By:  Naba’a – Development Action without Borders

A young girl returns to her village after fleeing the Israeli bombing. Her story is one of trauma and recovery.

Nibal Salman is 12 years old and comes from Shabriha [approximately 4 km north of Tyre]. She returned to her home after regaining the self-confidence and inner calmness necessary, hugging a handmade toy that she herself had made. She had new shoes after having arrived barefoot in Sidon two months ago, at the very beginning of the Israeli aggression against Lebanon. Nibal says, ‘The Israeli bombing hit Shabriha and many houses were destroyed. I fled with my mother, brothers and sisters on foot northwards. We spent two days on the way before reaching Sidon. On the way, we felt as though the jets were chasing us while bombing all the way at the back and in front of us.’ Nibal becomes silent for a moment and looks away. As her eyes narrow, she continues, ‘We encountered so much destruction on the way. I felt shocked when I saw the dead and wounded people. It was the first time that I saw dead people due to bombing. I used to turn my face away and avoid staring every time we passed dead people, while my mother took care of my younger brothers and sisters. We used to eat what people gave us along they way – bread and canned food.’

Nibal’s clothing were worn out and her feet were bare when she arrived in Sidon, where she and her family were welcomed by the sheltering centre’s manager who took care of them.

One of the centers supervisors, Ayda Qaddoura, recounts, ‘Nibal was in a state of shock. She used to sit alone and avoided mixing or speaking with her peers. She refused to participate in any activity. We tried to communicate with her, approach her, but she refused to respond. We asked her to join the other children in drawing and singing activities, but again, she refused. Finally, there was a breakthrough when we asked her to participate with the children in a handcraft workshop. She accepted instantly and with enthusiasm. She even entered the competition with one of the kids, in an attempt to finish the largest section of the piece. After that, Nibal gradually started going back to normal behaviour, talked to her peers and generally tried to be the best in the group. Nibal now returns to Shabriha having regained a more normal state. She is psychologically relaxed and proud of the handmade toys she put together. At the same time, however, she is worried about the future. She does not know what might happen to her after all this killing and destruction. But she is more confident now in her abilities to face the consequences of what might happen.

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