Aala El-Khani: What it's like to be a parent in a war zone
Aala El-Khani - Humanitarian psychologist
Aala El-Khani explores the needs of families affected by war and displacement and the mental health of children who have experienced armed conflict. Full bio
experience armed conflict.
to flee their country,
and vulnerable victims ...
the obvious physical dangers,
that wars have on their families.
leave children at a real high risk
of emotional and behavioral problems.
that children receive in their families
effect on their well-being
that they have been exposed to.
during and after conflict.
School of Psychological Sciences.
unfold in front of me on the TV.
in really horrifying ways.
and watch the TV.
and running that really got me the most,
typically inquisitive children.
asked lots and lots of questions,
what it might be like
in a war zone and a refugee camp.
happy eyes lose their shine?
nature become fearful and withdrawn?
with skills in caring for their children
on their well-being,
be useful for families
or refugee camps?
with advice or training
through these struggles?
to make some change in the real world.
what exactly I wanted to do.
and it means so much to you,
in these contexts."
myself and my colleagues --
on ways to support families
war and displacement.
that have been through conflict
to ask them what they're struggling with,
that are the most vulnerable,
we know exactly the right thing
without actually asking them first?
in Syria and in Turkey,
in silent crying and prayer.
harsh refugee camp conditions
on anything but practical chores
their children withdraw;
fear of loud noises,
what we had been watching on the TV.
were now widows of war,
if their husbands were dead or alive --
they were coping so badly.
and they had no idea how to help them.
their children's questions.
and so motivational
so motivated to support their children.
at seeking support from NGO workers,
in a camp for four days,
for her eight-year-old daughter
are almost always useless.
for basic parenting supports.
are just like them --
who's struggling with new needs.
much bigger than they could cope with.
to reach families on an individual level.
at a population level
information leaflets via bread wrappers --
to families in a conflict zone in Syria
at all in their appearance,
of two pieces of paper.
that had basic advice and information
what they might be experiencing,
might be experiencing.
support themselves and their children,
time talking to your child,
was a feedback questionnaire,
of delivering psychological first aid
secure, loving parenting?
3,000 of these in just one week.
we had a 60 percent response rate.
researchers we have here today,
rate is fantastic.
would be a huge achievement,
these kinds of messages were to families.
for the return of the questionnaires.
hundreds of messages --
about us and our children."
the potential means
first aid to families,
using other means
or female hygiene kits,
on every single one of us.
of statistics and of photos,
had reached Europe.
our children's schools.
to meet the needs of European refugees,
uploaded it onto their website,
and other parents
psychological first-aid messages.
hard floor of a refugee camp tent
as I was conducting a focus group.
a 13-year-old girl lying beside her,
throughout the focus group,
curled up against her chest.
the mothers for their time,
while pointing at the young girl,
confused and unengaged,
for the Arabic female name, Hala,
to refer to really young girls.
Hala was probably much older than 13.
mother to three young children.
bright, bubbly, loving, caring mother
being dropped in her town;
were flying around their building,
terrified from the noise.
and cover her children's ears
in some kind of safety,
to acting like her old childhood self.
with a really tough ending,
armed conflict and displacement
a devastating time in your life,
or something you really care about,
to care for yourself and for your family?
of a child's life are crucial
and emotional development,
are experiencing armed conflict --
joining our communities --
who are experiencing war and displacement.
these families' needs --
and those who are refugees worldwide.
by NGO workers, policy makers,
and every single one of us
that we function in our society.
the individual faces of the conflict,
those intricate emotions on their faces,
the needs of these families,
in humanitarian settings
role of the family in supporting children.
will be shouting loud and clear
to enter social service systems
would have had support earlier on.
who are joining our communities.
can dream of planes dropping gifts,
raging throughout the world,
and caregiver support,
between war and psychological difficulties
About the speaker:Aala El-Khani - Humanitarian psychologist
Aala El-Khani explores the needs of families affected by war and displacement and the mental health of children who have experienced armed conflict.
Why you should listen
Dr. Aala El-Khani develops and researches innovative ways to reach families that have experienced conflict with parenting support and training. She has conducted prize-winning field research with refugee families and families in conflict zones, exploring their parenting challenges and the positive impact parenting support can provide. Her work has significantly contributed to an agenda of producing materials which together form psychological first aid for families affected by conflict and displacement.
El-Khani s a humanitarian psychologist, and she works as a consultant for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime as well as a Research Associate at the University of Manchester at the Division of Psychology and Mental Health. Her current work collaborates the efforts of the UNODC and the University of Manchester in developing and evaluating family skills programs in countries such as Afghanistan, Palestine, Syria and Lebanon.
El-Khani is passionate about highlighting the significant role that caregivers play in protecting their children during conflict and displacement. She has trained NGO workers, school teachers and affected families internationally on family skills and research methods.
Aala El-Khani | Speaker | TED.com