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Promoting Tolerance through Television in Lebanon

2011 May 11

The cast of Kilna Bil Hayy’s second season.

Lebanon’s future is in the hands of the youth.  It is for this reason that our work there is primarily focused on young people; helping to prepare them for a more peaceful and tolerant Lebanon.  SFCG has used television to spread collaborative messages while also entertaining with our children’s show, Kilna Bil Hayy (All of Us in the Neighborhood). The first season was broadcast in 2009 and the second season aired this January.  The series promotes co-existence among Lebanon’s diverse ethnic, religious, and social groups.

Lebanon has been divided for many years, enduring longstanding war and violence.  The ongoing conflict along the Israeli border is a part of the broader Arab-Israeli conflict.  Additionally, Lebanon has faced recent civil war which led to the further division of ethnic and religious groups and even displaced a large population of some of these social groups.

Kilna Bil Hayy features six children who attend the same school and come from unique backgrounds: Druze, Christian, Sunni, Shiite, Palestinian and Armenian.  Despite their differences, the characters get to know one another and discover their commonalities.

The theme song was performed by a well known local artist, Tania Kassis, especially renowned for her interfaith repertoire.

Following the first season, 46% of viewers affirmed that they increased contact with individuals from other religious and ethnic groups as a direct result of watching the series.  The second season has completed airing on Lebanon’s most watched network (LBC) and we hope that even more viewers will reach out to other religious and ethnic groups as a result.

Some episodes of Kilna Bil Hayy address universal issues such as bullying and the consequences of both being too competitive and telling little lies but all touch on themes of acceptance.

SFCG has expanded the impact of the project by taking it beyond the screen and into schools and classroom. Posters for the production were designed by young people and then distributed to all private and public schools in Lebanon to reinforce the series’ message. We have also trained teachers from over 100 public schools in peace education, using Kilna Bil Hayy to guide discussion.  The trainings encouraged teachers to engage with their students to reflect on the themes of each episode, and talk about it with their families. Parents are a secondary audience who SFCG hopes to reach through their children.

 Dr Samia Sabra, a mother who watches the show regularly, said: “I and the children are big fans of the programme. We eagerly await it and after watching it together, we sit and discuss it. I have found the exercise very useful.”

Pateel Hadidian, 14, one of the lead actors said, “This is a wonderful country…If they could stop fighting, people would finally understand what Lebanon is.”

If Lebanon is to truly move beyond sectarianism, it will be because the next generations understand the value and potential of cooperation.  Through programs like Kilna Bil Hayy, viewers can get a glimpse of what that prospect might look like.  We hope that the second session will have an even more powerful impact on viewers, as SFCG continues to work towards collaboration and understanding.

Learn more about SFCG’s programs in Lebanon here.

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