Post-conflict Benghazi. Half-collapsed buildings and other conflict remnants appear wherever one sets its eyes. Displaced populations forced out of their houses by the conflict now yearn to return home. In view of supporting the return process of and stabilization of conflict-affected communities, ACTED, with the support of UNHCR, mobilized its teams to deliver small-scale, rapidly implemented, community-based projects in Benghazi.
One of the areas targeted was downtown Benghazi’s Scout Park, a public park used by the Organization of Boy Scouts and Girl Guides to conduct their activities. “The park is one of the most important spaces for us,” said Hafid, a representative of the Scouts. “We had difficulty in continuing our activities in Benghazi because it was difficult to find a temporary open space that was large enough.”
A coalition of organizations began working on renovating the park, including cleaning it up, de-weeding and repainting the public theatre stage located in the park. These efforts were largely dependent on volunteers and fundraising. With the aim to support the city’s recovery process, ACTED Libya assisted these efforts by providing new benches, garbage bins, a soccer field and renovation of street lights in the park, with funding by UNHCR. This park will serve the residents of downtown Benghazi, including returnees, providing a recreational space for over 4,000 households.
“This is a really great initiative for us,” said Hafid. “By renovating the park, we again have a space to teach the scouts in our troops about the importance of planting trees and protecting the environment. This park also provides a good recreational space for the children of the nearby neighbourhoods to play sports and revive the area.”
I hope we’ll see the other parks, gardens and school playgrounds in Benghazi revived, in order to provide a safe space for our children.
The project’s impact was immediately felt by local residents: “Children seem very happy, their pleasure is priceless!” said a park user. “We were very glad when we heard that the park would be rehabilitated,” added another.
We finally have a friendly space for people to relax and enjoy themselves.