More than 200 young Lebanese joined the British Ambassador to Lebanon, H.E. Frances Guy, and other dignitaries to celebrate the Youth Community Empowerment Program and mark the launch of the Youth Community Action Network. The network, known as YouthCAN, will build on the program’s strengthening of youth-focused civil society organizations.
“You have all shown us how it can be done,” Ambassador Guy told the young people, who received awards from the Embassy and IREX Europe, which implemented the project. Also on hand was a representative of the Lebanese Ministry of Interior, Ziad Baroud, and the US Embassy’s coordinator for the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), Amanda Kraenmer.
The program supported and mentored the following organizations :
Youth for Tolerance (Y4T), which worked in the southern suburbs of Beirut on the Student Swap project to fight prejudice among teens from various sectarian backgrounds.
Beeatoona, which worked in South Mount Lebanon (Aley on the Green Lebanon with Peace project to promote peace building in divided communities through environmental activities.
SADA from the West Bekaa (Jeb Jennine), which undertook the Draw to Build project to build conflict mitigation techniques among youth through drama and art.
SAWA in Bekaa (Baalbak), which did the Together We Reconstruct project to promote a culture of acceptance through theater productions.
We Love Tripoli, whose We Love Tripoli project promotes teamwork, volunteerism, and citizenship through an online volunteer management database.
Khota Al-Shabab from South Mount Lebanon (Aley), which conducted the United…Never Again Divided project to bridge sectarian divides among youth from Druze and Christian communities by reviving the storytelling (Hakawati) tradition in the area.
Ambassador Guy said the British Government was pleased to support the projects’ work in promoting democracy, tolerance and equal treatment. She praised the diversity of ideas and the evident optimism and spirit of cooperation evidenced by the projects, which she said gives hope for the future through the efforts of young people.
IREX Program Director Peter Salloum emphasized the role of youth in social and community actions and noted how they can shift from a source of instability to one of community building. He also stressed the need to acknowledge youth for being experts in their own developments.
Then representatives of the six CSOs announced the launching of the YouthCAN Network, which resulted from several meetings held by groups after the completion of their respective projects. IREX offered its office as a site for the discussions, but did not interfere in their decision.
YouthCAN aims at engaging youth groups as forces for positive change at the national level through the following activities:
Supporting the collaboration among diverse youth organizations across Lebanon.
Creating a learning platform for social knowledge-building and sharing.
Inducing a socially responsible mentality and promoting entrepreneurship skills among youth.
Implementing community-driven actions in partnerships with the private or public sector.
The network will serve in the future as a framework for collaborative efforts of diverse youth-led groups dedicated to sharing expertise and resources to implement projects nationwide in the fields of citizenship, environmental awareness, advocacy, and youth development.
Youth receiving IREX Europe and British Embassy certificates
Congratulation speech of the British Ambassador to Lebanon, H.E Frances Guy
Youth attending YCEP final event