BEIRUT: Building on their commitment to support Lebanese youth, the NGO March, as well as the Jabal el Cheikh Municipalities, in partnership with the Embassy of the Netherlands, facilitated a youth exchange program on Saturday.
Thirty-five youth from Tripoli traveled to Kawkaba and Rachaya to meet 30 youth from those areas.
The aim was to bring together people that would not regularly have the opportunity to hear about each other’s points of view.
They engaged in discussion, planted trees in Kawkaba, visited Rachaya castle, where the independence declaration of Lebanon was signed in 1943, and danced together on the square in front of the castle.
They bonded over a hike on the slopes of Mount Hermon, shared their views during fireplace discussions, and had lunch together.
"This is a fantastic day and it’s my first time that I visit the south. The nature is so beautiful, we should work together to preserve it. We have been warmly welcomed by our peers from Rachaya and the surrounding villages. We made friends and I cannot wait to receive them in Tripoli," Mohamed from Tripoli said.
Ambassador Waltmans was joined by basketball player Fadi Al Khatib who was willing to support the event. His participation allowed youth to share and discuss their views on their future and the future of their country with their role model.
“Our mission is to show that all Lebanese can live together without problems. This is a great message to send to the young generation," Al Khatib said.
In Jabal el Sheikh, near Rachaya, and surrounding municipalities, communities have received Syrian refugees in a hospitable manner. The influx of many refugees had an impact and caused constraints.
With the support of the Dutch Association of Municipalities these municipalities have been able to enhance their capacities and better address the challenges that they encountered.
In addition, over 100 hundred youth agreed to work, particularly during the weekends, to support their villages’ needs. They help the elderly, plant trees and contribute to their environment with cleanup campaigns. The president of the federation of municipalities, Sheikh Saleh, is a catalyst for youth participation.
During visits to different parts of Lebanon, ambassador Jan Waltmans and other Embassy staff members make sure that open discussions are held with a variety of youngsters. At such discussions youth express their concerns about their future in Lebanon.
They openheartedly share concerns about a lack of job opportunities, about corruption, and about not being heard by leaders. Youth from all backgrounds are encouraged to contribute to a better future for Lebanon.
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