Saturday, February 27, 2016

In Hermel village lived the Syrian refugee Maohammad Kassem Marroosh with his pregnant wife and two children. Everything was calm and serene in his life until an electrical short circuit occurred and his house was burnt to the ground. He found no one to support him but a man who offered him a small filthy room to settle in whilst he could find an alternative place. His two children (2 years and 4 years old) and his wife were unable to be vulnerable toFebruary’s cold weather, and the family’s afflicted life started to be whispered among the villagers. It was LOST’s members who reacted effectively upon the awful situation and planned for an action plan. They contacted the stricken family and offered it a solution. The family was granted enough wood and Nylon sheets to build a brand-new tent. Tragically, the family was that short of money that it was impossible to pay for the transportation fees of thegiven weatherproofing kit. In response, LOST extended its offer by finding the means to send the wood and sheet to the specified place. Moreover, LOST members volunteered their time and energy to give a hand to Mohammad Marroosh who was not able to build his tent by himself. 

With LOST’s aid, Marroosh and his family are no longer vulnerable to the nature’s fury or social insecurity. At least, they have a shelter where they can sleep peacefully!

This task lies under LOST’s mandate of providing winterization assistance and weatherproofing tools to more than 1500 vulnerable Syrian refugees and Lebanese host families in Baalbeck-Hermel region.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

LOST and UNICEF’s Visit to Britel

On February 22nd, 2015 the Lebanese Organization of Studies and Training (LOST) and a senior delegation from UNICEF visited the municipality of Britel as part of following up with the implementation of UNICEF’s joint projects with LOST that are carried out in the region. UNICEF delegation included two key UNICEF fundraisers; Irish Natcom, The One Foundation in addition to Mr. Donnacha O’Callaghan the Good Will Ambassador, Deputy Director Mr. Luciano Calestini, Youth sector Coordinator, Amal Obeid, and UNICEF's Bekaa team.
The delegation first met the Mayor of Britel, Abbass Ismail, to discuss the impact of the Syrian influx on the hosting community and the impact of LOST/UNICEF intervention in the village. The mayor asserted that the village has been affected by the Syrian influx since the beginning of the crisis; today's ratio in Britel is one Syrian to every five Lebanese. This has had an extreme effect on the infrastructure of the village and its social structure. The mayor remarked that LOST has been working along with the municipality and UNICEF’s support to mitigate the tensions caused by the increase of the refugee population. To achieve such a purpose, LOST in collaboration with the municipality of Britel recruited 30 youth participants (15 Syrian and 15 Lebanese) from the village in a 3-month program to get a set of trainings and carry-out a youth-led initiative that meets a community need. The mayor said, "An interesting part of the story is how humanitarian the project was carried out regardless of being Lebanese or Syrian."
Aside with meeting the mayor, the UNICEF delegation met the youth beneficiaries who were eager to speak about the training they have undergone on needs assessment, leadership, communication skills, and project design. The trainees highly appreciated the chance UNICEF, Lebanon and LOST offered them to implement a community project based on their assessment of the village’s needs. They thanked LOST and UNICEF, Lebanon for the chance to make a change in their community. Of note, the youth-led initiative was to renovate a football playground which was constructed earlier by LOST after the 2006 war. This community project was part of 15 other initiatives LOST in partnership with UNICEF, Lebanon is conducting across Baalbek-Hermel region in 2015 to engage youth in taking a stand and responding to community needs. In 2016, LOST and UNICEF, Lebanon are planning to implement 45 more similar initiatives in different villages in the region.
The organic partnership between LOST and UNICEF, Lebanon was discussed in light of how fruitful it is in helping vulnerable people, with manners of humanity and dignity. Assem Chraif, Project Director explained the approach adopted by LOST to mitigate tensions between refugees and the hosting community through linking social cohesion to local development. He also proclaims that engaging Lebanese and Syrian youth in the implementation of small community projects and making such initiatives visible will create a role model for other youth to follow. The UNICEF, Lebanon deputy director Luciano Calestini, replied, “I thank LOST and the municipality for their active support and cooperation. What they did qualifies to be a role-model for future design of collaboration between government, citizens, and local communities.”
LOST and UNICEF, Lebanon have a common goal to merge Syrians and Lebanese Youth in a peaceful environment, thus lessening tensions between different constituents of the society and protecting the extremely vulnerable people.

Learning and Skills Programs for Syrian Refugees and Lebanese Youth

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.

People to People

The Lebanese Organization of Studies and Trainings (LOST) has partnered once again with OTI/USAID in a five-month peace-building initiative entitled “People to People”. This initiative joins Ersal and the surrounding villages to reduce tensions and enhance the communication between them.
Sixty youth participants have been chosen from the four villages as follows: 30 from Ersal, 10 from Labweh, 10 from Ain, and 10 from Nabi Othman. The trainings address several topics, among of which are leadership, conflict transformation, and reconciliation. These trainings are intended to reflect the concept of forgiveness between the historically conflicted areas and promote a culture of peace.

Progressing in the project the participants will engage in a series of mutual charity campaigns among the chosen villages. Participants from Ersal will collect donations and distribute them in Labweh, Ain, and Nabi Othman. Reciprocally, the groups of the other three villages distribute their villages’ donations in Ersal. The donations include clothing and other usable items. “People to People” initiative is projected to conclude the 31st of May of 2016.
LOST's “People to People” campaign aims to lessen the effects of religious and political tensions in Northern Bekaa especially that of the village of Ersal. LOST's mission is to address the humanitarian demands in the four villages and elicit local solutions that amplifies the qualities of compassion and coexistence.

Empowering Women to Lead

The Lebanese Organization for Studies and Training (LOST) joins women in Baalbek region in terms of empowering them to take lead positions in their community. The project entitled “Empowering Women to Lead” was kicked-off in November 2015 and will end in January of 2017. The 15-month initiative covers six villages: Hermel, Labweh, Chaat, Deir Al Ahmar, Chmistar, and Tamnin Al Fawqaa. 
In each village, twenty female participants within the age group of 22 and older have signed up to be part of this empowering three-stage project. The first stage has commenced as of December 2015 with trainings that will continue for the next four months. The topics of trainings include women's rights, leadership, civic activism, local development, municipality law, and needs analysis. In the second stage, the participating women are asked to prepare and present 3 lectures about waste management, local development, and social protection. In the third stage, the trainees will analyze the needs of the individual villages in order to implement small community projects that will benefit the villages. They, as women, will make a difference in their respective communities by utilizing methods of the theoretical and practical training and putting them into effect.
LOST’s “Empowering Women to Lead” triggers the potential energy of women, transforms it, refines their leadership skills and promotes them to take part in decision making in order to strengthen and develop their communities.  

Nehna La Baad Initiative Becomes a Permanent Plan for Cloth Support

    After several meetings with activists, stakeholders and donors, The Lebanese Organization for Studies and Training (LOST) set an initiative to distribute clothes for needy families in Baalbek for winter and summer. The collection of clothing for the spring and summer season will commence in the weeks to come.
     In the Baalbek governorate center the campaign was launched in October 2015 with the presence of Baalbek governor, Bashir Khoder, who made a donation for the sake of “Nehna La Baad” initiative. Khoder said, “You -in LOST- have been part of my success since I started my job as a governor of Baalbek-Hermel region; simply I couldn’t succeed alone.”
The founder of LOST, Dr. Rami Lakkis, had a speech in which he stressed the governor’s contribution in solving the region’s problems. Lakkis addressed Khoder by saying, “We all share the region’s problems and depending on our experience with you for more than one year, we could feel that you take care of Baalbek possibly more than the city’s residents themselves.”
    Another launching of the project took place in LOST’s main branch in Baalbek project was set in action. The staff in charge began in the collection of clothing and collected contributions from the beginning of October till mid-November 0f 2015. The donations were organized and packed from November 15, 2015 and January 15, 2016. While collecting and distributing the clothing LOST as a research center was able to create a database with information on the many needy families in Baalbek. This database will be used for assistance in future projects.
The families receiving the donations were extremely happy and they expressed their happiness and appreciation in a humble way. There will be another round of “Nehna La Baad” in April 2016 for more families to receive assistance. In response to the harvested success, LOST saw it fit to turn the clothes-distribution initiative into a permanent stream of charity and esprit de corps.
    LOST’s “Nehna La Baad” aims at enhancing the sense of cooperation and social solidarity in Baalbek region.    

LOST's Clean-Up Campaign in Dar Al-Wasaa to continue in Months to Come

The Lebanese Organization for Studies and Training (LOST) after several meetings with the local community activists and stakeholders in the village of Dar Al-Wasaa found solutions for the waste crisis, which aroused due to the lack of municipality and strategy plan to enforce waste management.
The founder of LOST, Dr. Ramy Lakkis, believed that the best way to bring about change would be through a partnership with the local community.  LOST members had several meetings with the villagers in the LOST center and in Dar Al-Wasaa. The meetings concluded with a three month long initiative that allowed LOST to provide the village with 106 waste containers which were distributed throughout.
 The villagers, enthusiastic that they launched a campaign to clean their village from waste and to eliminate the random ex-landfills started donating resources. One of the activists in the village provided the village with a pick-up truck to collect the waste in the containers. LOST offered to pay for the truck driver and the fuel and the other villagers voluntarily paid for the workers in charge of collecting the waste and taking it to Baalbek Modern Landfill. To sustain the efforts made by the community for the clean-up, special posters were placed around the village with messages to ban throwing waste in areas that are not designated.
 Dar Al-Wasaa lies in the Western Mountain Chain of Lebanon is described as a touristic village; rich in water and green areas. The initiative to rid pollution from Dar Al-Wasaa and other villages is now under discussion between LOST and local activists to turn it into a permanent solution.   

LOST Preparedness before the Storm succeeds: Syrian Refugees safe and warm

After the snow storm that hit Bekaa Region Sunday January 24th, 2016, LOST team went to check on Syrian Refugee Camps that received aid from MCC's Winterization Project to make sure that the refugees have the help they need. The latest distributions included wood beams and timber with measurements of 2.5x10 and 5x10 cm, plastic sheeting and basic tools to help in keeping the accommodation as warm and dry during the cold stormy season.
Weather-proofing kits were distributed to 1,500 tents in Baalbek-Hermel Region. All along the roads, blue plastic sheets that cover the tents can from a mile away. These sheets are used to keep the accommodation dry from the rain and snow. The wood beams are for the refugees to add to the framework of the tent to support its structure from collapsing in the harsh weather conditions. 
Faisal Hamoud el Mohamed, a beneficiary from the joint project with LOST and MCC, his wife and five children are grateful that the supplies came before the storm and give many thanks for the heaters, blankets, wood beams, plastic sheet and diesel that have kept their family warm will help them survive the cold to come.

UNICEF and LOST Raising Awareness against Polio in Northern Bekaa

For the third time in history, The Lebanese Organization of Studies and Trainings works with UNICEF in raising awareness for the Polio Virus in children. This month, January and next month LOST will be going to 36 villages in the Baalbek-Hermel Region door-to-door informing mothers about the symptoms and irreversible side effects of Polio that affect children starting at birth. This virus can strike at any age but mainly affects children under five. Polio is water borne and is unpredictable and silent; symptoms include a mild fever, headache, fatigue, and pain in limbs.
Although a direct study was never conducted on the quality of water in Lebanon, studies have been conducted for the water in Egypt, Jordan, Palestine, Iraq and Syria and the results showed the water contaminated with the virus. 
This awareness campaign is to prevent the children around the world from being affected by this horrible disease that hits the nervous system and causes paralysis in a matter of hours. One case of Polio can automatically become an epidemic nationwide. It is the duty of LOST and UNICEF to spread the facts and convince families to get their children vaccinated to protect them from the probability of losing their life at a young age.
From January 25th to the 30th the first round of vaccines will be given through the 36 villages and on the 22nd-27th of February the second round will commence. It is necessary for children to receive both doses of the vaccination in order for the vaccination to be effective and for UNICEF and LOST to reach their goal of Polio elimination. The vaccination will be available for free at various locations specified by UNICEF for children up to five years old.

First Day of Apron Distribution In Baalbek Ahla Project

Tuesday January 5th, 2016, The Lebanese Organization of Studies and Trainings distributed the first batch of aprons to butchers and bakers in Baalbek as part of LOST's project Baalbek Ahla.
Founder of LOST, Dr. Ramy Lakkis met with the projects contributing partner, Director of BBAC Baalbek branch, Assad Salman, the governor of Baalbek-Hermel, Bashir Khodr, the Mayor of Baalbek, Dr. Hamad Hassan, Head of the Health Department in Baalbek, Dr. Haj Hassan, key stakeholders and community activists to start distributing aprons to shops.
In Baalbek, there are 69 total meat shops and 124 butchers and 61 Bakeries and 194 bakers. In the next following week 318 aprons will be distributed to the 130 shops.

Women Participating in "Promoting Women's Role in Political Participation in Baalbek" hold a Conference to discuss Strategy Plans

Tuesday December 29th, the Lebanese Organization of Studies and Training and their implementing partner Konrad Adeuneur Stiflung (KAS) representatives Hana Nasser and Peter Rimmele gathered in Tamooz Hall in Baalbek for a Conference to discuss the Advancement of Women In Politics. The participants of the Project "Promoting Women's Role in Political Participation in Baalbek" were joined by Governor of Baalbek-Hermel Bashir Khodr, former Minister Wafaa el Dika Hamze, General Security Major, Ghayes Zaiter, Pastor of the Greek Melkite Catholic Archbishop, Elias Rahhal and other community activists.
Dr. Ramy Lakkis, founder and President of LOST said, "This workshop is for the participants to voice their opinions about what stops them from political participation and what we can do to mend these obstacles."

It is the right of every citizen, man and women to participate in community and in politics. The participation of women in politics develops the country and aids in mending the community.
Khodr said, "Despite the shortcomings of our government, the republic of Lebanon was one of the first republics to give women suffrage rights in 1952. In Switzerland women didn’t gain the right to vote until 1972."
But the Lebanese women are not taking advantage of that right even though the number of women makes up half the community. This patriarchal community.
"I think it's time to change that," Khodr said.
The inherited mindset that women are less then men and shouldn’t belong in a man's world is wrong.
Khodr said, "It's our duty to encourage women to participate in all political and community endeavors."
Rahhal, the pastor said, "There shouldn’t be difference between religions or between genders. We need to build bridges with great communication skills to change the landscape and transform the problems of our country into positive solutions."
Peter Rimmele, the German resident representative for KAS and head of the rule of law program in the Middle East said that Lebanon is one of the leading Arab countries in the scope of media, education, arts, and business. But in politics the role of women is not reaching fair standard. There are only 4 women in the 128 seats in parliament; this ratio does not represent the population of Lebanon.
Lawyer Manar Zaiter, municipality member of Bednayel Inaya Sleiman and participant Kinda Abdel Sater made a group and spoke about the reality of the participation of women in Baalbek-Hermel.

A National Committee of UNICEF Beholds the Unity of Syrian and Lebanese Youth through Social Cohesion at LOST

Irish Natcoms and Media an independent non-governmental organization,  one of 36 National Committees that are a fundamental part of UNICEF's growing global organization, came to the Lebanese Organization of Studies and Trainings on Friday December 4th, 2015 in a visit organized by UNICEF to check on the Social Cohesion Activities LOST engages into through projects with UNICEF.
Natcoms delegation, Clare Herbert, James Kieran and Anne Doyle, along with UNICEF representatives visited a site in Hawsh el Rafqa and witnessed first-hand the bond being built between Lebanese and Syrian youth. LOST in all initiatives promote peace building education and social cohesion awareness merge activities to fraternize Syrian Refugee and Lebanese youth. Through these trainings and activities LOST encourages youth to engage in peaceful actions and to stay away from violence.

Reducing Tension by Stabilizing Local Authorities

“Future Together Now” a project partnering the Lebanese Organization of Studies and Trainings and their German partners ForumZFD and completed its second community project in the city of Bednayel.
Friday December the 4th, 2015 representatives from ForumZFD,  LOST members, guests and potential workgroup participants gathered to applaud the efforts of the community coming together to help improve the services provided by the municipality in order to improve the village in general and help reduce tensions between both the Lebanese host community and the Syrian refugees.
President of LOST Dr. Ramy Lakkis gave a brief introduction about the mission of LOST. Working with people, particularly women and youth to create a more developed and equitable society through reducing poverty, eliminating exclusion, and fostering a culture of peace. Dr. Lakkis highlighted the importance of activating the coordination between local and international society so they can respond for the needs of the community because of the huge influx of the Syrian refugees.
Project coordinator and community activist in Bednayel, Malak Ashaal, after a series of training in conflict resolution, conflict transformation and needs analysis, and in compliance with the municipality request, found out that a crane would be very helpful for the municipality. Ashaal emphasized the importance of such initiatives hoping to transform conflict into joint decision-making and comprehensive communication skills in the social atmosphere between Syrian refugees and the host community.
This initiative is the second of four initiatives in the Baalbek-Hermel region in cooperation with ForumZFD and the municipalities to change struggle into joint decision making and ease the social climate between the displaced Syrians and the hosting Lebanese society.

A Yearning for Learning: LOST opens doors to Improved Classrooms in Maarabun

Saturday November 28th, 2015 the Lebanese Organization of Studies and Trainings opened the doors to the newly renovated classrooms for the children of the town of Maarabun. This initiative is part of the small community project LOST engages in to give back to the community.

President of LOST, Ramy Lakkis, the Mayor of Maarabun, the Director and teachers of Maarabun’s official school, along with the parents and children gathered to celebrate the finished product of improved classrooms for the preschool and kindergarten students. The kids ages three to six, couldn’t sit still in their seats and were exuberant about getting to be the first to use the new equipment in the refurbished rooms.
Before LOST intervened in fixing the classroom for the toddlers, the rooms were a chaotic destruction. LOST rehabilitated the walls, painted them a friendly color, installed carpeting on the floors, and furnished the room with tables and chairs. With the new fixtures, the kids are more motivated to learn and more comfortable in the academia scene.

By implementing small community projects that greatly impact the morale of the people LOST aims to enhance the quality of life in Lebanon.

Winterization in Bekaa

The Lebanese Organization of Studies and Trainings (LOST) with their Canadian partner, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) and Global Affairs Canada (DFATD), started their first day in the distribution of space heaters December 2nd, 2015 for needy Syrian Refugee families and vulnerable Lebanese. More than 4,000 individuals will be receiving aid for the harsh cold months to come.
In their project "Winterization and Shelter Assistance for Syrian Refugees and Vulnerable Communities in Baalbek-Hermel, Lebanon", a team of field officers go around to refugee camps and assess their living conditions. Based on a set criteria and a resilience test, that measures the needs of the family, and a reassessment of their living conditions, LOST is able to provide what the families need.
For the past month, LOST associates were out in the field gathering information. This winterization initiative is providing assistance through distributing space heaters, fuel, heavy blankets for warmth and by weatherproofing the tents and homes that need it.

LOST Assists The Lebanese Red Cross

"Future Together Now" a project partnering the Lebanese Organization of Studies and Trainings and their German partners ForumZFD completed its first community project in the city of Baalbek.
Thursday November 19th, 2015 10 Red Cross Volunteers dressed in their neon orange attire, along with representatives from ForumZFD, LOST members, guests and potential workgroup participants gathered to applaud the efforts of the community coming together to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with LOST and celebrate the donation of a Respirator Kit, a Vacuum Mattress and a Regulator. The Lebanese Red Cross Volunteers were thankful for the aid from LOST and ForumZFD.

The project in coordination with ForumZFD focuses on easing tensions between the Syrian Refugee and the Lebanese citizen. It aims in reaching a social inclusion for both sides in joint decision making and non-violent conflict transformation through having Community Activists. Each area has its own CA. In Baalbek the CA, Jad Choubassi, was responsible for finding a mechanism that will thrive to ease and benefit Syrian and Lebanese citizens.
After taking trainings in Conflict Analysis, Conflict Transformation, and Needs Analysis, Jad Choubassi saw that health access is difficult for Syrian Refugees and vulnerable Lebanese. Services like the Lebanese Red Cross, a non-profit organization, aid people without judgment and criteria requirements. The Lebanese Red Cross is more readily available to helping persons in need but has a shortage of supplies in order to do a superb job.
This initiative is one of four initiatives in the Baalbek-Hermel Region under the title of the project "Future Together Now" aiming to transform conflict into joint decision-making and comprehensive communication skills in the social atmosphere between Syrian refugees and the host community.

LOST Plants A Green Initiative in Yamuni

 "Yamuni Goes Green" is an initiative led by the Lebanese Organization for Studies and Trainings (LOST) and UNICEF aiming at raising awareness of environmental protection through workshops, door-to-door discussions, cleanliness campaigns, and hands on implementation.
LOST recruited six trainers from the village of Yamuni to train them on communication skills, municipal work, green techniques, needs assessments and surveying. After completing the workshops, LOST built the capacity of the townspeople by using door-to-door techniques to spread information. The trainers from LOST went door to door with brochures designed during the workshops and talked to the people of Yamuni one by one about environmental problems in the village. The trainers along with some volunteers also took surveys categorized by age groups; 20-25, 25-45 and 45 plus, to take into account the opinions, problems and concerns of the people. LOST conducted a total of 180 surveys and found out that the main problem; aside from the condemnable feelings of dissatisfaction, is the same throughout: water contamination and pollution. Based on results from questionnaire the trainers as well as LOST will implement Green initiative before the end of the year.

This past Tuesday, November 17th, LOST organized an opening ceremony in Yamuni under the auspices of Bashir Khodr, Governor of Baalbek-Hermel. Key stakeholders, village people, LOST representatives and UNICEF senior delegation attended to support this up and coming initiative. But before the kickoff of the launching event; LOST and the townspeople celebrated accomplishments of their own.

Sunday November 8, 2015, LOST project coordinators and associates along with more than 150 townspeople made up of Syrian and Lebanese youth, children, men and women, rich or poor gathered to clean up the main water stream of their town.
In Yamuni, this green initiative to preserve the environment and is led by local youth, volunteers and the townspeople. The day of the clean-up, the townspeople and key stakeholders were more than enthusiastic that they gathered their own groups and equipment and aided. A Syrian resident of Yamuni, Hassan Assef, came with his family and a tractor to take the trash from one place to another. Yaseen Chraif, another resident in Yamuni took care of the cost of dumpsters that will dispose of the trash. Another resident, Shalaan Chraif, rented an excavator for 80 dollars an hour, to scoop up dead trees and larger items of debris from the ground and from the river. The townspeople have passion for their village despite their attitudes towards each other and now with the knowledge of green technique and importance of keeping a clean environment, they are more willing to help in the coming processes.
Yamuni is made up a large tribal family line, Chraif, but there are more than 20 different bloodlines within the same family line. The different bloodlines in this area can't stand one another and are always blaming each other for the problems in their town. 
Given the circumstances it is unbelievable that a large number of people engaged in cleaning up, especially considering the lack of a municipality in Yamuni to regulate such activities. LOST's associates positive outlook and energy saw this as a way to start mending the relationships between everyone in town. LOST started a social cohesion campaign.
LOST associates and volunteers then invited a representation from each bloodline to a dinner.  The diverse mindsets were able to gather over dinner and discuss communal issues at large without judgment. These representatives became the committee in the town. They placed their personal problems aside and concluded that working together to solve a problem in order to enhance their town wouldn’t cause any harm and will only benefit everyone. The people of Yamuni went from being an idle community and staring at the problem at hand to becoming an active community and engaging with each other to tackle it.
An established trust between LOST and the townspeople was created when the people saw that LOST's presence was unbiased and the intention was to help everyone. The villagers now just wanted to be involved in one way or the other, to fix the problem. For those villagers who had money, they donated supplies to the town and for those who couldn’t donate supplies, they donated their time. Whole families came out to support the cleaning initiative of their town. The energy between the people flipped from negative to positive after LOST convened by Social Cohesion and participatory techniques.

Yamuni is known to attract locals and tourists with its remote peaceful location and family friendly parks strategically placed around natural rivers, waterfalls, and springs. Like other places in Lebanon LOST intends to support the natural environment and its need to be preserved and clean. In supporting the environment, the living standards of the people will be enhanced and relationships will be promoted.

LOST and KAS hold a motivational seminar to promote Women's Role in Society

Friday December 4th, 2015, Head of the Lebanese organization of Studies and Trainings (LOST), Doctor Ramy Lakkis, Representatives from Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS), Peter Rimmele and Hana Nasser, along with 80 women participants from the project "Promoting Women’s Role in Political Participation in Baalbek” gathered at LOST Headquarters in Baalbek to hear Lamia El-Husseini speak about her experience as a women in a man's' world.
"Promoting Women's Role in Political Participation in Baalbek" is an initiative giving women the tools needed to indulge in all levels of society; from politics to community service. This movement is to foster social change and increase the engagement of women in everyday decision making.

Peter Rimmele, the German resident representative for KAS and head of the rule of law program in the Middle East, gave a short speech on the importance of being active in the community. Rimmele said, "The sky is the limit for the women of Baalbek". Rimmele emphasized the importance for women to take advantage of the rights they have. Being engaged in the community will benefit the community; women should be part of the joint-decision making process that aids in the development of society. He said, "We don't want all of you to be Angela Merkel, but the opportunities to make a difference in your society are there and ready for you to grasp; be part of the public affairs in your community".
Regional Head of Education in Baalbek-Hermel, Lamia El-Husseini, agreed with Rimmele and added that equal rights for women should be considered nothing less than basic human rights. Husseini said women in Lebanon and internationally have been successful business women, doctors, reporters, and have managed to fit their societal roles as mothers and wives. Society should not define how far women go in life.
So many women have suffered from sexist views and the double-standards imposed upon women to conform to. So many have been denied their basic human rights of getting an education, working and even participating in public affairs due to the patriarchal mindset  that the outside world is made only for men. What's most disheartening is when women buy into the ideas that men are dominant over women, allowing the system to define their roles, and raising their daughters with the skewed ideologies.  Husseini said upbringing impacts the future mindset of the children. When raising boys and girls, they both need to know from a young age that they are equal and have a place in society.
"We should only wear the roles defined by us, not by society", Husseini said.