There is a little of wind, a little of sun and a whole lot of laughs and excitement on this Saturday afternoon for the opening of Sin el Fil’s sports and youth spaces.
It is 3:50 pm; A Dj is filling the air with joyful music, children are playing on the swings, parents are watching their children while having little chitchats, Sin el Fil’s municipality members and mayors arriving one after another, World Vision staff and youth municipal council members are putting final touch on the event. Today Sin el Fil will officially have sports and youth spaces open to the public. “These spaces saw the light after two years of hard work,” Declares Cynthia Bakkalian, Youth Municipal Council spokesperson, adding “We conducted a need assessment among the residents of Sin el Fil, and they highlighted the need for public spaces. And we worked with World Vision and the municipality of Sin el Fil to make this project happen.”
It all started in 2015, when World Vision Lebanon reached out to 15 young men and women from the small city of Sin el Fil in the Northern Suburb of Beirut, as part of its development strategy and youth participation goal. World Vision targeted these youth with a series of workshops and training on leadership, management, public speaking, lobbying… in order to form a Youth Municipal Council [YMC] part of Sin el Fil’s municipality.
Located in the northern suburb of Beirut, Sin el Fil is struggling with lack of development opportunities and weak infrastructure, leading to tension between communities, in addition to emerging social issues. With a poor infrastructure and the absence of public spaces, young people constantly feel frustrated, marginalized and exposed to drugs, sexual harassment and low level of security. “It is very important for us as youth to take part of the municipality and to put our ideas on the table,” Says Bakkalian, “Youth voices should be heard, in order to create a healthier environment for our communities.”
Today, the Youth Municipal Council is an integral part of the municipal work in Sin el Fil.
After conducting a needs assessment among the local communities of this city, the YMC highlighted the need for public spaces and worked with the municipality and World Vision Lebanon to rehabilitate two sports court open for the youth and the general public of Sin el Fil. “Municipalities cannot respond to the youth issues without engaging directly with them. We should not assume that we know the youth needs more than they do, and for that their role is very important in the development journey." Ms. Vicky Zoeuin, a municipality member and the focal person for the youth development project.
The Youth Committee is one of the ways World Vision is striving to build bridges between local communities and stakeholders towards sustainable development and social cohesion. “This project is one of the most prominent cutting-edge examples of World Vision interventions designed to catalyze partnerships, coalitions and community ownership by promoting citizen’s voice and action” says Rein Dekker, World Vision’s National Director.