Lebanon

Lebanon rapid post-conflict recovery program weekly report 01 - 08 Jun 2007

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News and Press Release
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I. PROTECTION

PSYCHOSOCIAL AND YOUTH ACTIVITIES

Activities complementing cleaning campaign in Baalbek

Mercy Corps and its partner LOST organized a variety of social activities for hundreds of kids in Baalbek including plays in Ras el Ain Park and wall mural activities.

The purpose of the mural is to beautify their city, as well as to encourage children's and teenagers' creativity by allowing their self expression through drawing.

The mural is one of the activities of the clean-up campaign project that Mercy Corps and LOST are carrying out in Baalbek town. The project's activities involve cleaning the pond and river of Baalbek, painting the side walk rails, painting walls and store fronts, distributing bags and distributing stickers on cleanliness. These activities are implemented in a main street called Bchara el Khoury. 447 students from three different schools volunteered in the project.

Mercy Corps also distributed stickers promoting their clean-up campaign in schools and the streets of Baalbek. The stickers are made to encourage cleanliness and can be seen on students' books and car windows all over town.

The goal of this project is not only to clean up the center of town but also to change the behavior and social attitudes about littering in Baalbek. By letting students participate in these activities, they will be encouraged to take an active role in noticing and fixing problems in their communities, as well as be creative in dealing with their town like painting walls by themselves, for example.

Art training in Bourj Hammoud

Eleven members of Borj Hammoud Youth Leadership Center had an art training on June 3, 2007. The youth performed several beautiful drawings that had Mercy Corps staff and the art trainer amazed. A third and final art training session will take place at the end of June. Following that, the youth will perform a mural and exhibit their work. These activities aim at alleviating the stress that most youth have burdened as a result of the summer conflict.

Village Festival in Nabatiye

In the framework of promoting children's rights, ensuring participation and providing entertainment to the communities from ten villages in the caza of Nabatiye, Mercy Corps in partnership with the Kamel Yousef Jaber Social and Cultural Center, organized the last festivals the past weeks in Zefta, Deir Zahrani, Arab Salim, Qsaibe, Jbaa and Ain Qana. A performance on child rights and a school mural painting were amongst the activities that were held. Painting activities were executed on the school fences and gave the main entrance a friendlier look; in case of Ain Qana School - for example - the mural covered political emblems.

In Qsaibe, Taime, a 12 year old girl, showed Mercy Corps a house she painted and explained that "the pink color I decided to use indicates freedom, my biggest dream is to see the world" and symbolically she added to her painting a window, "a window to the world, to information and people" as she clarified. In her life, Taime visited only the villages of Insar and Nabatiye, to see a play at the Kamel Youssef Jaber Social and Cultural Center.

In Jbaa, children also painted the garbage containers that were rusty and old and gave them orange and blue colors.

Approximately 2,500 children from 11 villages benefited from the festivals and their biggest value was that they were implemented in the villages thus increasing the participation and accessibility for poorer children whose families cannot afford the transportation to Nabatiye.

The festivals helped the Kamel Youssef Jaber Social and Cultural Center to gather new volunteers from the villages. For example Ismail, a student attending the last year of secondary school in Roumine accompanied the organizers during all the activities ever since the festival was done at his school. He will be included in the workshop for the summer camp trainers starting next weekend and will help organizing the activities with children this July.

Psychosocial Assistance to Students in Public Secondary Schools in Nabatiye

Mercy Corps, the Kamel Youssef Jaber Social and Cultural Center and the Public School Support Association are implementing activities in public schools in Nabatiye and counseling students who need it the most. The activities aim at assisting secondary students to overcome stress, increase their participation and free expression in addition to encouraging team work.

Due to the examination time, the project is in its closing stages; however it has been decided to keep, during the month of June, three social workers out of 10. The social workers will be available for all the students throughout the exam period, however, 200 student cases have been identified as having problems with passing their exams without the additional support of the Project Coordinator, Dr Sana, explained.