Local Civil Society Organisation Bridges the Gap through a One Day Rally Event in South Mount Lebanon

More than 170 youngsters from Aley and neighboring towns teamed up to compete in a one-day Bicycle Rally organized by new civil society organization, Khota Ashabab. Selected to be part of the Youth Community Empowerment Program (YCEP) implemented by IREX Europe and funded by the British government, Khota Ashabab received a small grant for the implementation of its project United…Never Again Divided.

The Rally held on August 9, 2009 was designed as a contribution toward bridging the gaps remaining in the aftermath of the Lebanese civil war. Although they had lived peacefully alongside each other for years, Christians and Druze of the region became both displaced and distrustful during the conflict. Khota Ashabab devised the project United…Never Again Divided to help youth in the region overcome their fear of one another and learn more about the collective memories their ancestors shared before the war.

For the Rally, 170 youngsters from a range of cultural backgrounds teamed up and competed side by side, biking along the roads of South Mount Lebanon. This allowed them to learn more about their villages, whilst answering riddles and questions related to the area’s history and its cultural importance. In this way, the youth could learn more about their region, and enjoy a full day with people they thought they could never get along with because of their differing religious and political background.

“I never thought I could have this much fun just biking in my native village and spending time with people I thought I had nothing in common with. This event helped me view the others in a different way and helped me to remember how peaceful this part of Lebanon used to be before the war and how our ancestors used to enjoy the company of their neighbors, regardless of their religious background”.

Khota Ashabab implements trainings and youth activities with technical assistance from IREX Europe to maximize the impact of the Youth Community Empowerment Programme. The project is supported by the Strategic Programme Fund of the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office.

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