IFI News, Beirut, Lebanon – A long and painful history of civil wars, ethnic struggles, and invasions by other countries has plagued the country of Lebanon for decades. Now, the International Forgiveness Institute (IFI) is on the front lines to help ameliorate the ongoing conflict by establishing IFI-Lebanon, an international branch office led by Lebanese native Ramy Taleb.
The current conflict in Lebanon began in 2011 when fighting from the Civil War in neighboring Syria spilled over into Lebanon. The Syrian conflict has been described as having stoked a “resurgence of sectarian violence in Lebanon” between Sunni Muslims, Shia Muslims, the Alawite minority, and other groups including the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also referred to as ISIS).
Since 2011, more than 800 Lebanese have been killed and nearly 3,000 injured. Adding to the unease, more than 800,000 registered Syrian refugees were living in Lebanon in 2013, according to the United Nations. Even though Lebanon closed its borders in 2014, the number of registered as well as undocumented Syrian refugees now living in Lebanon is estimated at 1.5 million.
Ramy has already established Forgiveness Education Programs at: 1) Kings Kids Educational Centre in Choufet/ Mount Lebanon for 120 Syrian refugee students; 2) a refugee camp in Shatila/Beirut with two youth groups made up of 29 Syrian-Palestinian refugees; and, 3) at Barja/Mount Lebanon camp with 15 Syrian refugees.
Additionally, Ramy and IFI-Lebanon teamed up with the international organization Youth With a Mission (YWAM) to conduct the first “Faith and Conflict Conference.” The conference involved groups from around the world spending 10 days traveling throughout Lebanon to hear people’s stories about life in the midst of conflict, to see the consequences of war and hatred with their own eyes, and what forgiveness has to do with all that.
“Forgiveness Education for Violence Prevention and Peace Building promotes the development of knowledge, skills, attitudes and values needed to bring about behavioral change that will help prevent conflict and violence through the practice of forgiveness,” according to Ramy.
“Our goal is to make forgiveness principles known throughout Lebanon with programs at schools, refugee camps, youth centers and churches,” Ramy added. “Nearly everyone we’ve reached thus far, but especially the kids, are very eager to learn, open to sharing and touched by the forgiveness program.”