The Italian Foreign Ministry has increased its commitment to helping Lebanese children. To mark Children’s Day (22 March) in Lebanon, the Children’s Municipal Council Charter was signed in 3 Lebanese towns (Ajaltoun, Chyiah and Jdeideh) on 16 March 2013. The initiative is part of the “MOSAIC” programme, which receives 1.5 million euros in funding from Italian Development Cooperation and is implemented by the Lebanese Ministry for Social Affairs. The project aims to provide input to Lebanon’s local development policies, with the focus on strengthening Lebanese institutions with responsibility for supporting children’s policies.
Sport as an opportunity for dialogue and peace
The signing ceremony, which took place at the Jdeideh -Bouchrieh-Sed municipality in Beirut, incorporated a photographic exhibition featuring children from the 3 towns taking part in the initiative. The leitmotif was sport as an opportunity for dialogue and peace and for “getting together”. The photos were accompanied by slogans written by the children and promoting the values of sport as the basis for healthy psychological and physical growth. The event also saw the launch of MOSAIC’s official Facebook page, with information on the initiative and a photo-gallery accompanied by a song, “Khalas”, written by the children themselves.
Children helping to draft municipal programmes
The Charter will enable children to voice their needs during municipal decision-making processes. They will have an opportunity to submit suggestions, advice and opinions, and to promote active citizenship for boys and girls along the lines of the Italian “Child-Friendly Towns” model. A blog produced with the help of CTM-ONLUS, an Italian non-governmental organisation, and Lebanese and international communications professionals, will play a key role in enabling children to air their needs and thoughts.
The Municipal Action Plan will translate their aspirations into implementation points, enabling the towns to respond to children’s needs.
Twinning with towns in Campania
Now that the Charter has been signed, a visit by a delegation from the three municipalities involved in the project is planned to formalise the twinning with San Giorgio a Cremano, Giffoni Sei Casali and Siano, towns located in Campania Region. These 3 towns, which are particularly aware of the importance of promoting active citizenship in children, are members of the Child-Friendly Towns network, a long-term project is coordinated from the National Research Council’s Cognitive Science and Technology Institute in Rome.
The Lebanese delegation, composed of ministry and municipal officials as well as boys and girls from the Children’s Municipal Councils of Jdeideh-Bouchrieh–Sed, Ajaltoun and Chyah, met the Director General for Development Cooperation, Gianpaolo Cantini, on Monday 18 March 2013. The group plans to visit local structures and services in the 3 Italian towns taking part, whose aim is to promote children’s full development. The delegation will learn about the Italian “Child-Friendly Towns” model and adapt it to their own situation.
The twinning initiative will serve as a basis for collaboration and cooperation by the towns involved. The focus will be on children’s rights and their participation in town management, with a view to continuing the initiative on a sustainable footing after the end of the MOSAIC programme and from a perspective of decentralised Mediterranean cooperation.