Lea Baroudi is an inspiring activist that founded an NGO in Lebanon solely with the hopes of achieving what seemed to be impossible just a year ago: to diminish extremist sectarian mentalities and that by creating safe and inclusive communities.
Her efforts in softening extremist barriers have earned her several awards, including the Sustainability, Environmental Achievement, and Leadership Award, known as the SEAL Award.
Baroudi is also a newly entitled member of the Order of The British Empire for her peace-building and civic rights’ services through her NGO March Lebanon.
Baroudi strives to dissolve the barriers between different sects in Lebanon and her main goal is to help marginalized youth build a better future.
What makes her techniques different from any other peace-seeking activist is the way she tackles the marginalization of these communities.
She makes conflict-resolution possible through arts, theater, construction work, and civic engagement with her team.
Most of Baroudi’s work is done under the NGO March Lebanon, which she founded in 2011.
The NGO’s first initiatives were to focus on “freedom of expression and anti-censorship” in the country.
It then thrived so exponentially that members of March Lebanon had a hand in all types of activities, from theater plays that focus on the importance of uniting diverse mentalities, to aiding and re-constructing the broken rubble that resulted from the Beirut Blast.
An example of March Lebanon’s work in eradicating sectarian conflict was about two Lebanese militia groups that had been fighting in Tripoli and their reconciliation. Baroudi got the youth to re-enact their own story.
“After working with them on a comedy play inspired by their own lives, I realized that the root cause of extremism, violence, and sectarian conflict in Lebanon is not really ideologically based,” she said in an interview with Forbes.
“It’s really extreme negligence, poverty, marginalization, and the lack of hope for a better future that makes young people extremely vulnerable and easily manipulate,” she explained.
Baroudi and her NGO continue to thrive through rehabilitation activities, opening cultural cafe’s around Beirut, facing off COVID-19 in their own creative ways, painting peace messages and artworks on the streets of Lebanon, and aiding an initiative for the community to donate to the community!