In a shelter in a school in Deir Al-Balah, the animated film SpongeBob SquarePants is projected on a sheet -- part of play-led psychological first aid. Sharek Youth Forum (SYF), a grassroots Palestinian charity, also stages volleyball tournaments, traditional Palestinian games, and football matches at shelters led by Sunbirds, a group of amputee Palestinian sportsmen. Its Hiroshima-Gaza initiative offers weekly lessons in mathematics, Arabic, English and history to children in shelters. Like SYF, Free Gaza Circus quickly adapted, distributing food parcels and cookies to children at performances. “I like it when the children’s faces light up when we perform for them,” says co-founder Mohammed Khader. “In that moment they forget the bomb strikes and ruined homes. They forget the tears they have shed. At that moment they feel safe.”

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