Akroum: a success story of social stability, against all odds

Heba Rachrach Ⓒ UNDP 2015

A traditional celebration of authentic Lebanese music and percussions opened a festive day at Ajyal High school, in Kfartoun village, located in Akroum mountains area in the Northern part of Lebanon.

With the support of the UNDP “Peace Building in Lebanon” project, Akroum Socio-Cultural Committee gathered on Sunday 14th of June, 2015 around 400 students, teachers, mayors and municipal council members from the 5 villages of Akroum area to celebrate the official launch of the committee and the monitor. Aiming at supporting local communities in observing violations of human rights and tensions, this monitor aims at taking preventive actions to limit negative practices.

During the event, the goals of the committee and its role in fostering peace at the local level and dialogue between Lebanese and Syrians were communicated.

A joyful atmosphere was spread around the school and between citizens and refugees who rarely enjoy similar moments lately. Lebanese and Syrian students participated in a cultural competition organized by the committee and included Quran and poetry citing, creative writing and public speaking skills.

“I enjoyed telling everyone my story through this poem, but I wish to go back home” said Yasmin Khaled, 9 year old student from Syria as she walks down from the stage after reciting a poem of her choice.

Rayan Abou Ali, 16 year old Lebanese student was also happy to participate in the competition and address the wide audience.“This event was a chance for us to shine and alter the stereotypes around our Akroum” he said.

“In hopes of reviving our cultural background and Arabic language in an era where our youth knows so little about it, we wanted to help change this fact and motivate our students to read and write more and get in touch with our rich culture”, said Mr. Walid Khalifeh, teacher and Akroum socio-cultural committee member. “We gathered Lebanese and Syrian students through teamwork and participation in common activities” he added, “even if on a small scale”.

The UNDP “Peace Building in Lebanon” project believes in the capacities of local leaders and local actors, when it comes to dealing with social and local issues like the impact of the Syrian crisis on host communities.

In this context, the project in partnership with “BRD — Beyond Reform and Development” and with the financial support of the Department for International Development (DFID) and the UNHCR has been providing technical and logistical assistance through training and coaching, since September 2014, to socio-cultural and socio-economic committees not only in Akkar, but also in the Bekaa and South Lebanon that were established to address challenges and conflicts, and as part of Mechanisms for Social Stability.

Mr. Ahmad Hassan from Akroum Committee explained that: “Our role as a committee is to support the municipalities of Akroum in collecting and tracking delicate information related to social problems, common spaces violation, domestic violence, child labor and others”.

The Akroum municipal committee represents five ‪municipalities and members from different social groups; teachers, businessmen, Sheikhs, and professionals. “Representing various social categories will help us validate our true collectivity and team work that pours into the good of everyone in our area” explains Mr. Khaled Nohman.

“We had many turnovers and many people dropped out of the committee, but the positive feedback from our community after every activity is always enough to keep us going and get over those difficulties”, concluded Mr. Talal Al Fahel, Akroum socio-cultural committee member, speaking of some obstacles faced during the early stages of the committees constitution.

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