The First Step Association for Children with Special Needs (FISTA), in collaboration with the RESTART center for the rehabilitation of violence and torture victims concluded the “Inspire, empower and transform: increasing resilience of disadvantaged communities in Tripoli” project, in the framework of AFKAR 3 program, funded by the European Union and managed by the Office of the Minister of State for Administrative Reform on December 14, 2018 at Safadi Cultural Center.
This event was held under the patronage of the Minister of State for Administrative Reform, Dr. Inaya Ezzeddine, represented by AFKAR program manager, Mrs. Youmna Chacar Ghorayeb. The ceremony was attended by Colonel Bahaa Samad, representing the General Director of Internal Security, General Imad Osman, Major Ali Ayoubi , representing the General Director of General Security, General Abbas Ibrahim, Mr. Khaled el Wali, representing the mayor of Tripoli, as well as experts in mental health and protection of children, representing national and local organizations, and beneficiaries from the project.
In her speech, Mrs. Ghorayeb said that expanding the margin of targeted groups to include women, children and young people, with a focus on people with special needs, is an important challenge that requires the commitment of specialists to reach the expected results. She pointed out that the importance of the impact and sustainability of the project can only be completed if there is a big cooperation and networking between the various stakeholders. She also focused on the small grants activity of the emerging societies, which gave them the opportunity to develop their capacities in developing projects according to international standards. This activity added to the project a set of activities and programs and contributed to attract a large number of beneficiaries.
Mrs. Suzanne Jabbour, Director of the Restart Center and founding member of FISTA, highlighted the importance of the project and its positive impact on beneficiaries. She stressed the need to maintain the continuity of the achievements initiated by the program, in cooperation with other associations and international organizations, especially strategies for the protection of children who are involved or at risk of being involved in armed violence.
UNICEF's representative, Mr. Luca Travengnan, noted that the percentage of children and young people involved in armed violence is very high. He called the governement to take the necessary decisions aiming to contribute to the protection of this category of children, through the promulgation of policies and regulations, as well as to amend some laws.
The expert on human rights and international and national strategies, Dr. Elie Mikhael, wished that the stakeholders concerned by the protection of children in Lebanon be inspired from this experience in the north and to build on it, in order to avoid duplication and to achieve the most important goal, which is to develop a national plan to protect this targeted group.
Captain Karim Mourad highlighted the importance of the partnership between civil society and lawyers, as well as the impact of this initiative and the need of sustainability. He added that the state went beyond its traditional role as a police to become a state of protection and care.
During the ceremony, two films were presented, one explaining the achievements of the project and the other stating success stories of people who benefited from the project "Inspire, empower and transform". They expressed the positive results of the project on their mental health and their positive impact on changing their lives.
At the end of the event, the participants visited an exhibition of handicraft and wood products prepared by FISTA children and youth with special needs, which lasted for two days at the Safadi Cultural Center.