Our partner terre des hommes Lebanon shared insights from the Children Advisory Committee Meetings in South Lebanon
Based on the Time to Talk Committee structure, terre des homme Lebanon set up two child labour children advisory committees (CAC) and two Girls’ committees with local organizations. The child labour group is composed of two committees consisting of 14 and 19 teenage children, both boys and girls. 20 of the children are Syrians, 5 are Palestinian refugees from Lebanon and 8 are Lebanese Doms. Most children are working and participating in different sectors: agriculture, mechanics, street work and the food service industry. Only 12 out of 33 children are going to school.
The girls‘ group is composed of two committees consisting of 17 and 15 adolescent girls, between 12 and 17 years. 21 girls are Syrian and 11 are Palestinian refugees from Lebanon. All girls face GBV (Gender Based Violence) risks. This includes forced marriage, sexual abuse, violence and gender discrimination which leads to school drop-out and shortage of resources. Out of those girls, 6 are out of school and 3 are working.
Activities to reflect on the children´s situations
The committees started deconstructing their situation through engaging in activities such as:
Body maps to reflect on their likes and dislikes with regards to work or to reflect on the girls’ positions in society.
Timelines to discuss about the organization of their days and whether they feel they have enough time to play and get education besides their work or daily tasks.
Role playing to address the challenges they face and potential solutions they could identify.
On this basis, the children prioritised one topic that they would specifically like to address and accordingly developed an advocacy plan. All groups received a budget to roll out their plans.
Two groups focus on child led advocacy for children engaged in child labor
Prioritized topics for children´s advocacy by child labour group:
- Physical and emotional Abuse experiences be street children from employers and street customers – In order to address this concern, children decided to develop a staged video, with the help of a video produced by a film director;
- Bullying and lack of care of children.
Two groups focus on girls led advocacy for girls at risk or victims of GBV or child marriage
Prioritized topics for children´s advocacy by girl´s group:
- Deprivation from education: why would girls have to leave school at 15 years old to be at home while their brothers can stay in school longer? “Participate in
educating her, you will ensure she gets a better life” – On this basis, the girls decided to address this topic by engaging religious leaders to raise this issue towards them so they could in turn advocate during Friday speeches or with parents directly. They also organised a major street campaign in the community, inviting all key officials, a picture exhibition and a video.
- “Too early to get married”: Girls organised a happening in the middle of the Souq (the market), dressed up as young brides. They performed songs about the risks of child marriage, presented a drawing exhibition, traditional dances and hosted a debate with the audience. They invited community leaders, NGOs, social media and the press to ensure that their message is heard.
Lessons learned shared by Tdh Lebanon:
- When creating groups, favour children who have already been involved with your organisation in child protection / psychosocial interventions.
- Maximum number of children per group should be around 15.
- Ideally, a time lapse of 6 months from the first session to the finalisation of the implementation of the advocacy plan should be favoured to allow sufficient time for each step.
- Provide adequate budget for the implementation of the advocacy plan.
- Children really enjoyed body mapping, creative expressions and problem tree. One of the groups also really liked developing its advocacy plan trough the hot air balloon. For 2 of the groups, developing the hot air balloon on the contrary proved complicated. It is recommended for future groups to simplify the hot air balloon exercise and try to create small activities to help children through their reflection process.
- Overall, both children and facilitators expressed their love for the the time to talk process, seeing it as a truly participatory and empowering intervention.