Arts and Peace: Saadnayel spreads a cultural vibe throughout the Bekaa

Hundreds of small paintings decorated Saadnayel’s public high school walls as a reflection of the positive interaction between the Lebanese and Syrian children in the village.

Simple drawings of facial reactions and scenes of nature imagined by the children of the village drew smiles upon their parents’ faces. Groups of proud families gathered around the art teacher and young artists, showing support to an initiative that is about to change the cultural scene in Saadnayel, Bekaa.

In order to boost positive synergy among Lebanese and Syrian families and to encourage communication and ease tension caused by daily problems and stress, the socio-cultural committee of Saadnayel, supported by the UNDP “Peace Building in Lebanon” project as part of the Mechanisms for Social Stability implemented all over Lebanon, organized a 14-day drawing workshop during June - July 2016 for 60 children aged between 5 and 12 years old.

Children were able to display their artworks during a ceremony organized on the 27th of July 2016, in the presence of their parents, friends and neighbors. The parents, on the other hand, were thrilled to meet together and participate in such a rare event – expressing their need to extracurricular activities and its importance to the wellbeing and self-confidence of their children, their team skills and respect of “others”.

“Training kids in this workshop was an eye-opening experience” said art teacher, Hanan El Hachem from Majdel Anjar. For the first time, Lebanese and Syrian youth of Saadnayel dedicated their time to express themselves and get to know each other through arts – discovering that they are so much alike.”

The gallery remained open until sunset, when a group of local actors performed a theatrical piece in front of 150 attendees from Saadnayel and the surrounding villages.

Morjana Arafat, coordinator of the socio-cultural committee of Saadnayel, took this event as a chance to introduce the work and goals of the committee since 2014 to the inhabitants of her village, building with them a closer relationship and introducing them to their role in conflict resolution and peace building.

 “We must work more on providing cultural spaces for the youth of Saadnayel to meet and be creative. We need to emphasize on the importance of music, theater and painting that has been absent in Saadnayel for such a long time.”

This activity was the starting point of a planned future project by the committee, which is the first children's entertainment center in Saadnayel aimed to strengthen social stability and reduce tensions in the village.

This activity was funded by UK Dfid.

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