Occupied Palestinian Territories
We started working in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt), in 2009 to support older people affected by the December 2008-January 2009 conflict. During the conflict, more than 1,300 people were killed, 3,500 injured and 100,000 displaced. Healthcare facilities, infrastructure and farmland were damaged and essential services were disrupted.
Immediately after, we distributed food to older people and gave them psychosocial support to cope with the trauma. We also helped older people to restore their livelihoods and earn an income. For example, we worked with local partners to remove rubble from farmland so that 80 older farmers were able to plant crops again.
Life story: Hadija, 82
Hadija is 82 and lives in a refugee camp in Gaza city. She is originally from Ashkelon, which is now in Israel.
Hadija is a widow and has four daughters and 32 grandchildren. Hadija wouldn’t leave the house. HelpAge and our Affiliate El Wedad has been helping her to overcome this problem with counselling sessions every week and Hadija is now joining in with group trips.
Hadija says: “I’ve been on five trips with HelpAge and El Wedad. I have really good friends now. The trips are such fun, I feel active. We dance and sing! Now I visit my neighbours and they visit me. They help me clean my house and take me to visit my family. I didn’t go out before because I had been alone for so long.
"I didn’t have any money to take presents to people [tradition in the Middle East], but now I have made friends because of the trips. A lot of people I met on the trips I knew when I was young, but I hadn’t seen them for years. I feel like I am rebuilding my relationships and connections with friends.”
Supporting older people in the occupied Palestinian territories
In the last year, we have helped older people in several different areas:
- Working with our local partner, the Palestinian Centre for Communication and Development Strategies (PCCDS) and Affiliate El Wedad, we established two centres for older people, one in Hebron in the West Bank and the other in Gaza city. The centres are a place where older people can come to socialise, find out about healthcare, rights and take part in activities. In 2012, 1,184 older people regularly took part in activities at the social centres.
- Since 2009 we have enabled 3,000 older people to get access to new financial services. In 2012, 250 older people benefited from EU-funded livelihood initiatives such as chicken and rabbit breeding or beekeeping.
- We have helped 107 older people by providing them with clothing and household goods.
- With our Affiliate El Wedad, we have improved over 2,000 older people’s access
to quality health and psychosocial care through community-based rehabilitation
physiotherapy sessions are being conducted for 222 people and over 300 people have been
provided with mobility aids, such as walkers and wheelchairs, air mattresses, hearing aids
and incontinence pads.
- We have provided primary healthcare education to 800 older people and eye care to 183 older people.
- We have trained volunteer home-based carers who are
now providing regular quality home-based care to 2,000 vulnerable older people.
- We have organised counselling and recreational trips to help older people recover from conflict and 1,200 older people are receiving home-based psychosocial support and counselling.
Advocacy rights and entitlements
- We trained 141 government and non-government
staff in the needs of older people, their rights and specific healthcare needs.
- To establish intergenerational linkages, we worked with schools and community groups and educated over 6,000 students and
teachers in the needs and rights of older people.
- On 1 October 2011, International Day of Older Persons, a thousand older Palestinians took part in the Age Demands Action campaign. As a result, the Ministry of Health committed to investing in making healthcare orientated towards older people.
- We will build the capacity of existing
community groups and older spokespeople who are promoting the rights of older people.
- We will continue to help poor older people
to increase their financial security by offering
employment, skills training and funding.
- We will continue the training of health
workers, family care givers and community
volunteers in homecare approaches and
healthcare for older people.
- We will work with UN agencies, government bodies, national and international NGOs and older people themselves in order to ensure that the needs of older people are met and their valuable contribution to society is recognised.