Search for Common Ground Lebanon held today the final grand event to wrap up the first year of the European Union-funded initiative ‘Better Together: A Youth Led Approach to Peaceful Coexistence’.
The event took place in Jezzine and was attended by representatives from the Delegation of the European Union, local authorities in the Bekaa and South Lebanon, several NGOs, embassies, and the media.
‘Better Together’ is a two-year initiative that was launched in April 2014, in partnership with the Lebanese Organisation for Studies and Training (LOST) NGO in the Bekaa and the Development for People and Nature Association (DPNA) NGO in South Lebanon. It aims at promoting dialogue and trust-building between 320 Syrian refugee and Lebanese youth from 8 different communities to foster trusting, empathetic and respectful relationships. The youth started their journey together during two summer camps in August 2014 where they bonded while developing different types of art projects.
During the ceremony, 50 young Lebanese, Syrian and Palestinian aged between 15 and 25 years old presented their videos, a collaborative comic book, a theatre play, and music performances to their peers and people of their community to promote positive examples of trustful relations between Syrian and Lebanese youth and support social stability.
“We are going to witness today, how music, songs, theatre and comic-strips can become carriers of the ideals that these youth aspire to; how, from a collective creative work, we can actually create and build leaders for the future, a better society and more stable communities,” Dr Alexis Loeber, Head of the Cooperation Section at the Delegation of the European Union stated.
Emily Jacquard, Country Director at Search for Common Ground Lebanon said: “This initiative provides the youth with a safe space to break down stereotypes and prejudices that will enable them to become positive role models within their communities. Today’s event was a real success and has proven that positive relations and social stability between refugee and host communities are possible and can be very rewarding for both sides. These youth have become positive leaders who are able to convey messages of tolerance and acceptance within their communities. Through this journey they have gained the confidence to stand up against discrimination.”
‘Better Together’ will repeat the same successful process starting this summer with another 160 youth for another year, to break negative perceptions between the communities and promote tolerance, mutual understanding and safety for a rewarding and hopeful tomorrow.