Mona Hassouna is a Programme Manager at Development for People and Nature Association (Lebanon). She gives us an insight into the work they do.
What work does your organisation do?
DPNA’s mission is to make positive change through interaction and the participation of people at a local and regional level.
What sections of the community does your group engage with?
Our main focus is Lebanese youth, but we also target disadvantaged and vulnerable groups in local communities.
Why did your organisation decide to run the Active Citizens training?
We wanted to have an impact on community stakeholders and arm youth all over Lebanon with the knowledge and skills to promote positive social change.
How has Active Citizens supported the work of your organisation?
It’s helped us to achieve our objectives of promoting peace, trust and understanding. It has encouraged youth leadership in the community, created new policies and increased civic education and activism.
Over the past five years we have built a capacity of more than 5,000 people in different regions by providing them with skills in facilitation, communication, negotiation, project management and implementation. We’ve contributed to the development of more than 40 social action projects, providing participants with mentorship training and connecting them to different stakeholders in their communities to achieve community development and social change. We’ve also developed a pool of 22 Active Citizens facilitators from 12 different NGOs.
How has Active Citizens impacted on the work you do?
Through Active Citizens we’ve been able to expand the programme from one area on a local level to other areas on a national level simply because we were talking about citizenship. In terms of programming and designing new projects, a lot of our programmes and activities are built on the Active Citizens Learning Journey and the way you develop your target audience. By Active Citizens International Partners Networking Event (IPNE) and other study visits, we were able to meet different Active Citizen partners from around the world. For example, following the IPNE in Beirut in 2013, we were able to provide skills development to the Ministry of Youth in Libya.
The biggest impact we’ve seen is young people motivated and empowered to make a difference in their community and speaking out about their needs and priorities.
How have your staff found delivering the Active Citizens training?
DPNA team members are passionate about delivering Active Citizens training. As the programme continually progresses, facilitators from DPNA have the chance to participate in its development. The impact of the programme on participants can be measured and assessed throughout the workshops, which then motivates and encourages the facilitators.
What advice would you give to other partner organisations who are considering running Active Citizens?
It’s an opportunity for them to have an impact on their communities and to link up to like-minded partners and activists from around the world. It’s an opportunity for CSOs and NGOs to build their organisational capacities as well as empower their approaches towards community development.
Plans for the future
We’re planning to start a sustainable training programme so we can provide Active Citizens with training throughout the year. Also the team of facilitators are working on adapting Active Citizens for refugees in Lebanon as a response to the crisis of the Syrian refugees in the country. In parallel, and with the support of the British Council, we will try to integrate the Active Citizens programme as a university course in a Lebanese university or a private university.
If you could have one wish relating to civil society, what would it be?
As an activist in Lebanese civil society, my wish is to be able to act collectively with a strategy towards community causes and rights in a timely and effective manner