza could hold.

"They are very much in the prime age, they can very much get influenced left or to the right."