Future Together Now! I (2014-2017)
The Syrian crisis has affected Lebanon at various levels. There are an estimated 1.5 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon, which implies that Lebanon hosts more refugees in relation to the population than any other country in the world. The war in Syria has been going one since 2011 and the increasing number of refugees in Lebanon has put serious strains on social cohesion and the economy. Fears of a deterioration of the security situation are widespread.
Future Together Now: a project by forumZFD
Against this background, forumZFD is running a project called “Future Together Now”. It aims to establish effective and inclusive local mechanisms for conflict transformation, social inclusion and joint decision-making in five villages/towns in North and Central Beqaa. The project contributes to efforts designed to change the prevailing culture of violence into a culture of dialogue. It helps establish structures for dialogue and introduces methods of non-violent conflict transformation to both host and refugee communities which are thereby empowered.
To this aim, a mechanism for community activism has been established in the villages and towns involved. In a first step, a team of Community Activists (CAs) was set up and trained. Trainings conducted by forumZFD's capacity development team focused on topics such as a conflict transformation, communication, dialogue, negotiation and mediation, community empowerment and team-building. Each training was followed by the Community Activists practically using the skills gained during the trainings to understand local fault lines and the dynamics of political, administrative, social and civil society structures and address local conflicts and needs through appropriate decision-making structures. While planning and implementing projects on the ground, the community activists receive mentoring from forumZFD staff.
At the same time, the forumZFD project team and its partner organisations reached out to key (e.g municipalities, principals, religious leaders) and other actors (local NGOs, students, women, children) as well as people in the wider community of the target locations. A consultation process was held to incorporate the community activism mechanism into the local context, adapted to the changing realities on the ground.
There are many beneficiaries of the project: The partner organisations LOST and Basmeh and Zeitouneh benefit through capacity building and mentoring by forumZFD in the realm of conflict transformation and community mobilisation, joint development of the mechanism as well as joint design and implementation of the pilot project and training.
Activities of partner organisation Basmeh and Zeitouneh
Our partner organisation Basmeh and Zeitouneh is a non-governmental organisation which was established in 2012 by Syrian activists who left Syria for Lebanon after the outbreak of the civil war. The organisation is dedicated to relief, development, and capacity-building of the most marginalised groups of refugees within Lebanon. There are several development projects that aim to revive a sense of dignity among Syrian refugees in the country:
The main focus of the relief programme is to provide assistance and relief for women, orphans and the disabled. Through a strong network of volunteers, they provide regular support to approximately 3,700 families in Beirut and its suburbs and an estimated 780 families in the Bekaa Valley, Arsal and Tripoli.
A women's workshop aims to empower women who currently provide financial support to their families, and to help restore their sense of dignity. Over 70 women are enrolled in the programme and thus able to generate an income as their netted materials (e.g. wallets) are sold both locally and internationally. Furthermore, they attend special training to receive new methods and knowledge about their work.
In addition, the organisation has established a peace education programme for children suffering from trauma as a result of war and displacement. It runs alongside a school programme for Syrian students between the ages of 6-14 years. The school programme is designed specifically for students whose education was disrupted by the conflict. In fact, it provides access to the Lebanese educational curriculum through an accelerated learning programme. A community service programme, whereby Syrians, Lebanese and Palestinians collaborate to enhance the notion of community service and citizenship, has been launched.
By supporting the Community Activists, forumZFD is building their capacity to transform conflicts non-violently, to address local needs in a sustainable way and to establish joint decision-making processes. It is our goal to reduce violence and social exclusion on an individual and socio-political level.
07-15-2016 Finally the truck arrives. It carries brand-new light blue and dark green garbage bins. Alaa talks to the driver and consults with his friends, then, the young men and women divide into groups. Some climb up into the truck, others get in private cars. The trip starts. read more
As part of the project Future Together Now, forumZFD has partnered with the Lebanese Organization for Studies and Training to select and train community activists in various communities in Northern and Central Bekaa in Lebanon. The aim is to enable the community activists to successfully implement activities in their respective communities afterwards that benefit both Lebanese and Syrian communities. read more