U.S. Ambassador Recognizes Lebanon Community Resilience Initiative

U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon, Elizabeth Richard, praised the commitment of youth to drive positive change in their communities after visiting MARCH, a Lebanese NGO promoting conflict resolution and peacebuilding through the performing arts among youth in Tripoli.

With support from MSI and the USAID Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI), MARCH worked with youth from two rival neighborhoods in Tripoli to craft an interactive play about their daily lives and struggles. The play and subsequent documentary, Love and War on the Rooftops, toured Lebanon and were met with standing ovations all over the country.

The international success of this work allowed MARCH to leverage funding for the construction of the Ahwetna Café, a dual purpose coffee house and performance venue situated on Syria Street, the former frontline for clashes between rival neighborhoods in Tripoli. With support from MSI and USAID/OTI, the Ahwetna Café now provides youth workforce development training in hospitality management, bookkeeping, inventory management, marketing, and graphic design.

MARCH’s youth performers welcomed the U.S. delegation to Ahwetna Café with food, break dancing and free style performances. Ambassador Richard reaffirmed the U.S. Embassy’s commitment to continue investing in the youth of Lebanon.

USAID/OTI’s Lebanon Community Resilience Initiative program aims to capitalize on windows of opportunity to strengthen resilience in Lebanese communities so they can more effectively cope with destabilizing factors of the Syrian crisis. Started in September 2014 and ending in September 2017, the program seeks to strengthen the most vulnerable Lebanese host communities by promoting peaceful alternatives to violence and reducing marginalization and isolation of community groups. USAID/OTI strengthens youth empowerment and civic participation, increases moderate space, and supports moderate actors. Together, these outcomes promote increased resiliency and community stability.

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