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Three success stories by Himaya, Lebanon

Success story : Tarek a young boy who was physically and sexually abused.

Meet Tarek, a seven-year-old boy who’s been physically abused at school and home by his mother. A local NGO concerned with Tarek’s behavior referred the case to himaya’s team.

Upon the call, himaya contacted the mother, who openly expressed her distress. She admitted that her son’s intolerable behavior at home and school is forcing her to revert to corporal punishment.

The family started attending psycho-social support sessions with himaya; after a couple of sessions with Tarek, they found out that his intolerable behavior and actions were a result of the sexual abuse he was subjected to by his older cousin who was also a minor.

himaya immediately raised the problem to the parents who explained they were aware of the situation and took action by sending their son to a psychologist. Unfortunately, the action taken was not a successful one. Tarek had started performing sexual acts with his smaller cousin.

Thankfully, the parents were very cooperative. The sessions with Tarek and his family continued, and they received the psycho-social support needed to overcome the trauma. A couple of sessions later, Tarek became more confident expressing what had happened and how he felt about the abuse.

After four months of continuous follow-ups, Tarek’s behavior changed drastically. He became calmer, more attentive, more responsive, and everyone around him was happily surprised with the result.

As for the legal actions, Tarek’s family dropped all charges and requested not to take any legal measures towards his older cousin. Today, the family is in a safe environment and learning how to understand their son’s behavior differently.

Success story : CA a young girl who was bullied and cyber bullied.

A few months ago, we received a call on our hotline from a mom seeking help for her 13 years old daughter C.A who was facing emotional abuse and rejection by from her friends and peers at school, which resulted in the development of impulsive behavior and getting into continuous conflict with her parents. After the call, our resilience team invited the family to our offices to have a talk with C.A and to have a better understanding of the situation. We then discovered that due to the repeated abuse at school, C.A had lost her sense of self-worth, showing signs of intense anxiety and exhaustion and frequently having nightmares at night. The team then set an intervention plan where psychosocial support sessions were held to work through C.A’s fear of self-expression, encourage her to speak up and communicate her emotions in a safe space she trusts and which makes her feel at ease. It was only four sessions later, that C.A was able to talk about her painful experience: C.A was being cyberbullied repeatedly. She explained that a few weeks ago, a stranger contacted her on Facebook and asked her to send him some pictures and videos of herself, naked, which she did. He then started asking her to go out with him and threatened to publish the pictures on Facebook and WhatsApp if she refuses to see him. Scared and confused, C.A asked us not to inform her parents about the development of the situation as she wasn’t ready to face them. With the trust and confidence, she had in the team as well as the empowerment process she had been working on throughout the psychosocial sessions, led her to understand that she needed to let go of the guilt which came with the abuse and come clean to her parents. In parallel, we worked on all legal procedures involved in the process to put an end to the harmful situation. Thanks to the cybercrime unit, the perpetrator was arrested, and he was no longer a threat to C.A, her family or other girls like C.A.

But our work was not done yet; psychosocial support sessions were still ongoing with C.A to help her rebuild her self-image, empower her to protect herself and to restore her parents’ trust in her. The continuous follow-up sessions and cooperation of the family allowed us to provide the following: - Legal orientation to the juvenile judge and the cybercrime unit. - Counseling for the parents on how to set limits and say “NO.” - Empowerment for the parents to express their feelings towards their daughter. - Encouragement for the parents to treat C.A as an adolescent girl and not as an independent young girl. Six months into the sessions, we were able to see noticeable improvements on the following levels: - C.A is more committed in the rules set by her parents. - The parents got better at setting rules with their daughter, and are now capable of showing affection with words and not gifts. - C.A expressed that she is now aware of how dangerous her behavior was and how she is now able to assess risks better and protect herself. Our work with C.A and her family is still ongoing, and we are confident that C.A and her parents are on the right track towards a healthy and trusting relationship.

Success story : A safe space for all

During an activity taking place at Zahle's Safe Park, himaya’s team noticed street children outside the park, looking and staring at the other kids who were playing inside but seemed afraid to enter.

On that evening, himaya received news that a group of children who've heard about himaya's Safe Parks were jumping over the fence after closing hours to enjoy their time in the park.

Unfortunately and without proper supervision, children were damaging the games and material that were present at the park.

himaya's team then decided to reach out to these children, and to invite them to attend the day activities with the rest of the kids.

The children were delighted to hear the news and showed a great deal of enthusiasm and interest to acquire new skills and learn about their rights during the sessions.

Despite their differences, all children directly became friends; they all played and learned together.

The children promised never to enter the park at night again, and that promise, was kept.

The project of Safe Park Zahle was initiated by International Social Service – Switzerland with the support of UNICEF Lebanon, funded by UK Aid and European Union; and wouldn’t be possible without the engagement and endorsement of municipalities and the local communities.

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