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Young Arab men and women receive training on Youth Volunteerism and partnership building

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05 July 2017
Young Arab men and women receive training on Youth Volunteerism and partnership building
In much of the Arab region undergoing the social, economic and demographic transitions and especially in conflict situations, the civic protection and enhancement of cultural heritage and intellectual tradition is a way to strengthen social cohesion, a sense of belonging, and historical awareness as well as to reinforce identities in the face of a complex and intertwined past and present. Cultural heritage in Iraq and Syria is no exception to the re¬cent intentional destruction, marked by iconoclasm and the persecution of targeted communities. Young men and women, most educated yet often marginalized socially and economically, can play a greater role, if properly equipped and involved, in positioning the culture at the center of public policies.

Against this backdrop, UNESCO Beirut, in collaboration with Makhzoumi Foundation, organized on 4-7 July 2017 a “Regional Training workshop on Youth Volunteerism and partnership building in the Arab Region”, in Byblos, a city rich in cultural heritage. Responding to the open call for participation, a group of 23 young men and women, who are decision-makers in a youth-led or youth-targeted organization, from 7 Arab countries (Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco) were selected out of over 180 applicants to participate and share their experiences with peers in this 4-day regional training workshop.

The workshop focused on the civic protection and enhancement of cultural heritage as a means to build social cohesion, a sense of belonging, and historical awareness, and thus create inclusive societies across the region. The trainers organized group activities through which the participants learnt tools to valorize and communicate about their national cultural heritage, and engage in its defense.

The 4-day training provided a platform to train youth NGOs from the region in “Volunteerism management and partnership building” as a way to tackle development challenges and help shaping the future of their societies. It also offered an opportunity for networking between youth NGOs, allowing them to share their experiences, knowledge and know-how.

During the event, the participants also had the opportunity to attend an exhibition in Aley organized by UNESCO in cooperation with Afaq, a local non-governmental organization, where they witnessed innovative grassroots cultural initiatives undertaken by Syrian youth. Lamba (Light) showcased a number of their work, personalized and tailor-made lamps, modern and antique, revisiting Arabic calligraphy and honoring Arab poets and artists. Mohamad Aloush, a Syrian artist and one of the founders of Lamba said “In addition to the immediate tangible result of being able to start a social venture that in itself is a big achievement, there was a boost of much-needed positive energy that I felt as a result of this program and the dynamism created through interacting with the trainer, UNESCO and with other fellow artists both Lebanese and Syrian.”

The workshop also helped youth NGOs explore ways of collaboration and peer-to-peer work, thus creating a network of youth NGOs active in the promotion of culture heritage through youth mobilization.