Young People Making a Difference

Reported by ANERA The Bekaa Valley was hit hard by the refugee crisis. It accommodates more than 400,00 Syrian refugees, according to recent vulnerability assessment. These Syrian refugees add to a population of poor Lebanese and Palestinians that were already living in the area. Poverty among refugees and the host community encouraged Ziad Araji to team up with fourteen of his friends and acquaintances to start the initiative, ‘Together we stay warm’ (maa baoud ma fi bared), to collect and distribute winter items for vulnerable families. “For one month, we placed boxes for in-kind donations of clothes and shoes in 30 local centers and schools in the village. We sorted, cleaned and repackaged what we received before distributing them to tented settlements for Syrian refugees and needy Lebanese families,” said Ziad. In total, more than 5,000 in-kind winter items were received, and they were then distributed to around 1,000 families from different communities in Bar Elias, Bekaa. The project was applauded in the village, and the mayor accompanied the youth to guide them to poorest tented settlements. “There are around 125,000 Syrian refugees in Bar Elias living in very critical conditions, and families from the host community are living in poor conditions too, given the scarcity of work opportunities,” said Ziad Abdul Ghani, the Mayor of Bar Elias. “Initiatives like these are a great support to families here.” Youth-led activities have encouraged youth to launch similar initiatives to serve their local communities. This is the case in Bar Elias, where Lama Sarout, one of the volunteers in the initiative, suggested a similar project to collect food for poor families