It is hard to quantify the magnitude of problems that face Lebanon today. Our country is facing one of the worst financial crises since the 1800s with citizens witnessing scarcity in basic necessities such as food, water, medicine, fuel and electricity. Prices of commodities have tripled and theft in cities has increased. Children’s future is now uncertain.
Healthcare and quality education are unaffordable to many citizens now. Everyday, we queue for hours on end, desperate to secure some of the little resources left. The inadequacy of commodities creates desperation and unrest. These are hard and stressful times for us. We fear the current status might spike conflicts.
Coupled by the current COVID-19 pandemic that has impacted all aspects of our daily lives, the Lebanese pound is now loosing its value in this already worsening crisis. Poor governance, powered by incompetence and systemic corruption has crippled the leadership structure with no arm of the government demonstrating competence to lead the country. I fear that the current leadership structure may not have a plan to safeguard the future of our youth and children.
Cases of child abuse have also increased. Incidents of child labour and child sexual abuse have been reported in closed quarters with perpetrators going scot-free due to lack of effective policing structure to hold them accountable. The situation is not good.
There is still hope for the country. An interesting thing about Lebanon is that it has young equipped minds to bring new change, and people are strongly coming out to demand for change, for a better life for themselves and generations to come. Faith leaders and peace initiatives are helping calm the masses. They are working with NGOs to reach out to the public and addressing the situation. They are also putting to task the government to create solutions for the current challenge and carter to the underprivileged communities.
More specific, GNRC partner Annas Linnas is sensitizing and encouraging youth and children to abstain from gang groups and violence. The organization is planning to conduct 5 workshops in August-September 2021 for 25 children and youth ambassadors aged between 14-18 years in 5 different regions. During this period, the organization will deploy the Learning to Live Together Manual, a toolkit aimed at imparting good values, discipline and peaceful conflict resolution practices. The workshops will be guided by the GNRC Panama Declaration specifically commitment number 1 and 6 on Listening to children with empathy and respect, welcome their wisdom and gifts, and continue to work side-by-side to address violence against them; and Strengthening local communities by offering education in positive parenting and ethical values to help families and children develop empathy, become more resilient, and grow spiritually.
Annas Linnas is currently utilizing Arigatou International resources, including the COVID-19 response materials, to educate and address the economic crisis that affects other elements of development. They are sensitizing the community on what they can do to build their economies and protect their families and interests. Through these small steps, I believe Lebanon can be restored gradually to its original self and, children and their dreams become protected.