Posted by on June 13, 2012 in Blog

By Sara Jawhari

2012 Summer Intern

Dozens gathered in a small room at George Washington University on Tuesday, June 13th for a screening of the new documentary “Meet Me Halfway,” produced by the The Nawaya Network, an NGO.

The powerful documentary follows the lives of four at-risk youths in Lebanon as they struggle to pursue their passions in art, athletics and education despite very limited resources.

28-year-old Lebanese American Zeina Saab is the founder of the Lebanese-based Nawaya Network, which strives to empower underprivileged youth by connecting them to resources that will develop their talents and strengthen their skills.

While consulting for USAID in Lebanon, Saab came across a thirteen-year-old girl in a poor, isolated village with incredible artistic skills. “I began to think, what could become of her had she had the right resources around her?  She had so much passion and potential to be a fashion designer, but simply lived too far away from everything, and was too poor to afford classes.” After a few months of brainstorming, she drafted up the idea of the Nawaya Network, registered the organization as an official NGO, and began filming the stories of the four initial recipients of the organization’s support, who are profiled in the documentary.

Ahmed is a young boy who has a passion for the game of basketball. But he doesn’t own a basketball, and he lacks anyone to help him improve. The organization paid for Ahmed’s membership at a local gym and partnered him with a local coach who would meet with him for a few hours a week. A few months after their initial session, Ahmed is visibly more enthusiastic and confident on the court and in his ability to play, and play well.

Samir and Khaled are two talented rugby players from Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. Because of their living situation, they are unable to expand on their talent and love for the game. The organization stepped in, raising funds for them to take a trip to England with the Palestinian Rugby League, founded by fellow Palestinian refugees in the camps. The funds were quickly collected, but the two were unable to attend the trip after their visa applications were rejected. The organization hopes to continue supporting the two rising athletes as they continue to reapply for visas in hopes of joining prestigious rugby teams abroad.

The screening ended with a Q&A session with Ms. Saab, in which she expressed her hopes to expand the goals of the organization to other countries across the Middle East.

 “At the very least, I hope that it will bring greater awareness to the hidden potential of underprivileged youth,” Saab stated in a recent interview. “Beyond raising awareness, I hope to empower countless underprivileged youth around Lebanon, by connecting them with resources that will help them develop their skills and interests. I hope this NGO will contribute to creating artists, athletes, musicians, poets, writers, actors, designers — individuals who will make a positive impact in society and who, in turn, will become leaders and inspiring role models to others around them.”

Watch the full documentary “Meet Me Halfway” here.

Learn more and about the Nawaya Network on their website and get the latest updates on future projects on their Facebook and Twitter pages. Over the next few months, The Nawaya Network will be creating an online platform that allows individuals to "connect youth with needed resources - all with the click of a button." They hope to launch this platform in September 2012.

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