Volunteering Endeavors – Student Reflection

The NAMAL Project with ICTP

Written by Kirstie Nel, international student in the Art Therapy Master’s program at the University of Haifa International School, Class of 2015-2016. 

Photo Nov 17 4 18 40 PM
Israeli and International Art Therapy students

As part of my volunteering obligations, for a scholarship I received from the University of Haifa, I was asked to raise funds for any of the projects run by Israel Center for the Treatment of Psychotrauma (ICTP). The fundraising project, although a daunting task, is an ideal investment of my time and energy, as I get to know and get involved with a non-profit organisation as well as gain valuable experience, personally and professionally. With the involvement and support of Elisheva Ackerson my MA Art Therapy program coordinator, we hope to create meaningful engagement with the project and assist it by having a successful fundraising event or events.

As I searched the ICTP website, I stumbled across a project named CHERISH (Child Rehabilitation Initiative for Safety and Hope). What drew me to the CHERISH program was that it was looking at both sides of the conflict and the effects thereof on both Israeli and Palestinian adolescents. I connected strongly with the ideals CHERISH stood for, providing mental health-care for all, unconcerned of the status or differences and especially helping those in need. I thought it a beautiful ideal that an Israeli organization showed an un-discriminatory approach to health care services even though there is still ongoing tension between Israelis and Palestinians.

Being from South Africa (a country known for its diversity and often referred to as the ‘rainbow nation’) I was also interested in the way mental health care interventions and tools where geared to address different cultures/populations. I wanted to learn how much sensitivity is used and how much change in interventions or tools are implemented if at all when applied to different populations as well as minorities.

Unfortunately the CHERISH project is in hiatus due to bureaucratic disagreement. Dr Ruthy Pat-Horenzyck (whom was also part of the CHERISH project) presented the NAMAL project as a viable alternative that has a multi-cultural and interreligious approach. The NAMAL project provides mental health care services to parents and children. It focuses on small communities, around the Gaza border, that do not have access to mental health services. These services are catered to a variety of populations and are interreligious. Unfortunately these services are for the moment not extended to Palestinian Territories as the Hamas administration in control of Gaza will not give any cooperation.

The NAMAL project provides a cross-cultural approach, thus I would still be able to learn a lot from this project about cultural sensitivity.  The next step for me is to get to know the project better so that I can get first-hand experience of the project’s needs and workings. I do not want to stay an external figure organising random fundraising events. I want to get involved and get to know the project. By getting involved I believe that a more meaningful fundraising project can arise from it as one comes to understand the project and its need personally. I look forward to meeting everyone involved with the NAMAL project! EXCITED AND EAGER!!!!

If anyone is interested in getting involved please email me at: kirstienel@yahoo.com

The blog posts will keep you updated on the project as it evolves.


For more information about the MA program in Art Therapy, check out the International School website or feel free to email us at infograd@univ.haifa.ac.il.


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