Beduin women in the Negev.
(photo credit: HADAS PARUSH)
With the home accident rate among Beduin children in the Negev seven times that of their Jewish counterparts, a group of organizations that have the funding and support of the US Embassy in Israel are jointly running a program promoting child safety among the population.
According to Beterem, about a quarter of all Israeli children who died last year as a result of unintentional injuries were Beduin. Among the causes of death were falling from a roof or being run over by cars backing up into young children, but fires, poisonings and other accidents were also involved.
The project results from a collaboration among Beterem – Safe Kids Israel, and the Arab-Jewish Center for Equality, Empowerment and Cooperation-Negev Institute for Strategies of Peace and Development (AJEEC-NISPED) active in the Beduin community and includes Beduin grandmothers from the village of Abu Queider, southeast of Beersheba.
AJEEC-NISPED, which works among the Beduin population in the south, recruited for the purpose of the project 15 grandmothers from the Abu Queider in the Neveh Midbar region. Beterem initiated the project and is responsible for the professional content.
The grandmothers get 16 hours of training in four meetings, plus 24 hours of mentorship and guidance from a counselor who joins the grandmothers and helps them individually. After each training session, the grandmothers go out into the community to transmit lessons in preventing child accidents. Following their activities, they attend a peer-learning session where they share their experiences, challenges and difficulties, and come up with solutions together.
The grandmothers receive professional tools developed specifically for this project by Beterem. Since some of them are illiterate, their tools for transmitting their messages are graphics-based. For example, a checklist for guiding families in making their home child-safe includes a picture of a kitchen with specific spots that might pose a hazard for children.
The activities in the community include three distinct programs – home visits, house meetings and guidance for new mothers. The grandmothers go into homes with a checklist that helps them identify problems that endanger children and explain to the parents how to create a safe home environment. They teach home safety, using pictures, to small groups of up to five mothers.
The program’s counselor personally visits each new mother and provides information about the safety of newborn babies, such as safe bathing, use of a safety seat in cars and preventing falls.
Mothers who participate in the project receive home safety kits that include a mechanism that prevents door slamming on children’s fingers, locks that prevent young children from opening cupboards and drawers and reaching dangerous substances such as cleaning materials, pesticides and medications.