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Changing Tires, Building Lasting Peace in Lebanon

In Lebanon, the Youth Network for Civic Activism is teaching young people about conflict resolution, political engagement, and leadership skills through activities with a creative focus. Their efforts are changing the landscape of their region and getting attention worldwide.

For Lebanon’s Youth Network for Civic Activism (YNCA), tires are more than transportation. They are fast becoming a symbol of peace in a region of Lebanon traditionally dominated by Hezbollah.

During the civil war that ravaged the country from 1975 to 1990 and in the tumultuous years since, tires were often burned in protest. Today, however, the brightly colored tires serve as tables, chairs, flower pots, and bookshelves, placed there by the YNCA to provide a place for conversations for the people of Nabatieh.

And this innovative activity has not only attracted the attention of the community. Tim Hume of CNN interviewed the YNCA’s leaders as part of their Inside the Middle East series.

Read the full story on CNN's website.

“When people first see the tires, they laugh and say 'Wow, are you planning to burn them?'" Layla Serhan, one of the organizers of the project, told CNN through a translator. "But then they would sit and talk, and ask us to do more all over the town. Because we don't need more burning -- we need something beautiful, something that brings happiness."

The YNCA started four years ago with the goal of engaging struggling young people after Lebanon’s 2006 conflict with Israel. The group operates out of the country’s Hezbollah-dominated south and uses art to offer youth opportunities other than sectarianism.

The tires are just one of YNCA’s efforts to provide a safe place for youth – traumatized by war and stuck in a political and cultural environment that provided few opportunities – to learn conflict resolution, political engagement, and leadership skills through activities with a creative focus.

To help further their mission, the YNCA has received a grant through USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives Civic Support Initiative (LCSI), which provides small, in-kind grants to organizations working with youth in marginalized and conflict-prone areas.

Being the topic of a CNN news story was definitely kudos for a job well done by the YNCA.

"YNCA has been a model partner in our project that developed from a small unregistered youth group to one of the leading platforms engaging youth in civic activism in south Lebanon," said Nabil Hassan, the advocacy development specialist with the Lebanon Civic Initiative project. ”YNCA represents a unique and creative voice of nonviolence coming from the closed and marginalized area of southern Lebanon."

Through LCSI, Chemonics is partnering with NGOs like YNCA in more than 200 villages and towns to engage youth in building peaceful communities.


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