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 Lebanese and Palestinian communities, as well as within those communities, can be observed. The collective resentments related to the civil war, and the outbreaks of direct violence such as the May 2007 events in Nahr el Bared camp in North Lebanon, 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 ARCPA has engaged in addressing the root causes of the problem described above on two tracks. First by engaging the Lebanese and Palestinian 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 and Lebanese 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 activities within the Conflict Transformation Program were:
- How to Enhance the Role of Children and Youth as Conflict Mediators – Summer Encounter 2008 & North of Lebanon December 2008
- Self-Portrait Workshop
- Conflict as a Challenge Workshop, North of Lebanon- November 2007
- Conflict as a Challenge TOT Workshop, Summer Encounter 2007
ARCPA/ AL JANA organized a series of film screening for the local community in various locations in Palestinian gatherings and camps, and in Lebanese marginalized areas. The film screenings were held in public areas accessible to the audience. Films made by children and youth are screened and followed by a discussion. The films address the importance of media as a mean of expression. The screenings encounter get a positive response among the audience since they introduce new topics for them to explore.
Conflict as a Challenge Publication
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/ARCPA 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 ARCPA/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.