Fondation d'Harcourt

The Projects

September 2011 - December 2012

Lebanon: Healing War Wounds

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“I was suffering from depression, especially because I have a physical impairment. At DARI, they encouraged me to express my feelings, but also to bring out my ambitions… I started to take part in the activities on a regular basis… I shifted from being a disabled woman to a productive person. Today, I am busy in manufacturing figurative designs I’ve always dreamt of making.”

            HILAL, 35 years old

The Context

The Beqaa Valley is one of the most deprived areas of Lebanon, with extremely high unemployment rates and very limited options for quality education. The valley area and the town of Baalbeck were severely affected by the war of July 2006, with its high number of casualties, destroyed buildings, physical trauma, psychological distress and thousands of displaced people.

Sadly, in the aftermath of the conflict relief to the area was neglected, summing feelings of abandonment to the existing war-related psychosocial problems. At the time, only a few psychiatric services were available by payment. Free individual psychotherapeutic models, as well as community-based, art-based and early counseling interventions were lacking altogether. As a result, the population’s mental and psychosocial needs were exceedingly unattended.

Our Project

The DARI (Recreation and Counseling Centre for Families) is an initiative of the IOM (International Organization for Migration) established in 2007. Its first phase was funded by the Government of Belgium with a contribution by UNICEF.

The project aims at providing psychological counseling services and socio-recreational activities for children, families and all communities affected by conflict and displacement in the Baalbeck region. The objective is to promote the psycho-social well-being of the entire region and to improve the conditions so that people displaced after the 2006 war can return.

Our Partners

The Government of Lebanon: Minister of Social Affairs – Higher Council for Childhood – Baalbeck Social Development Centre
The Municipality of Baalbeck
APEG (Association pour la Protection des Enfants de la Guerre)
CREADEL (Association for the Development of Local Resources)
Association for the Islamic Orphans

Our Activities

A range of 16 recreational, creative, psychosocial, educational and awareness activities have been implemented in the centre.

Women’s Activities:

  • Sports: Different exercises are approached. 3 sessions per week.
  • Oya handcraft: Once a week. This crocheting technique is common in Baalbeck but requires lots of skill. These workshops were popular and created a friendly environment where daily issues were discussed in a safe a supportive way.
  • Film Screening: Films are selected for screening and discussion based on their conceptual values.  The chosen movies deal with relevant issues to the community such as senseless warfare, binding traditions and women’s traditional duties.

Activities for the Elderly:

  • Sports: 3 sessions per week. The activities are similar to those in the women’s sessions.
  • Health awareness: Sessions focus on geriatric diseases and preventive measures to improve self-care and healthy living. Provided by a Medical Doctor once a week.
  • Calligraphy: One of the most revered forms or Islamic art; it provides a link between language and religion. Twice a week this workshop provided a culturally acceptable and creative form of expression and relaxation.
  • Film screening: Once a week. The selection rationale is very similar to the women’s film screening.

Youth Activities:

  • Handcrafts delivered once per week.
  • Piano course delivered once per week.
  • Film screening: Selected films screened and discussed once a week, with a similar rationale to the other two movie forums.

Activities for Children aged 7 to 14:

  • Psychosocial activities covering a series of games and activities delivered once per week.
  • Piano and handcrafts delivered once per week.
  • Film screening delivered once per week

Children under 7 were offered story-telling,  theater,  movie screenings and handcraft activities on a weekly basis.

Psychosocial Counseling Unit

Psychological counseling is provided by psychologists from the Association for the Protection of Children in War (APEG) inside DARI, twice a week.

By the school directors’ request, APEG organized formation workshops for school officials and teachers in order to discuss and better understand emotional/behavioral problems they face with the children.

Our Results So Far

For 6 years now, the DARI Center has remained a safe space where people of different age groups gather, express themselves and socialize. The recreational activities and counseling provided by the center have reached a total of 3,610 beneficiaries. These include Syrian refugees, Lebanese returnees and members of the host/return communities in the Baalbeck valley.

Since its inception, the project has adopted a holistic and integrated approach in order to guarantee strong participation and ample reach. The combination of structured psychosocial activities we offer ensured the displaced population of Syrian refugees and Lebanese returnees access to services like case management, referral and specialized psychological counseling and support activities.

Following the UN Inter Agency Standing Committee’s (IASC) guidelines for generating strong participation, our services and activities have been planned, managed and implemented in close collaboration with the target communities. This has promoted the project’s sustainability through on-going community involvement, and has also served to mobilize the available resources.

So far, the DARI Center has supported and implemented 16 recreational, creative, psychosocial, educational and awareness activities on a regular basis in a total of 1,278 sessions.

Most activities have provided participants with an open, safe forum where they can express their thoughts and feelings. The contribution of such a forum has been an increase in self-awareness and awareness of their environment, which ultimately provides tools to better adapt, develop and flourish. Women have specifically expressed an improvement in mood, less emotional lows, an overall positive effect on body image, cognitive functions and self-esteem.

Among the activities tailored for the community we have weekly support activities for children and adolescents with special needs. These activities were chosen and designed in conjunction with the Handicapped Union in Baalbeck, with 36 people of all age groups being selected to participate. These Psychosocial Structured Activity (PSSA) programs address concerns such as personal experiences, coping mechanisms, resiliency, security and protection mapping.

In addition, community-level activities have been put into action in partnership with several agencies through our outreach activities. Partners include UNICEF, Mercy Corps, the Danish Refugee Council and the local NGO KAFA (Enough Violence and Exploitation in Lebanon and the Middle East).

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