Conflict Transformation Program

One of the main victims of an extended period of violence is the people’s capacity of positive conflict transformations: persons and communities that have been continuously surrounded by and submerged in hostilities tend to start considering violence as the “normal” and the only way of conflict resolution. Furthermore, individual and collective reticence, prejudice and stereotypes develop, and are being transmitted from adults to young generations. At the inter-communities’ level, the problem is usually additionally fostered by a decrease in communication and interactions, resulting in more resentment and the de-humanization of the other.

Applied to a Lebanese context, the high level of structural and cultural violence (such as physical and psychological barriers, exclusion, discrimination, animosity, prejudice, stereotypes) between the Lebanon’s various communities. The collective resentments related to the civil war, and the ongoing outbreaks of direct violence, are additionally feeding into the vicious circle of violence, which will continue to produce more violence unless a deliberate effort is made in transforming the culture of violence towards the culture of respecting diversity and developing cooperation.

In line with its mission and vision, over the past years AL-JANA has engaged in addressing the root causes of the problem described above on two tracks. First by engaging the Palestinian, Lebanese and Syrian organizations, associations and individuals in joint activities (such as spring festivals, film screenings and festivals, summer forums and training workshops), providing opportunities for the youth of all communities to get to know each other, interact and collaborate. And second by organizing training workshops focusing on conflict transformation and related issues, addressed to Palestinian, Lebanese and Syrian facilitators working with children.

The people who live and suffer through the consequences of violence ultimately deserve to be the architects of the changes required to improve their lives on the ground. Enhancing the capacities of local people in their struggle for peaceful social change is crucial. The aim of this project is to bring together these people, in addition to other key players, and to place them in an environment where they can contemplate new ideas and innovative alternatives so that the potential for different futures becomes a realistic option. The workshops, performances/discussions and Summer Encounter all embody processes of learning and change. Also, the learning that will take place in these contexts can create ripple-effects in the larger social fabric.

Some of the projects within the Conflict Transformation Program are:

  • Conflict as a challenge Publication

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A resource book under the title of “Conflict as a challenge: enhancing children’s capacities of constructive conflict transformation” was produced and distributed by AL-JANA in 2009. A training on the resource is conducted with the aims of empowering the animators and social workers of organizations and association on how to effectively use this manual in their daily work with youth and children.

This workbook was prepared by a facilitator specialized in the field of conflict transformation, and provides a brief insight for educators into the dynamics of conflict and its transformation, and is followed by a series of practical tools (e.g. games, role plays and all sorts of other activities) that aid children & youth in better understanding the conflicts that make part of their daily life and in becoming an active part in their constructive management and transformation. The publication which is printed in Arabic, is largely based on the experiences of training and practices of conflict transformation activities within Palestinian and Lebanese NGOs, working with marginalized communities in Lebanon supported by AL-JANA in 2006 and 2007.

In addition, a special project, “Away from Home Again”, was devised to respond to the situation resulting from the May 2006 clashes in Nahr EL-Bared Camp. It empowered the children of Nahr El-Bared camp to reflect on experiences of displacement and document their creative activities.

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  • Support to Extra-Curricular Activities through Enhancing Social Cohesion and Communication among Public Schools in Greater Beirut Region

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The project aimed at enhancing social and psychological support programs as well as conflict transformation at public schools. It included the following interventions:

  • Theater and Educational Performances. Two interactive plays were performed for youth and followed by facilitated discussions. The first interactive play “Someone Listen to Me” used theater as a tool to engage the pupils to explore, analyze and transform the reality in which they are living through focusing on ways to deal with differences and work on “fitting in” when you are “different”. The second interactive play “Nos Nses” utilized humor to captivate and hold the attention of pupils while tackling issues of interest, problems faced by this age group, and possible solutions.

  • Film Screenings and Discussion: film screenings were organized for the benefit of youngsters; at the public schools’ premises and outside theatres. The films screened dealt with issues of conflict that face young people in various parts of the world and how people react to them. Topics screened and discussed included violence at schools, immigration, racism, religious differences. Facilitated discussions were held after each screening session through which the audience shared opinions and exchanged experiences.

  • Film-Making Workshops: A media workshop was organized for four groups of youth from the selected schools to produce four films of their own. The aim of these workshops was to engage youth of marginalized areas in media activities that would allow their freedom of expression and their mental and intellectual development, thus preparing them to be agents of change within their societies. By combining youth from different schools in one workshop, collaboration between the schools was supported and mutual understanding and tolerance promoted. The output of this activity was 4 films produced by the youth.

  • Training of Trainers: The TOT aimed at developing the participants’ understanding of conflict and the way to constructively transform it.

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  • Transforming Shadows: A Youth Exchange Project Between Ireland and Lebanon on Conflict Transformation

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As we experience a vast division between communities, and as people are increasingly discriminated against because of who they are, or where they come from. The Transforming Shadows project tackled this issue using non-formal youth work practice, and art as a tool for critical social engagement.

Twelve young adults (aged 20-30) from diverse cultural, social and religious backgrounds from Ireland and Lebanon worked together on the Transforming Conflict project over 10 months, including a full week residential in Beirut, Lebanon. (6 from Ireland and 6 from Lebanon) from: Syria, Palestine, Ghana, Nigeria, South Sudan, rural Ireland and Dublin city. They developed key messages to impart to youth leaders and to empower other young change makers.

Participants present their key messages here as video resources and a companion activity pack.

The project was led by Al-Jana, the National Youth Council of Ireland in partnership with Lebanon. It was supported by the Anna Lindh Foundation. Project partners in Ireland: Bluebell Youth Service and Rialto Youth Project.

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