Making funny faces in Gaza

Imagine you’re 10 years old and live in the occupied territories of Palestine. There are no playgrounds in the neighborhood and the danger of violence is very real, and often experienced daily. That’s not a good place to play, be a kid, or make funny faces.
That’s the reason Right to Play and War Child are in Palestine– to give children a chance to play. ‘Making funny faces isn’t just fun, it’s a way for kids to learn about their emotions,’ explains Reham Owda. Owda is the project leader for Youth Heroes in Gaza, which offers kids the opportunity to play and act their age. ‘Many children here are traumatized and are often scared. Through play and relaxation we teach the kids how to deal with that. Making funny faces is part of that learning.’
In the Netherlands these organizations have placed two photo booths in the country to challenge Dutch kids to participate. At those booths kids were able to enter the ‘funny faces contest’ along with children in Palestine. The rules were simple: make facial expressions showing four different emotions. You can still play the game on their Dutch website:
The project Youth Heroes trains young coaches in the community. The trained youth coaches then lead programs with the kids in their neighborhood. Youth Heroes was started in 2013 and has already trained forty youth coaches. The goal is to have three hundred youth coaches by 2016, which includes new trainers for the youth coaches so the project can continue.
Photo: Mona van den Berg

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