AMA commences building Basamat Centre

AFRICA MUSLIMS AGENCY STARTS BUILDING PSYCHOSOCIAL CENTRE FOR SYRIAN AND PALESTINIAN REFUGEE CHILDREN

  • Africa Muslims Agency sends 10 women to Lebanon to assess needs of refugees
  • R3 million raised to build Basamat Psychosocial Support Centre in Lebanon
  • 400 refugee children receive full sponsorships for entire year of advanced therapy

Cape Town/Akkar – Africa Muslims Agency (AMA) has commenced building the Basamat psychosocial support (PSS) centre in North Lebanon in a region called Akkar. Basamat means ‘smile’ and is a centre that will provide regular, professional and globally-recognised PSS to Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese children along with their guardians. Thousands of children have been traumatised by the violence, conflict and loss they have experienced and the Basamat programme, for which 400 children have received full annual sponsorships, will help them overcome their trauma from January 2020 with the support of AMA’s implementing partner, URDA.

According to the Official Journal of the American Academy of Paediatrics “disasters have the potential to cause short- and long-term effects on the psychological functioning, emotional adjustment, health, and developmental trajectory of children, which even may have implications for their health and psychological functioning in adulthood; children, as a group, are among those most at risk for psychological trauma and behavioral difficulties after a disaster” (Schonfeld & Demaria, 2015).

War is a man-made disaster and first-hand experience of the impact of war on children was witnessed during Mission Basamat – a field mission to the refugee camps in Lebanon – by a delegation of women representing Africa Muslims Agency. In October 2019, ten women visited various refugee camps throughout Lebanon and discovered that most children that had escaped war had witnessed horrendous violence such as their family members being killed, their mothers being raped and their homes being bombed.

These unspeakable acts of violence become etched in the brains of children and cause mental, emotional and psychological distress. The trauma of these children has manifested itself in different ways, including: nightmares, social isolation, academic impairment, depression, anger, and anxiety among other things. This trauma, as well as the physical and sexual abuse that many children have suffered, can result in a lifelong battle with severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and points to an urgent need for treatment for these children.

The Basamat PSS programme incorporates trauma counselling; communication exercises; art therapy; psychological needs assessments; as well as cognitive behavioural therapy to challenge harmful thought/behavioural patterns and to reconstruct concepts of violence; among countless other methods to ensure innovative and holistic healing. There has been a remarkable change in the children that have received PSS thus far which is seen in their confidence, positivity, social interactions as well as their academics. The Basamat programme is therefore about healing individuals, developing their potential and motivating them towards a great future, while simultaneously being a foundation for education.

After a 3-month campaign of fundraising and feedback, Africa Muslims Agency has raised R3 million through the generosity of South African and international donors so that 400 children will be funded for an entire year of PSS in 2020. This programme is monitored and the next mission to Lebanon in March 2020 will track and assess the progress of the children.

Africa Muslims Agency, also known as Direct Aid International, is a non-profit humanitarian organisation that institutionalised relief work in 1987 throughout Africa, and beyond. Its mission is to empower individuals, inspire leadership and develop communities through building schools, building water wells, disaster relief management, feeding and clothing schemes, sponsoring education and mentorship programmes for youth, and much more. Its vision is to continue on this trajectory and inspire the spirit of giving.

For more information, please contact Khadija Abass at capetown@africamuslimsagency.co.za