Nabaa in Lebanon – the best answer to poverty and marginalization is EDUCATION.

By Milena Rampoldi, ProMosaik. In the following my interview with Qassem Saad of the Organisation Nabaa in Lebanon. Nabaa helps the most impoverished and marginalized children in the country, and also supports Palestinian and Syrian refugees coming to Lebanon. Local Communities need support to empower girls, and women, and to support children  to build up a better future for the Middle East. I would like to thank Qassem for his detailed answer to our questions. And the best answer to poverty and marginalization is EDUCATION.
 Milena Rampoldi: What are the main objectives of Nabaa?
Qassem Saad: Developmental Action without Borders/Naba’a Aims for a community in which all marginalized groups (children, adolescents, women, etc.) are fully included as equal members of society and are able to achieve their full potential. Naba’a applies a holistic approach in its strategy and program implementation by targeting several groups such as children aged 0-18, parents, teachers and the community as a whole, as well as NGOs and governmental agencies. Over the last 10 years, Naba’a has worked hard to develop its capacities and expand its experiences, particularly in the fields of children’s rights and community development. Naba’a strongly believes that sustainability cannot be achieved without continuous strengthening and improvement of the organization.  Our Main Specific Objectives are;
–            Support young children most at risk of violence and neglect in their communities and to provide them with opportunities to develop their confidence and to grow up in a safer, more inclusive environment.
–            Support children and youth at risk of dropping out from school and living in hazardous circumstances and to help them realise their potential.   We particularly focus on marginalized girls, who have restricted mobility and are being denied education, or are entering into early marriages.
–            Build the capacity of local communities to take a more coordinated and inclusive approach to participatory decision-making and service provision. We particularly focus on strengthening women’s role in the community so that they are able to participate more fully in community decision making
–            Influence the decisions of key policy makers and service providers who are responsible towards the Palestinian communities living in Lebanon to uphold the rights of Palestinian children, and to be accountable for providing appropriate services.
Which are the main problems children face in your country?
–            Children and young people described the pressures they are being subject to at school and in their community.  At the top of that list was their exposure to various forms of violence and abuse, including bullying by peers (especially experienced by refugee children from Syria).
–            Children in schools were deterred by the physical environment – small places for recreational activities, badly maintained toilets and poor ventilation in classrooms – as well as the burden of the curriculum, and the teachers’ several violent practices.
–            Refugee children from Syria experienced much discrimination, from peers and from teachers, and struggled to keep up with a curriculum that is mainly taught in English.
–            Parental neglect and the low level of parents’ awareness of how to manage their children’s behavior how to identify risk factors, and how to protect their children from abuse or exploitation.
–            Young people experienced stress due to the need to find a gainful employment or any income-generating opportunity.
–            Conflict and unsecure situation lead the parents and their children to live in an additional psychosocial pressures and stress.
Why is education the basis of the development of all societies?
We all agree that all children have the right to an education. But investing in education is also the smart thing to do. Why? Because education gives people the skills they need to help themselves out of poverty and into prosperity.
–            Improved Health: With education, people are better prepared to prevent disease and to use health services effectively. Educated mothers have healthier children.
–            Economic Growth; The facts and the results show that youth who have a higher level of education are in better economically than others, while those who dropped out of schools at the primary levels are either unemployed, working part time, or categorized as hardship cases by UNRWA.
–            Educated people and social media people have more opportunities to keep themselves updated regarding the job opportunities, where most of the advertised opportunities are electronically published and communicated.
–            Democracy and political stability: Education supports the growth of civil society, democracy, and political stability, allowing people to learn about their rights and acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to exercise them.
–            Education protecting children particularly girls, from being abused, neglected or exploited by adults, parties and groups.
 Which are the main things you do for community development?
–            Naba’a believes that such development involves helping to build better communities that are based on justice, equity, mutual respect and sustainable partnership development. It seeks to enable individuals and communities to grow and change according to their own needs and priorities, and at their own space, provided this does not oppress other groups and communities, or damage the environment. The community development process depends greatly on building the capacities of the people in the community, so as to enable them to use the resources wisely and effectively.  
–            Community development is the process that positively changes the living conditions in which aspects will contribute to the of community’s well-being (economic, social, environmental and cultural), whereby community members cooperate together in playing effective, positive roles in collective action that generates solutions to common problems.
–            From our viewpoint we see the community as benefitting locally from available resources to achieve the goals and aspirations of its members.
–            We endeavor through the community program to penetrate community life, so that any event requiring intervention for the social development of target groups, we can employ psychology, education, and economics to stimulate and mobilize activities and programs for maximum effectiveness.
How important is it to involve parents in your work?
–            Naba’a applies a holistic approach in its strategy and program implementation by targeting several groups such as children aged 0-18, parents, teachers and the community as a whole, as well as NGOs and governmental agencies. We work in an integrated way, involving a wide range of individuals and organizations within the community to build a shared approach to achieving our vision, mission and aims. Through our programs and interventions, we recognized that children are more likely to succeed socially, psychologically and academically as opposed to engagement in violent behavior if their families are involved in their education.
–            Implementing activities with parents, gives them opportunity to bridge the gap with their children.
–            It will enhance the trust among them and promote positive parenting in dealing with the problems of their children and adolescents.
–            Finally, working with the children without engaging their parents or community will lead to very little positive change because most of the children’s time is spent with their parents and within the community.
Tell us about the success and the challenges of your work.
The main success and impact outlined in terms of achievements, quality and diversity of programs.
–            We have seen a lot of growth in terms of covering more children and communities through our program and initiatives.
–            We are proud of the quick response by Naba’a to the emergency situation created by faced refugee displacement from Syria to Lebanon.
–            Naba’a is certified by Core Humanitarian Standards with regards to the accountability and quality of services.
–            Naba’a is Leading a Child Rights Network “Manara” in 9 Arab Countries in the region.
–            During the past year We reached 18150 children, 9800 young people, 5900 parents and 2750 women through our programs during 2015 till mid of 2016. To ensure our projects deliver a sustainable impact on the lives of the most marginalized groups, Naba’a works not only directly with children but also strengthens the capacity of those influencing their lives. We enable parents and caregivers, teachers, social workers, and local authorities to fulfill their responsibilities towards children, positively interact with them and give them the support they need to develop their full potential. In 2015, 18300 adults participated in awareness-raising activities, workshops on child rights, positive parenting, child protection, reproductive health, conflict transformation, youth led initiatives, children participation, importance of education for children and young persons, child rights governance and complaint mechanisms.
–            The unstable security situation in Lebanon and in the refugee locations.
–            Limited funds which prevent implementation of long term projects, so you it is difficult sometimes to measure the impact of our intervention.
–            The Number of the international NGOs, who pay higher salaries than LNGOs, thereby resulting regular staff turnovers.
What is your dream for the future of Lebanese children?
For the future of Lebanese children, we have a lot of dreams or suggestions;
–            The law of “Education is obligatory for all” is activated and practiced in all Lebanese areas and locations
–            The most marginalized and impoverished children are protected from being abused by others.
–            The most marginalized children are protected from risky behaviour such as drugs, etc…
–            All work on the well being of the children living in very poor areas and being neglected.