School repair in Nabatiye
Mercy Corps has finalized rehabilitating 27 public schools in Nabatiye caza as part of Phase II repairs. Mercy Corps handed over 23 of these schools to the community. The remaining four will be handed over next week, weather permitting. Phase II repairs benefit 7,708 public school children. The total number of beneficiaries for Phase I and II repairs at Nabatiye schools are 10,791 students and staff members.
Psychosocial and Youth Activities
A lot of emphasis has been placed on the psychosocial sector as field assessments have revealed the great psychological and social problems suffered by many youth of the conflict affected areas. Youth in the South and Bekaa are suffering from depression, anxiety, loss of hope and behavioral problems. These symptoms have been reported by many teachers and social workers there; the community pitches and playgrounds will engage youth in positive sports activities that will aid in alleviating part of their stress.
Community pitches in Baalbek
Mercy Corps and its partner the Lebanese Organization for Studies and Training (LOST) completed works on the Douris pitch. The court will be surfaced with epoxy and hoops will be installed by mid May. The professional resurfacing of the Osaira basketball court last week was completed (see picture to the left). The work is ongoing on the Youmouni basketball pitch and is expected to be complete by April 20, 2007. The Iaat Park is open to the public and children were pictured playing on it last week, an official opening is scheduled on April the 22nd at 4:00PM.
Construction of a multi-use playground at Toul's Technical School
Mercy Corps is constructing a multi-use community pitch at Toul Technical School. The engineers resumed work with the return of the good weather, currently preparing the base for the playground. Mercy Corps conducted a visit on the 20th of April to assess the evolution of the project at the school. "I am satisfied with the progress so far!" said the headmaster. The engineers are now ready to cast the concrete.
Baalbek event educating youth on tourist sites of Lebanon Many youth in Lebanon are not acquainted with the geographical diversity and historical richness of Lebanon. For that purpose Mercy Corps, in partnership with LOST held an awareness event for children in Baalbek on the 19th of April. Over 700 students attended the event, where stations were set up showing posters and pictures from different historical and natural wonders around the country. Students visited each station and learned about the history and geography of each area, and a quiz was held at the end of the event to test the knowledge of the students (see success story below).
Children's right contest in Borj el Barajneh
Mercy Corps, the Borj el Barajneh Youth Leadership Center (YLC), and the Borj el Barajneh Social Development Center (SDC) organized a Children Rights Contest on Saturday the 14th of April at the Fourth Borj el Barajneh Public School. 387 children from around 25 public and private schools from Borj el Barajneh participated in the contest. Different grades took a customized exam that questioned their knowledge of their rights. The youth of the YLCs were involved in the logistics of organizing and conducting the event. At the moment, Mercy Corps, Borj el Barajneh Youth Leadership Center, and the Borj el Barajneh Social Development Center are planning to conduct a ceremony at the Borj el Barajneh Municipality to announce the winners of the contest and hand out the certificates and medallions.
Counseling and psychosocial support to public schools in Nabatiye
Mercy Corps, Kamel Youssef Jaber Social and Cultural Center and the Public School Support Association started a series of activities for ten public secondary school students in Nabatiye Caza. Ten social workers will assist students that were psychosocially affected by the war in their relationship with their schoolmates, teachers and their parents. The project provides activities to students in art, sport, drama, journalism and dance while allowing social workers to attend and conduct individual and group counseling to the affected students.
During the past two weeks, social workers started interacting with the students and reported in the weekly meeting that the youth in the south are pre-occupied with the possibility of another war. The students mostly felt misunderstood by adults; several cases of girls were unhappy due to the conservative culture in their communities leaving them with 'limited freedom'. In some schools, classes are overcrowded, and students are overall hopeless and lack motivation to study.
In every school visited, Mercy Corps team could see a social worker talking to a student in the playground, or with all the class when they had a free hour. The goal of these discussions is to discover if any person needs assistance, since students can't express themselves easily and might find it hard to confess to people that can judge them like their family or contacts. The social workers declared that after only a few days of meetings, the students are today more receptive, and trust them as much as they do their friends. Mercy Corps team spoke to headmasters, they all have a positive impression on how the project is growing, and on the consequences it will have on the students' future behavior. They all thanked Mercy Corps for the interesting activities that are being held in their schools, and expect to see the students' emotions alleviated.
Next week, the professionals will start the different artistic and educative activities with interested students, under Mercy Corps' continuous monitoring.