WHO WE ARE
Al Shabiba Risala is a locally led, diverse community of peace-seekers working primarily with the emerging generation in Lebanon to strengthen social cohesion and build a more peaceful future.
We are a faith-based organization, working at an interfaith and interdenominational level, seeking to build bridges within the church and between Lebanon’s many different religious sects. We have a heart for unity within the church, and it’s mobilization as a key actor for peace in Lebanon and around the world.
BACKGROUND AND CONTEXT
Socio‐religious communities are a primary source of identity for Lebanese citizens and the critical point of much conflict throughout Lebanon’s history. Sectarian hostilities between Christians, Shi’a, Sunni Muslims and Druze have long been a defining factor in the religious, social and political climate of the country. After the Israeli‐Palestinian conflict began IN 1948, tensions began to take their toll in Lebanon with the increasing amount of Sunni Palestinian refugees and the eventual arrival of the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization), and in 1975 civil war broke out, causing great bloodshed on all sides, eventually ending in 1989 with the signing of the Taif accord. Unfortunately, even after the war had ended, many of these tensions and divisions remained. Syria had a military presence in Lebanon for decades and Israel still occupied much of the south. There was no official means of acknowledgement or resolution to the causes of conflict; Lebanon remained unstable and at the mercy and influence of neighboring nations.
In addition to this, Lebanon has hosted more refugees per capita in recent years than any other country in the world. This spillover from neighboring regional conflict in Syria and Iraq, not to mention the many Palestinian refugees who already reside in Lebanon, has put a huge strain on the countries economy and infrastructure, with resulting tensions between host and refugee communities as people struggle for resources. In a country that never redeveloped after its own civil war, Lebanon is in huge economic debt and at risk of spiralling into new cycles of protracted violence.
Lebanon is currently going through one of the world’s worst financial and political crises. The UN estimates that 78% of the population now live below the poverty line, and the Lebanese Lira has lost 90% of its value against the dollar in the past 2 years. The Beirut Blast that happened in August 2020, killing atleast 200 people, injuring around 5,000 others and causing widespread distress and trauma turned an already volatile situation into a humanitarian crisis. This situation continues to deteriorate and there is little sign of any positive change to come.
WHAT WE DO
In the midst of all this, our team continues to work tirelessly to bring not only hope but practical help and emotional support through the different projects and programmes we run.
Our projects focus on the emotional, physical, social and spiritual well being of young people in a country that is plagued by sectarianism and a history of violence. We believe in the participation and empowerment of young people, not only for the future as they take up their various roles and responsibilities in society, but with regards to relevant issues that concern them now. The emerging generation does not possess the baggage of the past and they are naturally future-orientated. We seek to educate them in the past so as to learn from and prevent repeating cycles of violence and division, whilst equipping them for a future defined by justice, peace and reconciliation.
Lebanon can be beacon of hope in a largely destabilized region. Recent political protests have shown this to be true, as Lebanon’s diverse people groups have come together nonviolently to unite around common goals as they seek justice and reform. And as is often the way in such revolutions, young people are at the forefront.
Renewing Society Through Forgiveness and Peace Education
At the core of our work is our unique forgiveness and peace curriculum that leads participants on a journey of understanding with regards to transforming conflict, preventing violence and personal well-being. Working with youth and young adults from various communities in Lebanon, we seek to provide education in nonviolent conflict resolution. This involves developing an understanding of the spectrum of forgiveness and peace, from a space of basic coexistence all the way to complete reconciliation.
We have developed adaptations of our curriculum to work with all age groups throughout school to adulthood; these have already been adopted by a number of schools that we work with in Lebanon.
Whilst our core values and beliefs are informed by our Christian faith, our curriculum remains applicable in both secular and religious contexts.
Find our more about our projects below: