Tuesday, December 10, 2013

“Run All Together for Civil Peace” Race in Baalbeck:More than 1000 Participants Send a Clear Message on Independence Day, “We Want to Live Together”

Despite the fragile and critical security situation in Lebanon and the serious terrorist attacks and downright threats, the Lebanese Organization of Studies and Training in coordination with 6 local NGOs and more than 20 partnering schools in Northern Bekaa organized a “Run All Together for Civil Peace” Race in Baalbeck on November 22nd 2013.

With the objectives of promoting civil recreational activities in the region and ingraining the concept of peace building in the public mindset, LOST brought together more than 1000 people (youths, students, teachers, parents, local authorities, mukhtars…)to participate in the Race. The participants peacefully responded to the current security situation by holding well-thought-of slogans that advocate for tolerance, coexistence, and respect for the other. Of note, the participants prepared banners that hold these slogans and promote a culture of peace. These banners were posted on the track of the Race a week before the event in order to increase visibility of NGO and school initiatives towards peace building.
The Race aimed at raising public awareness and disseminating message of civil peace by attracting local and national media attention before, during and after the race. LOST conducted several national TV appearances on national media outlets like MTV, Manar, Future, and NBN just before the race to explain its objectives and encourage participation. The organization sought live radio coverage with PAX, a local radio, which conducted interviews with sponsors, racers, and organizers during the race. It is worth noting that a sound system at the start point and finish line was utilized to attract the attention of passersby through music, help organize crowds through instructions, echo the message and the slogan of the Race repeatedly to target new audiences, deliver speeches to the public, and announce the results of the winners and the draw. More appearances will be conducted to highlight impact and success.
The Lebanese Organization of Studies and Training also capitalized on direct interaction with local and national government. Given the fragile security situation and in an attempt to strengthen the relationships between civil society organizations and local government, LOST and partnering NGOs and schools coordinated the logistics of the Race with local government bodies like the Ministry of Youth and Sports, the municipality of Baalbeck, other municipalities, national security bodies, and the governate of Baalbeck. As a result representatives of local and national government bodies played a significant part in the design and the implementation of the Race. H.E the Faysal Karame sponsored the race and his delegate Dr. Yusef Shaheen delivered a speech by the end of the Race. Representatives of the municipality of Baalbeck and other local municipalities,and Mucktars also attended the event. Internal Security Forces, General Security, Lebanese Army, and Red Cross secured the itinerary of the race. Such involvement of various stakeholders modeled LOST and partnering NGOs as credible community actors in the field of peace building.

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