Mazen Shbaro, general manager of MEMO Sarl, attended the launch of the first enterprise BEDCO - Beb el - Dahab Construction at the Grand Serail, on July 10th, 2019, at the invitation of MARCH Lebanon.
Encouraging marginalized youth in Tripoli with construction work opportunities with a view to helping them rebuild a peaceful community away from political and religious conflicts, is the objective of the Bab el-Dahab Construction (Bedco) project, launched yesterday by the NGO March at the Grand Serail, under the patronage and in the presence of the head of government Saad Hariri.
Supported by the United Kingdom Embassy, this social initiative of the association chaired by Léa Baroudi is in the wake of the initiative carried out by the NGO in December 2016 by rehabilitating Sunni and Alawite veterans of Bab el-Tebbané and Jabal Mohsen, through their involvement in the rehabilitation of more than 300 stores destroyed by the war on the demarcation lines.
It was in the presence of young men and women from both regions and in front of a large audience, including the British Ambassador Chris Rampling, the Minister of the Interior Raya el-Hassan, the deputies Sami Fatfat and Dima Jamali, the former ministers Ghattas Khoury, Ziyad Baroud and Nicolas Nahas, and the former deputy Ahmad Fatfat, whom Léa Baroudi thanked MM. Rampling and Hariri for their support for this specific project to "ensure a better future for disadvantaged young people through job offers in the construction industry, at the same time as making them assume a role and a responsibility with regard to society and the country ". Specifying that Bedco is a non-profit social enterprise, created with the aim of promoting conflict resolution through socio-economic development, the president of March affirmed that "the profits will finance the reconstruction of other marginalized neighborhoods", and expressed its desire to help “replace the painful past with a future of hope”.
Two videos were then released, in which young Tripolitans shared their experience with the March association, claiming that it succeeded in "changing the mentality of elimination of the other" by encouraging them to "repair together what has been destroyed ”. The images showed sequences of training sessions in which more than 300 young people were introduced to various construction techniques: boys in plastering, painting, electricity and ironwork; and women in graphics and marketing.
"Get rid of the spirit of rivalry"
In his speech for the occasion, Mr. Hariri praised the initiative, saying that "such quality actions constitute elements of true reconciliation". He also hoped that “Bedco would be part of the projects supported by the CEDRE process”, stressing that he will work in this direction with the European Union. The head of government then addressed the young converts, noting that March's approach "helped to bring (them) out of the history of hatred that we wanted to sow in (them)". And to deplore in passing that "political leaders have not yet been able to rid themselves of the spirit of rivalry which has destroyed the country".
As for Mr. Rampling, he welcomed that Bedco "started from an idea to become a reality", expressing his "eagerness" to see the results of the project. The British Ambassador declared in this context that his country "has given itself the mission of supporting such projects, which have an impact on the lives of individuals", believing that "they give hope to people while contributing to the economic development of their country ”.
The event was further marked by a song performed by Corinne Metni, in which the soprano expresses what the March association believes in, namely “love and peace”. “Stop all quarrels and start a new life without demons and without weapons,” she sang.
Two young people also performed a rap song in which they tell how their life was transformed thanks to the March association, which believed in their abilities and created in them a feeling of belonging to a unified society.
Saad Hariri and Léa Baroudi then posed for photos, surrounded by former young combatants. One of them, Chadi Youssef, from Bab el-Tebbané, told L'Orient-Le Jour that he grew up with “the hatred” of the inhabitants of Jabal Mohsen that his parents transmitted to him. “When the events of 2008 subsequently erupted, I fought with rage when I was only 19 years old,” he says, recalling that when the security plan (2014) was drawn up, his morale "was at their lowest", and he felt his life "had come to a standstill." “Now, thanks to March's initiative, I am thinking of starting a family and building a house,” he says, noting that he now offers his electrician services both in his neighborhood and in Jabal Mohsen.
Beside him, a 25-year-old Alawite, Jaafar Khaddouge, also affirms that before the NGO's approach, he did not dare to leave his neighborhood, but that “Ms. 'inanity of war and hatred, pushing us to work in the once enemy sector and to frequent during the break hour the Kahwatouna café, which she opened in the area between the two neighborhoods ”.
A café which, according to some reports, should soon be completed on the upper floor of a "bed and breakfast", as if to show visitors that the reconciliation is well sealed.