War Trauma. The unique methods developed by Hope Flowers have evolved over 30 years, pushed by the pressure of need in a war-traumatised, occupied country. It is fuelled by the dedication of its staff and the imagination and brilliance of its founder and those who carry on his work.
How it started. The school started out as a kindergarten in the 1980s providing enlightened education to disadvantaged children.
It was soon discovered that not only the children but also the teachers were psychologically affected by conflict. The founder, Hussein Issa, himself a refugee, realised he needed to develop special techniques for transforming harm to advantage.
Counselling and special modalities were introduced to help children share their experiences and understand them. This was introduced into all parts of the curriculum, whether art and drama or gardening, science and languages.
Teachers were also given special care, to help them overcome burn-out and personal frustrations arising from the stress of living in a conflict, so that they could better avoid passing on tensions and problems to the children. No matter how well motivated, teachers were still under strain.
Parents. Then it was realised that it was no good helping kids if their trauma-based patterns were reinforced back at home. So parents were given counselling, discussion groups, parenting and community-building classes. Women were seen as a key area for attention.
Community. Then it became clear that the wider community plays an influence, so community-development groups were started where people could learn how to deal with social stress and complex issues and change their lives.
Key questions here were the development of independent thinking, compassionate listening, how to express one's feelings without causing damage, articulating oneself at meetings, learning how to handle difficult situations and manage conflict situations.
Peace education. This is peace-building and democracy in action - teaching for real-life survival and developing social skills. This is built into the curriculum and the daily operation of the school, without separate peace lessons. It concerns building up how children and families believe in themselves and learn relevant knowledge for the real-life situation they live in.