By Michael Lavalette, Vasilios Ioakimidis
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Extra resources for Social work in extremis: Lessons for social work internationally
In this chapter we intend to look at the development of Samidoun and the various initiatives it undertook in the context of the July war. We explore the politics behind the organisation and its links to the broader social movement against the invasion. Finally, we ask if there are any general lessons that can be drawn from the Samidoun experience for social workers and welfare providers in ‘extreme’ circumstances as well as more generally. In doing this, we draw on the words of the activists themselves.
How do you talk to a conservative woman about breast cancer, or young people about sexuality, without talking about politics? ” The first task Samidoun faced was finding somewhere to operate from. This started for the first time in 1982 – and later 40 people were massacred there – but it’s now common knowledge, that’s where you go. ” Lebanon’s history of war and civil strife meant that people knew where to go, where was safe and where they would find others in a similar position to themselves: there was an embedded historical knowledge of what to do in crisis situations.
They managed to persuade Lebanese television to put out a call for volunteers. T told us: “Nobody told me in advance, but my mobile number was put out as the contact point. Suddenly my phone started ringing. ” By the end of the 33-Day War just over 1,000 people had volunteered and been active within the Samidoun network. Meeting human need in a time of crisis During the first couple of days of the war the activists had organised themselves and found a base to work from, but there was still confusion over what was to be done.
Social work in extremis: Lessons for social work internationally by Michael Lavalette, Vasilios Ioakimidis