Residential workshop offers Palestinian refugees respite in Lebanon

With the support of Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP), Beit Atfal Assomoud, our partner in Lebanon, recently organised a residential workshop for young Palestinian refugees and social workers living in Palestinian refugee camps.

Palestinians in Lebanon live in a state of permanent humanitarian crisis, characterised by social, political, and economic challenges to their physical and mental health, including poverty and poor living conditions. Young people have limited access to health and education, and lack a safe and free space to grow as individuals, socialise and share their experiences.

The residential workshop was part of a MAP-supported peer education project which supports young people to share health information and promote positive change and behaviour among their peers.

The four-day workshop, which took place in the mountains of Lebanon, was an opportunity for 25 peer educators and five social workers to leave the crowded and restrictive camps they experience every day, participate in educational and recreational activities, and spend time with their peers in a relaxed and stimulating environment.

Some of the themes covered in the workshop included communication skills, learning more about the peer education approach and how to include young people with disabilities in peer education sessions.

“I benefited a lot from this workshop. I learned how to communicate with my peers and community in a more effective, positive and polite way. I also learned how to present myself with confidence,” said Saif*, 19, who volunteers as a peer educator in Mar Elias refugee camp, in Beirut.

Jabal*, a peer educator volunteer in Beddawi refugee camp in north Lebanon added: “I found the workshop very useful. We learned many new activities that we can use in peer education sessions and learned when to use each activity to support delivering a key message. We also learned how to communicate with one another, how to work as a team and divide roles, and how to listen and share ideas with one another. I hope to be able to participate in future residential workshops.”

On their return to their communities, the peer educators who joined this workshop will apply the skills they developed to better facilitate peer education sessions in future. This contributes to the sustainability of the project and ensures new generations of young Palestinians are given opportunities to create positive change in their communities.

Following the success of the workshop, MAP and Beit Atfal Assomoud are planning to organise two more next year. This comes after three years of delayed workshops due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which compounded the chronic economic and humanitarian crisis that Lebanon continues to experience.

Every year, the peer education project reaches around 500 young people in Palestinian refugee camps across Lebanon. In 2021, 75% of the sessions’ participants demonstrated improvement in their knowledge of health issues, 82% reported greater self-confidence and better communication skills, 72% expressed more positive views about gender equity and women’s rights, and 75% reported greater risk awareness as a result of participating in peer education sessions.

“I have benefited a lot from the peer educator project on a personal level,” said Ibrahim*, 14, from Rashidieh refugee camp. “I hope to be able to join future workshops and I advise other young people to join and attend the peer education sessions as they are very useful and important.”

You can support this project and MAP’s ongoing support for young Palestinian refugees by making a donation today.

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*Names have been changed to protect the identities of those involved.

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