Singing hope and peace

Mrs. Oumeima El Khalil singing in Houla (south Lebanon) cultural center as part of an event marking UN International Youth Day.

UNIFIL Nepalese Battalion Commander Lt. Colonel Nawaraj Gurung presents a gift to Mrs. El Khalil at the end of an event that took place in Houla (south Lebanon) celebrating UN International Youth Day.

A dancing crew from Saint Coeurs school of Marjiyoun, (south Lebanon) performing a Lebanese traditional dance on the occasion of UN International Youth Day.

UNIFIL Peacekeepers from the Indian Battalion performing a traditional dance on the occasion of UN International Youth Day, in Saint Coeurs school in Marjiyoun (South Lebanon).

UNIFIL Peacekeepers from the Chinese hospital performing a traditional dance on the occasion of UN International Youth Day, in Saint Coeurs school in Marjiyoun (South Lebanon).

Mr. Hassan Abla, a member of the municipality council of Marjiyoun (south Lebanon) and Mr. Sultan Suleiman, UNIFIL Civil Affairs, presenting a picture of Marjiyoun to the guest of honor Mrs. Oumeima El Khalil on the occasion of UN International Youth Day.

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15 Aug 2013

Singing hope and peace

Oumeima was the highlight of a two-part ceremony organised by UNIFIL Civil Affairs office in Cultural Centre of Houla and the Saints-Coeurs school in Marjeyoun, during which a glimpse at the Nepalese, Indonesian, Indian, Chinese as well as Lebanese cultures was also exchanged.

UNIFIL aims "to pass on a message that we're not here only for peace and stability but that we are also concerned about the well-being of the people," explained UNIFIL Civil Affairs officer Edward Tawil, who stressed that Oumeima is "a beautiful voice that the people of the south can relate to and who can promote a message of hope and peace."

For his part, Mohamed Abou Jahjah, also a UNIFIL Civil Affairs officer, said that "Oumeima represents an icon for the spirit of rebellion and change, particularly to the southerners." He added, "She accompanied them in difficult times, but she also reminds them that there is still hope for this country to live in peace and stability."

Peacekeepers from the Nepalese, Indonesian, Indian and Chinese battalions performed some of their national traditional dances. "This makes us real proud and happy to be able to illustrate our culture," said Nepalese Warrant Officer Situ Shakya as she was getting ready with her team to hit the stage.

Meanwhile, Indonesian Civil and Military Cooperation (CIMIC) officer Captain Viki Herwandi pointed out that "This is a very good activity as it gives us the chance to introduce our country's culture through the Warong, our traditional dance from Java."

Young people also had their say at the festivity. While Zeina Chhimi praised in a speech delivered on behalf of Houla youth the guest of honour and what she represents in terms of hope and resilience, several young people voiced their hope on the sidelines of the event.

Hassan Derbej in Houla urged the youth to be "unified against racism," Mohamed Chhimi to "stand together against extremism," and Jean-Paul from Marjeyoun to "remain unified so that Lebanon remains undivided."

Lauding the youth on their day, Spanish Battalion Commander Lieutenant-Colonel Jose Maria Ortega Olmedo pondered that "every new generation somehow feels it can remake the world anew and remake it as a better place – and this is good. This is in fact the very definition of hope."

"This is why the presence of youth is so important here in Lebanon which has experienced so much pain in the past and look to the future with hope and will of peace and prosperity," the Spanish Commander added.

Hope was also ascertained by the Nepalese Battalion Commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Nawaraj Gurung, who noted: "Seeing the youth of South Lebanon, I am very confident that the future of Lebanon is very bright and that peace and prosperity will not be distant."



Article: Rania Harb
Video Editor: Suzane Badereddine
Video Camera: Mohamad Hamze
Photo: Ghifar Charafeddine