Programs and activities
Plan of action
The Forum for Development, Culture and Dialogue FDCD exists to respond to the immediate needs and challenges faced by the poorest and most marginalized societies in the Middle East. These segments of Middle East communities not only include the economically deprived, but also the socially and culturally marginalized. Socio-economic and cultural marginalization are among the gravest challenges facing the region at this time in its history – challenges that manifesting themselves in social upheaval and present political challenges to the stagnant systems currently in power. By empowering individuals and communities at multiple levels of society, FDCD looks to bring about positive transformation.
In our vision, human beings, by their very nature, are entitled to live a life of abundance in a holistic sense (socially, economically, culturally and psychologically). Our mission is primarily to restore the sense of human worth and human dignity, in such a way that individuals and societies are empowered to be bring about positive change. Our findings, based on research and partnership at the grassroots levels, lead us to the understanding that systematic or concealed oppression, subjugation and marginalization have been taking place all around the region for decades. We have learned that in order to break this cycle there needs to take place a process of awakening of the ‘self’ and the collective community. This would take place at multiple levels through awareness-building, community empowerment activities, community organization, leadership training, and interfaith/inter-generational dialogue.
Why the Forum for Development, Culture and Dialogue FDCD?
The world awoke on September 11, 2001 to a shocking revelation – one that is more shocking than the event itself and the unwarranted deaths of innocent people. We were all shocked the seething hate that had overtaken certain individuals and groups in such a way that motivated them to commit their heinous acts against all of humanity (not only the western world). This shock was that the cultural, social, economic and political maturity and the wealth that collective human efforts have built could be changed in a minutes by a handful of individuals. Was this the failure of civil society, or that of governments? Was it the unbalanced sharing of wealth, or was it disenfranchisement from politics and public participation? Was it hegemonic globalization in its worst form, or was it a yearning for a return of more simple, tribal rule of governing society? It was clearly none of these, but all of them at the same time.
The Middle East is currently facing specific challenges that an organization such as FDCD can respond with credibility and expert effectiveness.
Among these challenges are:
•Global politics and local governance: with the world becoming inter-connected at an accelerated pace at multiple levels, and with the continually spreading values of freedom, people in the Arab world are finding themselves spectators to first, second and third waves of democratization outside the region, while at home they are lulled by cosmetic changes in their internal politics, economic well-being and social integration. Issues of local governance, particularly transparency, corruption, and participation in decision-making, not only touch the vertical relationship between the people and their governing bodies but has deep implications on horizontal relationships among and within civil society itself.
•The return of religious tensions: as a result of the mixed signals being sent between East and West relaying messages of coexistence on the one hand, and messages of extremism on the other hand, and due to conflicts and wars currently taking place in the Middle East, deep rifts are starting to be formed between communities in the region itself and between communities in the region and others in Europe and the US. These rifts would be need to be mended based on solid principles lest they become permanent inter-communal schisms
•Economic globalization: the “opening” of economies to the outside world seems to favor the rich and ruling elite in the region, while the trickledown effect is barely observable. Participation in global economic systems, at this point, does not reflect popular aspirations for better economic well-being, rather, it reflects hurried attempts to join the global market that fail to reap the benefits of such wealth – a case that has brought about higher rates of frustration among those whose only contact with global markets is through television.
As it works toward healthier, more harmonious, more communicative, more open, more transparent societies, FDCD is in a position to address these three issues systematically through:
•its outlook as a regional organization with institutionalized and voluntary contacts around the Middle East in Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Palestine, the Sudan, the Arabian Gulf, and Cyprus
•its small flexible administration that is able to dedicate the majority of its resources to program activities;
•its position as a liaison between secular and religious groups thus enabling it to bridge the gaps and address social, economic, cultural and political issues. This is especially important as it empowers secular civil society groups but is conscious of the depths in which religion affects social norms, ideals, and social action.
•Empowerment and Solidarity: communities need to be empowered in order to bring positive transformation, self-reliance, and collective action at the level of most marginalized local settings
•Justice with Peace: current regional conditions create an environment where conflict and violence simmer under the surface, thus multiple levels of conflict resolution and peace-building activities are a among key priorities for a healthy, harmonious society
•Dialogue: many dialogue activities take place at an intellectual level; integrating this level with Muslim-Christian activities that include and specifically target women and youth would make a significant investment in the future generation in bringing about mutual understanding and cooperation
FDCD works through networks of ‘friends’ that operate in a setting characterized by familial settings – a belief that our each member of the community (of the family) is able to contribute creative, positive energy that rebuilds broken societies on solid ground.
As an empowering organization, we stand in solidarity with those in need in order to empower them to transform their own society. As an organization conscious of local and regional challenges, we are resolute in our understanding that justice must be the foundation of peace, and that this should be reflected in our conflict resolution. As a dialogue organization, we encourage women and youth to be partners in communicating their needs to others in open, safe, and creative spaces.