'Dramatic' Change Towards Environmentalism in Lebanon
“We really need a clean environment. Many people are getting sick and one day our camp might turn into a big pile of garbage!” - Amir, 11 year-old student in Burj Al Shamali Camp, Tyre
As part of an overall campaign in Lebanon promoting personal and environmental hygiene, Anera is conducting a series of awareness sessions at UNRWA schools. These sessions are being held to change attitudes and behaviors around littering, pollution, recycling, sorting waste at source and composting. Anera has designed and rolled out a year-long plan, through which these core themes are communicated to young children in an interactive and fun way. The long term goal is to help shape the youth in Lebanon regarding the environment.
Among Anera’s awareness activities for children are nine different Mobile Theater shows at UNRWA schools, created and performed by professional young actors, who have devoted their acting careers to raising awareness on all kinds of humanitarian topics.
The Mobile Theatre is an interactive theatre troupe which was created by Suha Nader, Elie Najem, and Hadi Deaibes; three professional young actors who believe that the only way to create real change is to teach the younger generation. They perform in several schools within Palestinian refugee camps, and actively encourage the kids and their teachers to take part in shaping a cleaner, healthier Lebanon for everyone. The environmental lessons reach the children through collaborative, relatable, fun, and easy to understand performances.
“We want the community to be more educated about environmentalism, and to take care of the place they live. We also want these kids to spread this message to their families, friends, and community around them. The pollution issue in Lebanon is not something easy to deal with, so the whole community needs to work together”
- Hadi, actor with the Mobile Theatre
Each performance is fun, and highly interactive. All three-hundred third grade students were singing, clapping, and laughing throughout the entire 45 minutes of a recent school show. The story line focuses on a young boy who at first, does not pay attention to cleanliness and hygiene, but later learns about these habits and becomes an ideal citizen. One who cares about being clean and living in a clean environment so that everyone can live a healthier life.
As a result of these Mobile Theatre performances and environmental lessons, the principle of an UNRWA school recently reported back to the Anera team that ten of his students from the third grade had formed two ‘committees’, one to oversee hand-washing and the other to limit littering.
From the principal’s description, the first ‘committee’ is responsible for making sure all classmates wash their hands after each activity and before eating anything. The second ‘committee’ makes sure nobody litters during recess, when they come to school in the morning, and when they leave at the end of the day. They do this by encouraging the other children to throw their waste away in big bins which were provided by Anera during the Mobile Theatre event. They also take it upon themselves to pick up the rubbish that was littered despite their efforts, after which they proceed to wash their hands, each and every time.
These children are among thousands of youth who are benefiting from the Community Based Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion Program, funded by UNICEF and implemented by Anera.