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Mr. Ayoub belongs to a declining but active group of Lebanese youth committed to remaining in and improving their country. He and two friends founded Nahnoo as college students, organizing small outreach projects that brought together youth from Beirut’s disadvantaged neighborhoods.

“Even with the divisions, you have the same problems; you share the same goals and dreams. So why don’t you work together?” he says about the organization’s mission.

Today, Nahnoo coordinates some 60 volunteers, who tutor and mentor youth across the city. It also holds workshops for young people, aimed at teaching them the importance of tolerance and how to express themselves and solve their problems without violence. The workshops often include activities involving critical thinking, which, Mr. Ayoub says, help youngsters to better understand the complexity of the situations they encounter and that people may have different perspectives.

Mr. Ayoub says frustration often begins at home. Most Lebanese families retain traditional structures and values, which many of today’s youth find oppressive and out of touch with the secular, consumer culture inundating their daily lives outside the home.

Compounding their frustration are inadequate public schools and a corresponding lack of skills and mental tools to deal constructively with the many challenges and temptations they face, such as delinquency and drug use.

Drug use, in particular, has become a serious and increasingly common problem among Lebanese youth. Of Lebanon’s estimated 8,000 drug users, the percentage of those under the age of 23 has jumped from 7 percent in 1990 to 42 percent in 2007.

Ibrahim Hourani, who lives in Cheyyah, also mentors youth. For the past two years, he has been working with Gam3, a Danish nongovernmental organization that brings together youth from different confessions through sports.

Gam3 has helped build and operates eight basketball courts in underprivileged neighborhoods throughout Beirut and has created local basketball leagues with teams made up of members from different communities. Currently, some 800 youth, ages 10 to 18 from, play in its leagues.

“Some kids from Cheyyah never went to play on a Christian playground and never played against Christian kids,” says Mr. Hourani. “We’ve held many tournaments in different areas, and there we — Muslims and Christians — were playing together, not having any problem, just playing basketball. This creates change.”

He describes one game where teams from Tariq el Jedideh and Cheyyah played against one another on the court in Cheyyah. “One of the kids was named Omar, which is a name that identifies him as a Sunni. There was a kid from outside, who was not playing, who started to curse at Omar and the Sunnis,” recounts Mr. Hourani. At that moment, another youth from the Cheyyah team named Muhammad walked over to the young man who was cursing and smacked him. “After he hit him, the guy who was talking bad asked him: ‘Why are you hitting me? He is Sunni, you should hit him!’ and Muhammad told him, ‘He’s now playing with us. We are one team.’

“This sort of stuff happens, and you know people are changing,” continues Mr. Hourani.

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