A ROLLING ROCK حجر يتدحرج
A ROLLING ROCK addresses problems in Lebanon arising as a consequence of the civil war in the neighbouring country Syria and the Lebanese civil war from 1975 to 1990. With our mobile climbing wall built on a truck, we aim to bring colour, movement and joy to underprivileged youth in the Beqaa Valley.
We believe that CLIMBING …
- connects individuals from all backgrounds through positive emotions and common goals;
- fosters cognitive and physical development;
- fights depression and helps coping with psychological trauma and other mental disorders caused by war and challenging living conditions.
Learn more about our project‘s past and possible future, about the sociocultural context we operate in and the numerous benefits of climbing on body, mind and social environment.
Bringing the Mountain to the Valley
“If you can’t bring the people to the mountain. Bring the mountain to them.”
It took 1 year, the work of more than 70 passionate volunteers on 2 continents and 50’000 $ to make our vision of A ROLLING ROCK reality. On August 30th, 2017, it finally happened in a mid-sized informal tented settlement in Taanayel, situated only 15 km away from the Syrian border.
THE ROCK – after a long journey from Switzerland to Lebanon – found its purpose: Bringing movement, joy and colour to youth in the Beqaa.
3 months rockin’
Over 3 months, we rocked 18 settlements, parks, back- and schoolyards in Taanayel, Bar Elias and Qab Elias. Regardless of nationality, religion or gender: More than 400 kids, teens and grown-ups loved and climbed THE ROCK. During the last 2 weeks, a group of 7 young Syrians and Lebanese became our volunteers, started to set routes and helped us with the younger participants.
What started as a psycho-social project to fight boredom and depression in Syrian refugee settlements, quickly became a magnet that brought together Lebanese, Syrian and Palestine refugees, volunteers and humanitarian aid workers from all over the globe.
Then when we climb, we are all the same. It doesn’t matter where we are coming from or where we go. On the wall, we share the same emotions. We feel joy when we succeed, often frustration when we don’t. What we learn, is to accept ourselves and to never give up.
Winter is coming
What is true for climbing, is no less true for life and: this little project of ours. During the last 14 months, we pushed and reached our financial, legal and physical limits to make this project happening.
With heavy hearts, mid of November, we pulled out of the Beqaa. Winter is coming. The wind is blowing hard, rainfalls are frequent and heavy. Soon there will be snow. We wish we could stay, but we didn’t have enough time and funds to establish THE ROCK in an indoor space for the coming months.
Instead, we drove THE ROCK to Beirut where our friends from Cirquenciel and the Lebanese climbing community will give weekly climbing sessions to local youth.
The year 2018
The next year will decide over the long-term future of A ROLLING ROCK in Lebanon.
To stay in Lebanon, we need to overcome financial and legal hurdles. For example, our vehicle wears Swiss number plates and, together with the rest of our equipment, is admitted only temporarily to Lebanon. A well-informed estimation puts tax, legal and other administration costs at $20’000.
Personal costs represent a considerable part of the overall budget. With an estimated $43’200, we plan to employ 2 to 3 local staff and pay for travel and other expenses of local volunteers.
Another big part of the budget, are the costs associated with project management, fundraising, accounting, communication, and more.
To run THE ROCK in 2018 and to establish it in Lebanon on sustainable grounds, we need an estimated $128’600. If you have any inquiries, please do not hesitate to contact us.
With your help the journey of THE ROCK will continue in the Beqaa and – as soon as the security situation allows is – bring joy, movement and colour even beyond the border to Syria.
Sign-up and stay tuned!
The Beqaa Valley, Lebanon
Lebanon is a middle eastern country made up of 4 m Lebanese, estimated 1.5 m Syrian and 0.5 m Palestinian refugees. These figures make it the country with the highest concentration of refugees per capita worldwide: 1 of 3 is a refugee.
The Beqaa Governorate – our main area of operation – has a total population of more than 0.5 m, of which almost 50% are Syrian and Palestinian refugees. In many villages, like Ghazze, Qab Elias, Marj, the ratio of refugees to locals is two or three times. Poverty – defined by $3.84 per day and capita – among Lebanese (>30%) and Syrian refugees (>80%) is widespread, amounting to 260’000 people in need.
An economic crisis, the doubling of the population, and the entanglements of national politics are weighing down on the region. Although there seems to be a satisfactory sense of security and conflicts remain latent so far, there are significant sources of tension, primarily linked to job competition over low-skilled jobs, scarce resources and public services. A quarterly survey conducted by ARK finds that relationships between Lebanese and Syrians worsened significantly between March and May 2017.
“[We recommend to] expand social cohesion projects for Lebanese youth from mixed political and sectarian backgrounds, as well as between Syrian and Lebanese youth and women through school education and make sure such projects are designed rather long term and involve frequent activities.”
Climbing for Development
Climbing increasingly gains attention from academic research as a treatment for a variety of mental health issues and as a method of experiential education. Self-esteem and body-awareness are fostered through concrete challenges, fears are overcome, team building capacities and responsible social interactions across cultural and ethnical backgrounds are taught.
Through climbing activities, we aspire to achieve impact on individual and social level.
Competition for jobs, scarce resources, the troublesome history between Syria and Lebanon as well as political campaigning are contributing towards increased tensions between host, refugee, religious and political communities.
Sport’s activities – and according to our belief, especially climbing being a non-competitive, social and peaceful sport – can increase the conflict prevention capacities among youth through building a sense of community, sharing common goals, the passion for climbing as well as friend and companionship. On a personal level, by exercising self-control – crucial for climbing – participants learn to moderate violent behaviour and anger.
Mental Health & Psychological Well-Being
Although refugees find relative safety in host countries, they need support to deal with distressing experiences of violence, abuse, exploitation, family separation and more.
New research finds a positive impact of climbing (specifically: bouldering) on depression and is increasingly used as means in psychotherapy and experiential pedagogics. The sense of accomplishment when successfully solving a “boulder problem” helps to develop self-esteem and self-confidence. Through experiencing oneself as “functioning” (self-efficacy) participants ultimately regain the feeling of being in control of life and daily routines. Furthermore, through the required high demand of attention and a very coherent experience of reality, traumatized participants might be able to reconnect to “unharmed” proportions of their personality.
Education & Cognitive Development
Many youth don’t have access to formal education, let alone recreational and sport’s or other stimulating activities. In the Beqaa, only 9% of Syrian refugee adolescents aged 15-17 have been enlisted in secondary school.
Through climbing, executive functions of the brain are trained which are central aspects of conscious guidance of our mind, feelings and thoughts. They help us to focus, to stick to a plan, set priorities, moderate emotions and calm stress. Paired with a social environment supportive of learning, we aim to stimulate the receptiveness for further education.
Through workshops for volunteers, we want to convey basic knowledge in business and project management, accounting, leadership, climbing therapy and psycho-social support.
Social Competencies & Life Skills
Youth in Lebanon often face challenges and a lack of life skills when they enter the job market. Amongst others, employers identify a lack communication skills, self-awareness, self-esteem and confidence, respect for authorities, ability to work in teams, ownership and leadership skills.
Climbing in the group improves the individual’s social perception and personal skills. Discussing problems, sharing tips, motivating and taking care of each other are all integral parts of climbing. The multiplication of conflict resolution strategies by number of participants, strengthening of self-control and self-esteem are effects described above.
Sport and physical activity lead to improved health. Empirical evidence exists on the beneficial outcomes of sport on individual, community as well as society level. Besides improved health or better fitness in general, physical activity has been proven to reduce non-communicable diseases and lowers the risk of heart disease, chronic respiratory disease, early death, stroke and high blood pressure. People who play sports have a lower Body Mass Index (BMI), thus sport helps to prevent obesity and certain types of diabetes.