On-the-Ground | Youth Dreams Deferred: Lebanon’s Biggest Population Has Few Options

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Lebanon’s Youth Demand Change

Lebanon rang in 2020 with fireworks and the clanging of spoons on pots, the sounds of people protesting the Lebanese government over corruption and mismanagement. The mass protest movement is a youth revolution. They are the ones who started it and who have kept it going. They are demanding change. Youth do not feel represented and they want to hold the government accountable.

The spirit of the uprising has been diverse and inclusive, reaching across different groups. The protesters see themselves as Lebanese first. Prior to the protests, youth self-identified mostly along nationality, sectarian or political party lines, but the protests have had the effect of exposing common interests and stakes among each group and they are showing a great willingness to contribute to their country’s future and society’s overall well-being. Throughout the protests, young people have been engaging in clean-up campaigns and civic actions, helping their communities, and uniting around common demands.

Lebanon needs youth development programs now more than ever. They can be the difference between despair and hope. By pivoting programs towards community engagement and efforts to alleviate suffering, youth can use the skills they learn to improve their communities.

In the meantime, the situation for youth in Lebanon and their ability to secure a good education and fulfilling livelihoods is at a crisis level. They are the biggest demographic in the country but they have long been the most underserved, exploited and marginalized age group. This reality goes a long way to explaining why Lebanon is now experiencing such turmoil.

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