|© UNICEF Lebanon/2007|
|A UNICEF-sponsored camp gives young people in Lebanon a chance to get to know people from different backgrounds.|
By Eliane Asmar
KFAREMAN, Lebanon, 10 October 2007 – At a UNICEF-supported camp here in south Lebanon this summer, 150 young people from different backgrounds and religions gathered to discuss their differences and develop the skills to resolve them.
Funded by UNICEF and organized with Aid Lebanon-Civil Campaign for Relief, a non-governmental organization, the camp taught leadership skills and democracy as well as raising awareness about human rights and environmental protection. Its overall purpose: to foster peace and tolerance in a region marked by conflict and displacement.
“Lebanese youth need to unite to overcome the great challenges that confront them, and to promote the principles of citizenship,” said camp manager Abass Abu Zeid. “Real interaction and integration was created here. Young people learned not only to understand others but to accept them as well.”
Challenging prejudices and fears
Participants attending 10-day sessions at the camp were instructed in conflict management, peace building, communication and advocacy.
Each camp session offered young people the opportunity to explore their leadership qualities. They attended seminars and engaged in structured workshops and dialogues with professionals and activists. They also got to challenge their prejudices and fears.
“First, I had apprehensions about meeting new people and living with them – but when I came here all barriers were broken, and I met great people from different religions,” said Ahmad Taha, a young Palestinian from the Nahr el Bared refugee camp in northern Lebanon, which was largely destroyed in recent fighting.
Confidence and courage
“I learned a lot from the exercises we did. It gave me great confidence and a lot of courage,” said Malak Sbaity, another camper.
On the last day of the summer camp, participants exchanged hugs and shed tears. They went home with pleasant memories and more friends – along with a commitment to effect positive change and build a more peaceful society.
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