15 February 2020
The Danish Government has granted funding to a major SAT-7-led project, called Lebanon – Our Story, aimed at driving social cohesion by helping young people from a variety of backgrounds, including Syrian refugees, to develop a shared narrative of hope for the future.
In recognition of the multiple crises enveloping Lebanon and how these would deepen after the August 2020 Beirut blast, the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs invited proposals for projects aimed at “reducing vulnerabilities for refugees and Lebanese host communities and strengthening Lebanese Civil Society”. Lebanon – Our Story was the response of SAT-7 together with partners, the Danish Mission Council and Danish Bible Society.
“Lebanon – Our Story recognises the important roles played by narratives and the media that disseminates them in fuelling inter-communal tensions,” says SAT-7 Development Manager, Nicoletta Michael.
“To counter these, the project will use the telling of stories to build a shared narrative of hope for both citizens and those who have been displaced from Syria and elsewhere. The aim is to see more people connecting across ethnic, social, political and religious lines, identifying common values and struggles, and working together to address issues of shared concern.”
To implement this, Lebanon – Our Story will have multiple aspects. In one track, participants aged 15 to 25 from different communities, including displaced Syrians, Palestinians and Armenians, will be recruited for story-telling and collaborative activities. The media front will include a SAT-7 televised documentary and drama, an online cross-community platform, a social media campaign, and book publication.
SAT-7’s partners in the project will be the Lebanese Bible Society, the Danish Bible Society, Center for Church-Based Development, Prix Jeuness International Foundation, and Humanship.
Lebanon, a country with a population of around 4.5 million in 2011, now hosts an estimated 1.5 million Syrian refugees. This influx has taken a toll on Lebanon’s already fragile infrastructure and, over time, has aggravated the feelings of struggling local people towards those displaced from Syria. On 27 December, for example, 370 Syrians had to flee their informal camp when local youths set fire to it following an argument between refugees and residents. Refugees have been blamed for taking jobs, endured greater COVID-19 restrictions imposed by local authorities, and been dehumanised by some media voices and politicians.
For SAT-7, this new project to build more hopeful narratives builds on an extensive range of social development and education programming, including its SAT-7 ACADEMY output, watched by 8.6 million  viewers in the Arab world.