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"My Story with Naseej" - Ziad Kmeid

"My Story with Naseej" - Ziad Kmeid

.. A ‘positive-life-changing’ experience and a hope for the region

Ziad Kmeid;

A youth worker and development practitioner with a special focus on Group and Community Development

Beirut, Lebanon

I first got to know about Naseej in 2008 while I was coordinating the “Youth Building Reconciliation” project with ALEF in Lebanon, which they supported. This gave me the opportunity to participate in various training workshops organized by Naseej in order to become more familiar with the concepts they promote which are the ‘Asset Based Community Development (ABCD)’, ‘Positive Youth Development (PYD)’ and ‘Community youth development (CYD)’. After around one year, I took part in the regional youth workshops and convenings, which gave me the opportunity to become more involved at the decision-making level regarding some issues related to the program namely the revision of the CYD and PYD concepts and the design of ‘training modules’ to disseminate the concepts and approaches to a larger number of youth groups in different Arab countries and even setting up the strategic plans of the Naseej. From then on, Naseej gave me the opportunity to become a ‘trainer’ to spread the ABCD, CYD and PYD concepts and approach among Arab youth. In 2009 I had the opportunity to go to Morocco and contribute to training around 80 youth on these concepts.   

I consider Naseej as an exceptional organization and a true opportunity-provider and empowering body that has hugely contributed to my personal and professional growth.

First and foremost on a more personal level, Naseej presented me with the opportunity, as a Lebanese citizen, to meet youth from different Arab countries and to discover their real cultures which I was previously unfamiliar with, having only some prejudgments and stereotypes about them, accumulated from what I used to see and hear in the media.  As a trainee, learning about Naseej’s concepts has given me a new perspective in youth and community development work and has shed light on the importance of the involvement of youth and the community itself in community development.  Whilst it is true that I, directly and indirectly, studied about the CYD and PYD concepts at the university however what makes Naseej so special is that it takes all the these development concepts that we can find in the books and adapt them perfectly to each context while making sure to involve the youth and the communities in their own development. The approaches that Naseej adopt, gives communities the chance to choose which development pattern(s) fits the most within their own context, assets and needs.  And that was same for us, youth workers and trainers, as we were given the opportunity and support to choose and decide how to utilize the concepts and approaches in designing and implementing trainings and projects, not only as we implemented workshops with Naseej but in our life and work and to this day. 

Furthermore, being part of the decision-making process with Naseej translated one of the ethics and Naseej advocates for, namely youth engagement into real life and work, which taught me the importance and added value of youth (and stakeholders) engagement in the decision-making processes; not just in theory but also in practice.

Finally, if I want to list the impacts that Naseej had on me or on the different communities, countries and youth, I can write pages and pages.  However there is one phenomenon that I would like to mention since I consider it as one of the clear indicators of the impact that Naseej had on all of us: “Although the funding of Naseej has decreased dramatically during 2013 & 2014, nevertheless, our sense of belonging to Naseej, its concepts and approaches, and our engagement in relevant work continued and is continuing.  Today, there are many people around the region who are part of the larger Fabric (Naseej) working and spreading Naseej values, concepts and approaches which gives Naseej a lifelong existence.  Naseej is a ‘positive-life-changing’ experience and a hope for the region, which is why it must continue.