Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Voices of Youth

Inline image 3"Amplifying the Voice of Youth in Northern Beqaa" , a joint project wirh OTI/USAID will be executed in the following eight areas, Hermel, Ain-Fakiha, Ersal, Labweh, Baalbek, Dayr Al Ahmar, Britel, Chmostar-Bednayel, bringing youth together to become activists in the community.
These areas border each other and are composed with families of different theological backgrounds and a history of skirmishes resulting from the clash of sectarian values. There will be around 120 participants total from the eight villages. The youth participants will take trainings in Leadership skills, Issue Identification, Conflict Transformation and Communication Skills while brainstorming and sharing opinions of what the problems are in each area. From each of the areas two participants will be nominated by the group as true leaders and will represent the group throughout the project. These 16 chosen leaders will form their own group called the Youth Steering Committee in decision making and meet with key stakeholders as well as organize the Youth Forum.
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After surveying and analyzing the potential problems in the areas, the participants will produce a pamphlet with key issues in the community and a plethora of pragmatic solutions. This pamphlet will be distributed to INGOS and NGOs during a press conference that the participants will use as a platform to voice the individual and shared concerns of each area.
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The Lebanese Organization of Studies and Trainings working with OTI have a vision of a unified Lebanon especially the deprived Beqaa region that they will accomplish in the long run with this project as a stepping stone. Together they are taking Lebanese participants from the variant backgrounds to become representatives in their areas and bridge the ideologies of the people to enhance Beqaa. LOST's ultimate goal is to build an imperishable community of peace that generates positive approaches to negative situations and nourishes an open mentality.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Who Says Women Can’t Work? Certainly Not LOST

In Hermel, Bekaa on Thursday October 1st, 2015 Regional Head of Education in Baalbek-Hermel, Lamia Husseini, gave an empowering speech to young women on success in a man's world. The Lebanese Organization of Studies and Trainings invited Husseini as a motivational speaker as part of the "Step towards Municipal Elections" program funded by The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
More than 100 women attended ranging from 15 to 50 years old. Husseini shared her experience of how she landed a role in decision making on education related topics in the Baalbek-Hermel area after a life time of teaching.
Husseini said, "Women playing a role in society other than the traditional housewives role promotes and aids to the development in the country; it is very important for women to participate in the community. I don't like to hear a woman or man saying 'women can't or shouldn’t do this, that, or the other', I am a strong and firm believer in gender equality. Physical differences should not be reason to stop women from doing a man's job but that's what culture has misled us to believe."
STEP aims to educate and promote women to participate in decision making in their municipalities and run for office in the municipal elections. During the several trainings participants learn their rights, where to go for information, conflict resolution skills, social media and computer skills and more. LOST wants to flip the board and increase the one percent statistic of women holding political seats.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Communication is Key

The Lebanese Organization of Studies and Trainings (LOST) is six months in to its project "Food Security for Vulnerable Families" funded by Mennonite Central Committee (MCC).
During a workshop on September 23rd, 2015 under the life skills category, LOST gave training on child care and the psychology of child. One week later a Lebanese participant named Nada Sarout a 40-year-old mother with three kids, Ali (5), Mohammed (11) and Khawla (12) shared her thoughts on the training. Sarout takes care of her husband as well as her children. Her husband experienced a stroke that had left his whole left side of the body immobile and so he is unable to provide for his children. Influenced by the workshop she said, "I am used to just smacking my kids [especially my youngest] when they do something wrong before giving them the chance to speak. After learning about methods to understand children, I have stopped using the old methods with them."
"I now ask them what is wrong and try to understand the problem; it makes more sense to communicate because hitting isn’t getting us anywhere."
This project aims at empowering women by distributing sheep to the most vulnerable Lebanese families. Thus Lebanese women become assistant head of households by increasing the income generation to provide for their children. The Food Security project also bonds Lebanese and Syrian Refugee women to coexist peacefully through life skills and peace building workshops. The sheep Sarout owns now has a little lamb offspring.
In addition, the Syrian and Lebanese women attending the workshop created a Whatsapp group to communicate throughout the week.