Wednesday, November 30, 2011

“All For The Country, For The Glory, For The Flag”: LOST Observes The Nation’s Independence Day in Its Own Special Way

 In commemoration of the Lebanese independence from in 1943, LOST organized a celebration ceremony at the Headquarters of the Lebanese Youth Network (LYN) on the Ras-el-Ain Avenue in Baalbeck.
The ceremony aimed at thanking the Lebanese Army for its selfless contributions to the nation and at marking the 68th independence anniversary of the Republic of Lebanon. In accomplishing these objectives, LOST organized an event for the children and families of the Lebanese Army martyrs who have given their lives for their country and the well-being of its citizenry.
The Lebanese National Anthem rocked the opening of the event and was followed by a welcome address by Kilmar Asaad, the event host and a member of the Lebanese Association of Students (LAS), who thanked the audience for participating in the event and the Lebanese Army for their dedication to the security and sovereignty of Lebanon. After the address, LAS, LOST’s partner in the event, presented a talent show for the audience and which included a performance of patriotic songs by participating children, clown show, quizzes and drawing contest.
A sports show which was presented for the audience by LYN, LOST’s other partner in the event, trailed the talent show and enthralled viewers with an amusement factor beyond anyone’s expectations. A Judo match, gymnastics show and Ping-Pong performance were the main components of this section of the event.  
Omar Bay’yan, the head of the Educational Committee at LOST, delivered the keynote address on behalf of LOST and, at the end of his speech, distributed presents to the orphans of the fallen martyrs of the nation’s Army. Speaking on behalf of the latter, First Lieutenant Mohammad Janbeyn thanked LOST, LAS and LYN for their efforts in making the event happen and recognized the fallen martyrs for their priceless contributions to their nation’s security and independence.
A lunch at Baytna Restaurant for the participating families and children marked the final section of LOST’s Independence Day celebration event. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

LOST Hits-the-Ground-Running with Its First Women’s Economic Empowerment Project

LOST embarked on the Women’s Economic Empowerment Project (WEEP) in the city of Baalbeck in an effort to enhance the social, economic and political status of women in the Baalbeck-Hermel region so they become more apt players in their community. The first training session of the project was held on the 17th of October 2011 from 10 am and until noon at LOST’s headquarters in Baalbeck.
 LOST’s latest campaign comes at a time when women in the region continue to lack their basic civil rights and the means to access assets necessary for them to lead a life enjoyed by their male counterparts locally and nationally. In most communities of the region, for instance, women lack adequate access to the information necessary to build their character and career and are unaware of their political, economic, religious or social rights. Their presence in the national legislature and in local governing bodies remains nil and their participation in the workforce low, even though women have a constitutional right to participate in public life and to pursue their chosen careers. Furthermore, initiatives for the economic support of women are nonexistent in the region and as thus their chances of professional growth therein are severely undermined. 
To alleviate this problem, LOST has launched WEEP on the 24th of September when it announced the project to the local communities and commenced a marketing campaign to promote the new initiative.
WEEP’s curriculum includes a theoretical part and a practical one. The former is scheduled to last until the first week of December and focuses on educating participants about the principles of entrepreneurship and management and also about information technology. The latter part begins in mid December yet its duration varies on a case-by-case basis. It focuses on providing participants with guidance during the implementation process of the projects incepted by individual participants. WEEP is the first project LOST undertakes which focuses solely on women’s issues in the region.
WEEP is managed by The Lebanese Organization for Studies and Training (LOST) in a joint partnership with Bridging the Divide, a non-profit organization based in the United States aiming at promoting peace, human rights and good governance around the world. WEEP is publicly funded via voluntary donations through a charity fundraising portal called Global Giving, which offers non-profit organizations an avenue to raise the funding necessary to carry out development projects. For more information on WEEP, visit the following link:

Monday, November 28, 2011

LOST Conducts a Training of Trainers Session for Its Women’s Political Empowerment Project

In preparation for the Women’s Political Empowerment (WPE) project which has been made possible through a generous grant from the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the Lebanese capital Beirut, LOST started the Training-of-Trainers (TOT) sessions for the project staff at its Baalbeck Headquarters on the Ras-el-Ain Avenue.
Manar Za’ayter, a private practice Attorney-at-Law specialized in the Human Rights field in general and in the Women’s Rights sub-field in particular, led the TOT.
Za’ayter’s training curriculum included two components: Theoretical and practical. The former component provided trainers with a general overview of the women’s rights field such as the evolution of the concept throughout history while the latter component acquainted trainers with the technicalities of women’s participation in the political life of their community. An overview of the avenues to cross in empowering women to actively participate in the public life of their community is among the topics covered in this section of the TOT.
In an effort to allow trainers to be better equipped in leading WPE, training guides were distributed during the TOT session which is one of the two TOT sessions planned for the project. WPE is a LOST-managed project aiming at educating local women about their civil rights as women-members of the community, providing instructions on how to become involved in public life and equipping them with the skills and tools necessary to achieve their goals and ambitions.
WPE is scheduled to run until March 2012 when participants implement what they have learned in the classroom in the real world by organizing small community projects.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

LOST Receives Funding for Political Empowerment of Women Project

LOST is announcing the launch of its Political Empowerment of Women (PEW) project in the Baalbeck-Hermel region after it signed the funding acceptance agreement with the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Beirut on Friday, the 28th of October, at the Embassy’s premises in Achrafieh in Beirut.
In line with LOST’s mission and agenda, PEW has a threefold objective. First, it aims at educating 120 women from the Baalbeck-Hermel region about their civil rights as women in the community. Second, it seeks to provide these women with guidance on how to participate actively in public and political affairs. Third and last, it aims at offering participating women a chance to acquire the tools and skills necessary to help them better advocate their rights and issues at the local and national levels.
PEW is scheduled to run for six months. The first month of the project will be of preparatory nature and include recruitment of participants, development of training material and selection of staff, while the following four months will be of academic nature and will tackle the learning objectives of the project. It is at this stage of PEW that participants will learn about civic and political empowerment issues such as citizenship and civic participation. Small community projects designed to allow participants to implement the learned material effectively will consume the sixth and final month of the project.  The latter will involve the communities of Baalbeck, Shmestar, Ain, Hermel, Akkar and Ersal.
The anticipated impact of the project on the communities of the region is immense. Women are expected to develop their leadership aptitude to where they are more involved in their communities, socially and politically alike, and to learn the skills, knowledge and information technology tools which would allow them to accomplish such an objective. Development of an institutional support base for women in the Baalbeck-Hermel region is a long term expectation of the project.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

LOST Launches Two New Projects

On the evening of Thursday, the 27th of October, 2011, LOST celebrated the launch of two new projects in the Baalbeck-Hermel region in a ceremonial dinner at its headquarters in Baalbeck, in the presence of prominent community figures and supporters. 
The Lebanon Civic Initiative project aims at providing youth with civic and IT education and training in order to allow them to lead local grassroots-organizing efforts and to advocate issues of concern for their community effectively. The Academy of Youth project is designed to provide local youth with education on civic issues including citizenship, conflict resolution and good governance, among others, and with training in English, Information Technology, Social Media tools and internet research. Both projects commenced in September of 2011 and are sponsored USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI/USAID). 
Held at the Tammouz Hall in the Lakkis Building in Baalbeck, the ceremony hosted prominent community figures including Mr Duraid Yaghi, Archbishop Ilias Rahhal, Colonel Mardini and Major Haidar Mazloum, mayors, school principals, teachers, supporters and LOST staff.
Five speakers addressed the ceremony participants. Hussein Yazbeck, LOST-Beit Shema’s branch director delivered the opening address welcoming the attendees and thanking them for their continued support of the organization. Yazbeck announced the launch of the two new projects and provided an overview of LOST’s activities in the region. Duraid Yaghi, the Deputy Director of the Lebanese Progressive Socialist Party, followed Yazbeck’s address with a speech highlighting the need of youth in the region for education of civic and cultural nature so they are more apt to shape their future and that of their homeland Lebanon. Also, he welcomed LOST’s two new projects and emphasized their crucial role in fulfilling the aforementioned need.
Archbishop Ilias Rahhal called on the audience at large and the representatives of the local academic community in particular to join efforts with LOST in developing the region via education and development initiatives. Omar Yassin, the kaemakam of Baalbeck, commended LOST for its contribution to the local community and encouraged participants to cooperate with the organization in the implementation of its initiatives. Ramy Lakkis, Director of LOST, delivered the concluding remarks and presented flowers to USAID director in Lebanon in recognition for OTI’s generous support of the new LOST projects.
Baytna, a Baalbeck-based restaurant located on the Ras el Ain Avenue, catered the event and offered participants an exquisite taste of the Lebanese cuisine while the Lute player Nazyh Ghadban enchanted their imagination with melodies borrowed from the Lebanese musical heritage. A cake-cutting ceremony concluded the festivity.
After the dinner, guests had a chance to take a glimpse of the rich heritage of  in  a photo-gallery set up in the banquet hall and learn about parts of the Lebanese folklore that have never been displayed in public before. Turath.Com, a local nonprofit organization established for the purpose of reviving the Lebanese heritage in the region and to ultimately globalize it via photo-displays and internet technologies, organized the show.
OTI/USAID is the major donor of LOST’s two new projects. Since its inception in September of 2007, the OTI program in Lebanon has supported over 199 projects worth more than USD 17 Million all aimed at preserving democracy and developing civil peace in Lebanon. The OTI program is scheduled to end in 2013.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

LOST Celebrates the Conclusion of the Summer 2011 Youth Academy, Graduates a New Class of TOEFL Students and Computer for Teachers Course Students

The Academy of Youth has successfully concluded its Summer 2011 season in Beit Shema with a festivity celebrating the success of its Ksarnaba project and the graduation of a new class of students of its Computer for Teachers course, TOEFL Preparatory Course and Summer 2011 Youth Academy this past Saturday, the 23rd of October, 2011, in Beit Shema in the Baalbeck-Hermel region.
Attended by students and their parents, LOST’s Director Ramy Lakkis, faculty and staff, Action Aid Denmark representatives, local political figures and community members, the “Youth Lead, We Follow” project final ceremony event in Beit Shema denotes the completion of a five month-long process which included four months of training and workshops on the topics of Conflict Resolution, Civic Participation, Citizenship and Peace and Tolerance and a one month of engagement in community projects in the Baalbeck-Hermel region. Saturday’s program celebrated the conclusion of the summer 2011 project for the Beit Shema branch.
 Hussein Yazbeck, the director of the Beit Shema branch of LOST, opened the program with a keynote address welcoming the program participants, recognizing the achievements of program and courses graduates and highlighting the activities and accomplishments of LOST in general and of the Beit Shema branch thereof in particular in the region. Yazbeck found especially noteworthy the Academy’s Ksarnaba project and its anticipated impact on youth in the community. “In this fascinating historic landmark in Ksarnaba our youth have found a way to undertake volunteering projects and to prove themselves capable of participating in the development of their region. They cooperated with relevant municipalities to illuminate the exterior section of the temple and locate signs and trash cans around the site. Also, they undertook a marketing campaign for this landmark by posting video excerpts on social media sites which they benefited greatly from during the academy.” He thanked Action Aid Denmark for their unyielding support of the Academy and in relation to LOST’s upcoming programming announced the organization’s newest course on computer networking titled CISCO Network Associate program commencing on the 19th of November, 2011.
 After the keynote address, participants watched a video presentation produced by the participants of the Youth Academy on Ksarnaba’s historic landmark, a Roman temple which ranks among the most important Roman temples in the region. The video presentation is one of Youth Academy’s civic engagement projects designed to draw the attention of the Ministry of Tourism of Lebanon and that of the public at large to this little known yet historically significant historic landmark via a lobbying campaign coupled with a marketing agenda executed through social and traditional media outlets.
The video presentation was followed by a theatrical play and a mime show performed by the academy participants. The purpose of both shows was to translate the key educational tenets of the academy to the audience in an easy to grasp and entertaining manner and allow participants to “live” the learned lessons during the civic education part of the academy on stage and therefore better understand its message.
LOST-Beit Shema’s festivity is the fourth and final graduation ceremony of the Summer 2011 Youth Academy this year after the final ceremonies in Hermel and Ain. LOST-Hermel graduated its class of Youth Academy participants on Friday, the 22nd of October. The branch’s ceremony included a theatrical play addressing the issue of conflict resolution at the community level and ridiculed the established custom of resolving conflicts via violence and arms rather than dialogue. Also, it addressed the women’s rights issue and called for legislative reforms therein as women in the region continue to lack their basic civil rights. The ceremony highlighted the Academy’s civic engagement project in the area and which aimed at raising the local community’s and the national government’s attention to the Brisa Ruins via print material, social media outlets and information technology.
LOST-Ain graduated its class on the 21st of October. Its ceremony included a theatrical play targeting the women’s rights issue and criticized the status quo where women are empowered in the media only but in reality continue to suffer from discrimination and neglect. The academy’s project included an awareness campaign calling for the preservation of Ain’s historic housing sites and Labweh’s Roman Ruins and the historic train station via print material distributed to local schools and associations. 
Action Aid Denmark is a major donor of LOST’s Summer 2011 Youth Academy and has been a strategic partner in fulfilling LOST’s mission in the Baalbeck-Hermel region. Thanks to the generous donations from Action Aid, LOST has been able to offer youth in the local communities with civic education and engagement opportunities which are fundamental to leading the way to a stronger, fairer and democratic Lebanon and plant the seeds for a nation built on the principles of democracy and justice. Casper Petersen, a volunteer worker for Action Aid Denmark and one of the program’s attendees, remarked his fondness of the theatrical play and the ingenuity of the program. “Acting is an international language and a great way to express your ideas. It goes beyond language since it targets different senses. Youth seemed to be very engaged and that will facilitate the learning process for them,” Petersen commented.
Planning and execution of the 2012 Youth Academy are ongoing. For information on participation in the academy, please visit LOST’s web site or one of LOST’s locations in Baalbeck, Ain, Beit Shema or Hermel.