February 15, 2016 the Lebanese Organization for Studies and Trainings (LOST) launched an eleven-month project entitled “Learning and Skills Programs for Syrian Refugees and Lebanese Youth.” The program, which is in partnership with UNICEF, aims at facilitating the life of the Lebanese and Syrian youth, improving their life standards, effecting change on the way they interact with society, empowering them to change their lives as they desire, and building bridges of coexistence and cohesion in Baalbek region.
In the opening ceremony, Dr. Rami Lakkis, the founder of LOST, drew up the general contour of the project and specified its milieu at the local and the regional level. He asserts that “Lebanon is in the first position universally in hosting refugees with a ratio of 188 refugees (Syrian and Palestinian) for each 1000 Lebanese residents. This situation badly impacts the social structure, hinders the possibilities of development, and burdens an already overwhelmed country,” Lakkis said. This influx, which is considered a threat, could be changed into a chance if it is dealt with positively. So running such projects does not only create new chances, but it also shows a humanitarian commitment. Lakkis said, “Giving a hand to needy people shows that we are transforming our humanitarian principles to actual deeds.”
Another key merit of this project is promoting good governance in a society that is widely ignorant of this concept. “We want to empower people and train them on good governance to support the government institutions and promote a culture of productivity and peace. The more the people participate actively and properly in their communities, the more the government responds to their demands,” Lakkis proclaimed. So training is a bridge toward good governance and a cohesive society.
This project is considered to be amongst the most geographically spread out projects with a capacity of 57 training hubs distributed over 9 areas; Baalbek, Hermel, Ein, Chaat, Deir Ahmar, Ersal, Boday, Chmustar, Bednayel. The huge number of beneficiaries, 15.150, shows that LOST is determined to help its community. Time wise, the project is divided into three cycles and each cycle lasts for three and a half months.
The project includes the following programs: learning functional literacy and numeracy (CST), competency based skills training (CBS), individual and social skills training (ISST), and peace education workshops (PEW). Then the project gives the participants the chance to contribute to their community issues via youth-led initiatives (YLI) which are funded by the project. At the end of the project, a marathon entitled “Pace for Peace Marathon (PPM)” will be organized to voice the program’s values of coexistence, social cohesion, and peace building all over Baalbeck.
The initiation phase of the project includes several steps. The first step is recruiting and setting up Work Hubs (teaching centers). Then, the participants will fill in a life skills CV; the life skills CV is a document that states what skills each beneficiary already has and which ones he/she aspires to acquire. For trainers, a set of TOT workshops will be conducted during the first month to make everyone well aware about his/her tasks and how to carry them out properly. After all preparations are completed, the teaching will commence in the beginning of March, 2016.
LOST’s strategic partnership with UNICEF is resulting in empowering thousands of Lebanese youth and Syrian refugees via sharpening their cognitive, individual, instrumental, and social abilities. It will also reduce tension and promote better relations between Lebanese citizens and the Syrain community for a more peaceful and stabilized country.