Sexual health and early marriage education for Syrian refugees in Lebanon” Project

Project name “Sexual health and early marriage education for Syrian refugees in Lebanon  (Arsal and Beirut camps)
Funded by the  Asfari Foundation
2016
Budget 51.000 $US

 

Background:
Lebanon is facing one of the most serious refugee influxes in the world, both in absolute (1.2 million registered refugees) and relative terms (over 4.5 million Lebanese residents). After almost four years of open-border policy, the presence of such large numbers of vulnerable people has put pressure on social and physical infrastructure, further destabilizing a country that was already fragile prior to the Syria crisis.
The deterioration of the displacement crisis into a “protection crisis” has been compounded by several major concerns that have arisen in late 2014/early 2015 as part of the Government of Lebanon (GoL) stabilization plan. One of them is: Early marriage and Gender Based Violence. Syrian adolescent girls displaced in Lebanon are particularly vulnerable to health and protection risks due to complex socio-economic and cultural factors faced during displacement. They are often out-of-school. As a result, they are exposed to multiple safety concerns in their settlements, including exploitation, abuse, heighted risks of early marriage, severe risks of personal hygiene and sexual violence. Thirty-two percent of interviewed female refugee girls reported not feeling safe in their settlements. Although Child Early and Forced Marriage (CEFM) was deep-rooted in the Syrian traditional society, the displacement has contributing to lowering the age of marriage of adolescent girls and creating additional factors for the prevalence of CEFM after their displacement in Lebanon .
Recent assessments confirm that domestic violence, sexual harassment and exploitation, as well as forced/early marriage, remain the main protection concerns for Syrian women and adolescent girls. Restriction on mobility, especially in urban areas, limit women and girls’ ability to access services provided by the government and and/or humanitarian partners. CEFM is prevalent at rates higher than the averages in Syria before their displacement with up to 18% of surveyed female youth aged 15-18 years being married . This practice is mostly accepted by both the refugee and host communities. Marriage at a young age can pose multiple threats to girls’ lives, health and future prospects, including complications during pregnancy and childbirth, such as maternal mortality . For a girl, marriage often means the end of her education and vocational opportunities. Once married, many adolescent girls are facing increased risks of domestic violence.

Based on the above, our proposition intends to target the following :
• health education, reproductive health and personal hygiene
• adolescent awareness on the risks and protection
• strengthen the capacities of women through advocacy and the establishment of women initiatives inside the targeted camps

Project results/ project status
Output 1 : Training of trainers for staff and volunteers in the targeted regions

The training of trainers is the first phase of the project.
The aim of the training is to enable and enhance the capabilities of the new trainers and provide them with technical and personal skills in order to serve the goal of the project through a program based on scientific and medical matters and technical skills and cognitive theory.

The training was held in two steps during the first month:

The first step was for Beirut team through providing skills and special discussion of cases and the development of the program for Arsal team because it will differ comparing to Beirut in terms of number of target groups, place of residency and problems surrounding them. This is why the training included the integration of life skills within the Awareness Program of health for adolescent girls and women and how to give special sessions on the axis of health education through the needs of the beneficiaries and the viability of the subject. Dialogue and discussion sessions were adopted because the team was formerly trained on these topics.

Second step: Training of the Arsal Team by providing the required training materials.
The team was thoroughly trained on how to prepare the training and materials needed according to the target needs and cultural background. They were trained too on the communication skills, on basics of public health, on diseases mostly common in disasters, their types and how to prevent them. Special sessions on sexual education, puberty, physical changes at puberty, the dangers of early marriage, family planning and misconceptions of society that are not based on scientific evidence through some societal myths and techniques that affect life of women and adolescent girls.
Psychological discharge and relax sessions were also given to the team. Addition sessions on the awareness on the dangers of misuse of the internet especially on teenagers and the problems they face.
The trainings were given by specialized trainers coming from the Red Crescent Society of Syria, the Lamsat Ward and the Lebanese Developers NGO.
Background of the trainees: They are university students from Syria and Lebanon with relative experience and proven ability and sense of responsibility in delivering similar trainings.

The training was supposed to take place in the Arsal camp but due to security reasons, the training was given in “Khan Baghdad hotel” in Hamra for 3 full days where participants from Arsal were provided with accomodation and transportation.

 

Trainees were very happy with the information given because most of them had incorrect information regarding the awareness and the types of disease transmission.
The information was provided on topics they had misconceptions about them and especially those related to sexual health.

Target population :

1050 beneficiaries are the project’s target split between 500 women, 450 young girls and 100 men.
They were supposed to be chosen from the Chatila camp in Beirut and the refugees’ camps in Arsal.
150 women and girls were effectively chosen from the Chatila camp whereas the remaining 800 women and girls and 100 men were supposed to be living in the Arsal region.
The selection inside the Chatila camp wasn’t difficult because our trainers lived in the camp and women and girls were easy to identify.
While in the Arsal region, there are 22 refugee camps spread all over the region (in white spots, below picture), we worked mainly in 12 camps that are the closest to the centre of the village (for security reasons).
Our team of 8 trainers who live in the village started at the beginning in informing the Chawich of the 12 camps or the camp directors, on the project and its objectives.
After having their approval, information sessions were given in the camps and interested women, girls and men were asked to participate in the trainings for a period of 3 months.
2 information boards were installed in Arsal, where information on the trainings that took place were put publicly. Those metallic boards are supposed to stay even after the project ends, where local Ads or messages on trainings or other occasions can be put on them. These boards will be informative boards to be used by all active camp intervenes.

After the ToT, the new trainers started giving awareness sessions for women in both camps.

A first set of trainings in Chatila camp targeted 75 women.
Sessions given were very successful and participants were very thankful for the information given to them.

Hygiene kits were delivered to all participants at the end of the trainings sessions. The hygiene kits comprised tooth brush and tooth paste, a brush, a pack of hygiene/ sanitary pads and a nail scissors.

Although the trainings in Arsal were delayed because of the security situation, but sessions started on the first week of April and continued during the whole months of April and May to raise awareness for 425 women of the camps.
Hygiene kits were delivered to all participants at the end of the trainings sessions.

A second set of training targeted 75 young girls in the camps of Chatila.
The girls’ participation was very effective and impressive, especially that we realized an alarming indicator that girls in urban areas were generally supposed to have more knowledge than the ones in rural areas because they are subject to more information., but in reality most of the topics that were discussed were kind of new to them. And they were very happy with the trainings they had.
Hygiene kits were delivered also to all participants at the end of the trainings sessions.

375 young girls received trainings in the Arsal region.
Girls were selected from the 12 Intended Settlements inside the camp.
Training sessions were given in several locations inside the 12 camps where it was easier for the girls to access the training site.
Hygiene kits were delivered also to all participants at the end of the trainings sessions.

The idea behind the men sessions was to raise their awareness on several topics related to hygiene and…
Effectively, more than 100 persons received the 3 hours training sessions where these topics were discussed interactively with the men.
2 sessions per month were given to men coming from the same 12 camps in Arsal.
Besides the trainings on hygiene matters, women were also introduced to the importance of the social initiatives inside their living area /camps.

We had some delays in implementing the project due to the following reasons: it was stated in the project document that there may be some delays in the implementation especially in the Arsal camp where the situation is not very stable. And effectively, the security situation in this part of the country was unstable lately due to clashes between the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the combatants of Syrian rebellions present heavily in the mountains over Arsal. So this security unrest obliged us to delay the start of our activities in the Arsal camp, and the Training of trainers that was supposed to take place inside the camp, was shifted to Beirut where the trainees were hosted in one of the hotels during the third week of march and they were trained on the materials that should be delivered to the Arsal beneficiaries.
And a no-cost extension of one month (until end of May 2016) was requested from Asfari Foundation so that we would have the proper time to implement all the activities that we were planning to do in Arsal camp, taking into consideration that the biggest number of our beneficiaries is concentrated in the Arsal camp.

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