Oct 3, 2016

Ruwwad, Tripoli's Pioneers

Photo from Ruwwad Lebanon's Facebook Page

"I came here a broken woman, Ruwwad has turned me into a strong person. I don't have to beg any politician anymore!" were the words a woman performed as she stood among her peers interpreting a video they were just watching. She gathered the applauds of every single person listening, whether donors, guests or staff. She was one of the ladies that were benefiting from Ruwwad's empowerment program gathering women from both ex-conflicting Jabal Mohsen and Tabbaneh under one roof.

"Everybody thought I was a notorious person, somebody who cannot be friends with others, and that made me pretty upset in return, until Ruwwad came along and showed everybody the real me" uttered a young man in front of us during the "Dardashat" stop, part of the "My Identity" program at Ruwwad. I was immensely moved with this young man's intervention, and I bet I saw somebody else wiping her tear too.

"Some of our students have come over to us wishing their schools were as cool as Ruwwad's support classes", said Ms. Reem Haj Ali answering one of the guest's questions. The classroom was so vibrant it took us a while to realize there were so many children benefiting from the library dedicated to Ruwwad's children. The same library was also filled with books and stories of all genres, languages and sizes to fit to each child's hunger for learning and reading. I could see with my own eyes the way each of those kids were enjoying the classroom and the whole atmosphere.

All of the above took place right before the inauguration of the Ruwwad's graduation ceremony, celebrating the first batch of graduating students from the support program launched by Ruwwad a few years back for young adults from both Jabal Mohsen and Tabbaneh, previously drenched in bloody conflict and not joint-back with efforts such as Ruwwad's.

What is Ruwwad?
"Ruwwad Al-Tanmeya is a non-profit community development organization that works with disenfranchised communities through education, youth volunteerism and grassroots organizing. Our approach encompasses an array of programs and initiatives that, together, strengthen agency and facilitate redress to problems prioritized by members of the community. Three main programs anchor Ruwwad: Child Development, Youth Organizing and Community Support." - Abstract from their FB Page.

Photo from Ruwwad Lebanon's Facebook Page
I was invited to the inauguration and the private donor tour right before the main ceremony, I was by that given the chance to witness beforehand the importance of what Ruwwad was doing. The same guys and girls who were looking at each other as enemies a while not so long ago, were now working together hand by hand to reach a place higher than the dumpster they were all left to rot in.

As the bio explains, Ruwwad had been mobilized not so long ago, mainly by active members of the private sector to reenergize the conflicting areas of Jabal and Tabbaneh, especially after the reconciliation almost two years ago. Today, Ruwwad spans Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon and Palestine, and operates through a strong network of partnerships with the private sector and civil society and governmental agencies (source: Ruwwad's FB page).

It is not troublesome to admit that, Sarah Al Charif with the help of the gorgeous girls and boys helping out running Ruwwad and volunteering for this or that chore, are handsdown some of the most hardworking people I've encountered in Lebanon. I don't need to be told what their building was like a year or two ago, I've seen it with my own eyes. I've heard with my own ears what was it like to be from either areas talking about your neighbour right across the street. Ruwwad have done some phenomenal work right there.

Even though I weren't able to attend the main ceremony, but the vibes were all over the internet. I will be quoting several Facebook posts as follows. All the best to all the graduated students and can't wish but the best for Ruwwad and its personnel.

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