When deprivation tries to kill their hope, it definitely needs to catch them first…
On November 9, 2014, when all the cameras and reporters were busy covering the international Beirut marathon, more than 600 kids from Akkar in northern Lebanon refused to sit at home and watch it on television. They couldn’t afford to participate in the Beirut event so they created their own and ran through the streets of their village.
The Akkar event, which brought together members of 28 sports clubs, marked the closure of Anera’s USAID-funded Sports For Peace II. The six-month project trained young people in different sports, such as soccer and basketball, to bring them together through team/peace-building.
For one day, children of all different backgrounds joined hands, sharing the same start and the same vision. Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese ran all the way to the finish line. Sarah Tlayji, a member of the Women’s Charity League and one of the organizers of the event, iterated the significance of this event. “Recently we couldn’t mention these communities without highlighting the tension rising among them," she said. "Today everyone is running for peace, for friendship and for happiness. Sports really got people together.”
“By using sports as a tool for conflict resolution and peace-building, the Sports for Peace project aims to lift tensions between communities, especially refugees from Syria and the Lebanese host community,” says Anera Project Manager Jackie Atwi.
“I ran the whole course!” exclaimed 15-year-old Mohamad Naser Abboud. “It was beautiful, but hectic. I got tired in the middle of the track but I managed to finish it all. I ran with my friends and made friends along the way. We’ll keep our friendships going ‘till the end’.”