“I am taking part in the activities because I like football and it gives me the opportunity to avoid working at home”. (Kamal, 12 years old)
“I enjoy participating in the program because it is the only time I can leave the camp and meet new people”. (Rajaa, 15 years old)
These are only a few of the reasons why the children and young adults are participating in the activities: most of them want to have fun and spent a good time with their friends while they meet new people at the same time. The girls and boys are also happy to learn from the coaches, and to meet young people of different social or religious backgrounds.
The objective of the program is to combine sport and play with the learning of social competences and also to create a platform for inter-religious dialogue. At the end of the sport games and play activities a 10 minute dialogue and discussion is held- the themes and topics differ from time to time, according to the participants’ wishes.
At the moment far more than 100 children from three different schools from southern Beirut and from a Palestinian refugee camp regularly take part in the extra curricula activities. The participants not only enjoy the activities and games very much, the coaches also observed changes in behaviour. At the beginning some of the kids were very aggressive towards the coaches and amongst each other.
Another important observation which could be made over the past year concerns the relationship between the participants and the coaches. During the past year the role of the coaches changed radically: at the beginning they were treated as teachers, with distance and sometimes even suspicion. The weekly reports of the coaches and interviews with the participants show the change in perception: the coaches have become important role models and attachment figures in the participants’ lives, and the children and young adults even share their personal and intimate problems with their coaches. A special kind of friendship developed between the coaches and the children.
In addition to the traditional Monitoring and Evaluation tools which serve at getting an insight into the ongoing activities and to gain scientifically important results, a participative photo monitoring was introduced. The participants get the opportunity to take pictures of the activities and define their choice of three. “My pictures reflect the team spirit, the collaboration and the way the participants respect the rules during the activities,” says 15 year old Georges. 16 year old Nidal says, her pictures “Reflect the harmony among coaches and participants”. The change in behaviour, the motivation for joining the activities and the relationship towards the coaches can be seen in the pictures taken and the explanations given.
The ongoing political tension and violent conflicts in Lebanon create an unstable environment for the young generation. The insecurity as well as the dangerous and difficult living conditions makes the project and its activities even more important than ever. For most of the participants the hours spent with the project are some of the few moments in which they can forget about problems and sorrows and just enjoy themselves and have fun with their friends.