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Looking Back

In practical terms, the Sawa team learned as the project progressed about the importance of distribution, and increasingly worked not only with its own network of dispensaries, but also with NGO partners and other institutions, including youth groups, women's organizations, and sports clubs, to achieve widespread coverage. Sawa was distributed via children's groups, day-care centers, playgrounds, churches, mosques, shelters, and other public areas, and ten thousand copies of every issue were distributed to Palestinian refugee camps. Responses from children would be picked up and taken back to the dispensaries and from there to the Sawa team at UNICEF headquarters in Beirut. Many UNICEF field staff eagerly embraced their new roles in the promotion of Sawa, since it enhanced their relationship with the NGOs.

More in the realm of theory, the Sawa and peace camp projects demonstrated that when peace activities are focused on youth, even ostensible adversaries may exhibit more tolerant attitudes. This may be because the adult community has a genuine wish for their children to live in peace, or because large segments of the adult community view children as a sort of "zone of peace." Whatever the reasons, the successful implementation of peacebuilding activities focused on children led to opportunities to expand the peacebuilding initiatives into the society at large.

Finally, perhaps one of the most important-and surprising-lessons learned by the Sawa and summer camp programs was that it was indeed possible to mobilize for peace even in the midst of a war environment. This should give hope to those in other conflict zones about the potential to organize peacebuilding activities even when a climate of violence poses serious obstacles.

Amal Dibo is a former UNICEF program officer in charge of emergency assistance to the displaced, health programs (namely, vaccination), and education programs on human rights, among others serving as an editor of Sawa. Presently she is teaching history of civilization at the American University of Beirut and active in NGOs working for art, science, culture, and peace.


UNICEF Lebanon

P.O. Box 11-5902

Rjad El-Solh, Beirut


Tel: +961 1 981 301-311

Fax: +961 1 983 055


Amal Dibo

American University of Beirut

Faculty of Arts and Science

P.O. Box 11 0236

Riad El Sohl

Beirut 11 07 2020