In towns and cities across Libya, the youth are extremely vulnerable as it is difficult for them to find meaningful employment, leaving them with a lot of free time. In Libya’s fragile and challenging context, this precarious situation can further fuel the flames of conflict, as the youth seek alternative opportunities, which can include joining a militia or becoming involved in criminal activities.
The Social Peace and Local Development grants support and encourage citizens and particularly youth, to be actively engaged and participate in their local community affairs. The grants are distributed through the Social Peace Partnerships in Libya, with support from Peaceful Change initiative. The grants have the potential to develop and mature, with some of the projects succeeding in independently securing funding and support.
Tulmaitha is a village situated in eastern Libya, over 100 kilometres east of Benghazi and forms a part of the Al Sahel Municipality, known for its beautiful and expansive beaches. An important part of Libyan culture is going to the beach to socialise with friends and swimming lessons are included in the school curriculum.
Prior to 2017, the Alsahel Municipality was unable to provide a life guard service, while sea rescue centres in the area were neglected. This created tensions, due to a large number of drowning incidents and children were particularly vulnerable because of strong undercurrents.
Hamad is 31 years old and born in Tulmaitha. He is a former combatant and after 2011 returned to his hometown but could not find work. When the Alsahel Social Peace Partnership opened up a Youth Grant opportunity in 2017, Hamad and his brother submitted a proposal to establish a volunteer Sea Rescue Centre. This was approved by the Alsahel Social Peace Partnership and Hamad was responsible for training 20 young people from the area to be life guards, as well as managing the use of a fully equipped boat, new diving suits and first aid equipment. During their first season between June and September 2017, the volunteer Sea Rescue Centre saved over 50 lives.
As a grant winner Hamad was invited to join the Alsahel Social Peace Partnership, he said: “Upon becoming a member of the Alsahel Social Peace Partnership, I felt a sense of belonging to my community; being able to help people on a daily basis has made me a new person.”
The presence of the volunteer Sea Rescue Centre encouraged more people to visit the beach, as they felt safer – which was also good for local business. Over several months, the service provided by the volunteer Sea Rescue Centre became popular with residents and especially families, as well as the Municipality.
As the youth grant came to an end, Hamad and his team felt inspired and encouraged by their work. In late 2017, they produced a short video to raise more funds to ensure the volunteer Sea Rescue Centre was able to operate during the next beach season. In early 2018 the Alsahel Municipal Council officially accredited the Centre and listed it as an official partner, with the Municipality providing technical and financial support.
Official launch of volunteer Sea Rescue Centre with Municipal Council Representatives