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.

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