Happiness, Sadness, and Hope for the Future in Narratives of Palestinian Refugee Children

Abstract

Hope, as the measurable factor of how a young person perceives the future and their ability to be successful within their cultural context over time, is associated with a variety of positive outcomes including increased perceptions of happiness, positive academic achievement, and even lower risk of death. However, for children embedded in long-lasting geo-political conflicts that affect negatively individuals, families, and communities, and over which they have no ability to affect resolution or progress, hope is an illusive concept. The purpose of the current study was to test self-reported measures of happiness, sadness, and hope for the future in narratives of internally displaced Palestinian refugee youth across the West Bank. The sample consisted of 30 youth aged 14–16 years; they were selected from 5 Palestinian internally displaced (IDP) refugee camps (Balata, Askar, Ein Beit al-ma’, Nur Shams, and Jenin) in the West Bank of Palestine. Results demonstrated that factors related to youth-perceived happiness were the belief in freedom and peace for the future, interactions and activities with other youth, summer and winter camps, and material and emotional rewards they receive from caretakers (parents and teachers). Results also showed that factors contributing to self-reported sadness were occupation of their homeland, negative school conditions such as overcrowding and lack of resources, living conditions such as, and specific incidents of loss and traumatic experiences. Results also indicated that the hope for the future for Palestinian refugee children was based on their stated desires to continue their education, live in freedom and peace, return to their homeland, and get married and have a family. This work supports the ongoing inability of Palestinian youth to gather positive affect from the strengthening factors in their families and communities and maintain a belief in a better future via pro-social behaviors such as education, the establishment of families, and the return of their homes and lands.

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Correspondence to Fayez Mahamid.

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Mahamid, F., Berte, D.Z. Happiness, Sadness, and Hope for the Future in Narratives of Palestinian Refugee Children. Int J Ment Health Addiction 18, 1638–1651 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11469-020-00303-2

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Keywords

  • Happiness
  • Sadness
  • Hope for the future
  • Palestinian refugee children