After the resounding success of "Love and War on the Rooftop", MARCH felt the need to keep up the momentum of this conflict resolution exercise and make it sustainable. The first part of our conflict resolution project in the deprived area of Bab el Tebbeneh and Jabal Mohsen, was met with great success in terms of actual results, awareness raising, counter messaging and press coverage. As a next step moving forward and in order to make this project sustainable, MARCH decided to hold out hopes to drive participants to engage in a distinctive path, becoming ambassadors of an alternative way of conceiving Lebanon – ambassadors of tolerance and peace not only in their regions but throughout Lebanon, ambassadors of art and culture as tools for communication and reconciliation. To achieve that, MARCH established a cultural space between Beb El Tebbeneh and Jabal Mohsen, which would serve as a t location for the young men and women involved in the play to keep on working together off-stage and using the tools they have learnt to spread the message to a wider audience, and earning a living at the same time. It will also serve as a cultural space, where events such as other plays, stand-up comedy gigs, rap sessions and other expressive art forms, can find a platform in the neglected conflict areas in Tripoli. This space is a meeting space where youth can meet and interact around positive ideas. The only meeting places available sadly became a hotspot for extremist-leaning individuals to come together and encourage fundamentalist principles. The team is determined to break stereotypes, fear of the other, and deliver one clear message saying that the problems in Tripoli are not stirred or generated by fanaticism or extremism. It is under-development and lack of opportunities that is suppressing any hope for the youth, leading them to resort to violence. This makes the idea of the cultural space even more necessary, not only to sustain the success of the play experiment, but also to create space where young people can interact around peaceful ideas, have fun, and enjoy themselves. It’s a new model that will unite the people of Jabal Mohsen and Beb el Tebbeneh around peace values, art and culture.
The cultural cafe was official launched on Sunday February 28, 2016 in Tripoli, Syria Street
This platform is part of the Axis 1 "Strengthening the capacities of equality actors" of the Priority Solidarity Fund "Women for the future in the Mediterranean" funded by the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs and led by the European Institute of the Mediterranean, in the framework of the project “Developing Women's Empowerment” labelled by the Union for the Mediterranean.