TAMAS: Changing Lives One Juvenile at a Time

Juveniles in Lebanon often suffer social discrimination and banishment from society upon their release, leading them to live as outcasts and often falling into the trap of recidivism. However, TAMAS gears up to reintegrate juveniles into society.

Losing hope, losing one’s self, losing a sense of belonging: these are just some of the extremities that juvenile detainees go through upon their release from imprisonment. More than often, juveniles lack a safe space to talk about their experiences of pure brutality they’ve surely encountered while serving time in detention; they find themselves in need of an outlet for their mental sufferings and abuses. To put it vaguely, juvenile detainees search, in vain, for someone to share their concerns with and lend them a helping hand, an open heart, and an ear that listens. And when we say in vain, it’s because society is unwilling to accept its own sons and daughters back into it; it’s unwilling to ‘’reintegrate’’ them, leading these youths to return into doing the same actions that had them detained in the first place, an action known as ‘’recidivism.’’

 TAMAS, a new initiative made up of Hoda Al Ghali, Rawan Said, Najd El Ahmadieh, Raseel Tayyara, Hussein Mroueh, and Amal Najjar, aimed to defy the status quo and offer help to this marginalized and overlooked section of society. TAMAS’ main goal is to address the main and hidden factors that led to the development of criminal behavior in juveniles, paving the way towards a more regrouped and reintegrated society. “The primary goal of the juvenile justice system is rehabilitation not punishment. So, by reintegrating juveniles or by resocializing them, we aim to address the underlying factors that led to the development of the criminal behavior, providing them with the necessary skills, education, and support they need in order to go back to the society and basically reduce the likelihood of reoffending and reverting back to old criminal habits,” quotes Rawan from TAMAS.

What started as an idea, turned into reality when TAMAS participated in INJAZ Lebanon’s TAQA program. TAQA is part of the Generation of Innovation Leaders (GIL) program, powered by UNICEF Lebanon and funded by the Kingdom of Netherlands. The pitching jury was excited by TAMAS’ idea and their bravery to challenge society and de-stigmatize such an unfairly treated portion of society and so, decided to grant them the monetary funds required to test their idea and put it on the ground. “Before entering the TAQA youth well-being competition, TAMAS was only an idea that we discussed among ourselves. So, TAQA was TAMAS' gateway into the world where it provided us with the right mentorship, audience, and one-on-one interviews with business and mental health specialists needed to get us on the right track and to actually winning the competition later on,” says Amal from TAMAS.

Most notably, TAQA was TAMAS’ ticket to participate in the World Bank Youth Summit where out of 3000 participant teams, 3000 initiatives and ideas, only 6 were chosen! Proudly, we can assure you that our beloved TAMAS was one of those selected teams to undergo pitching at the World Bank headquarters in Washington. After presenting its idea, TAMAS won the Audience Choice Award, gaining the love of more than a 1000 real-life audience and 1500 virtual ones! It must’ve been quite the presentation TAMAS pulled to win the hearts of so many! “I felt really impowered by the comments by the comments I received. I felt that what we’re pitching as an idea is not only impactful in Lebanon and the MENA region, but it also can be an international project in the future,” adds Amal from TAMAS.

You must be wondering why it’s important to reintegrate juveniles into society. Well, many of these youths were unjustly detained as they were present, as the saying goes, ‘in the wrong place and at the wrong time.’ Moreover, such youth are more prone to committing criminal offenses if they’re not properly directed towards a more law-abiding and ethical path. As youth are easily influenced by outside factors, both positive and negative ones, it’s important to strive to reintegrate them back into society as being shunned by it at such young ages could eventually prohibit them from attaining a job and leading a fulfilled life, which serves as a catalyst for their recidivism.

“We believe that we're able to understand and pinpoint the exact problem and more importantly we are able to emphasize with the juvenile detainees and look at them as human beings,” explains TAMAS.

TAMAS aims to deliver its message through a 3 course program: pre, during, and post, that also incorporates the journalism sector to help spread their cause. In the ‘pre’ level, TAMAS aims to teach the juveniles the causes and consequences of their wrongdoings. In the ‘during’ level, they aim to help them develop empathy and learn alternatives to violence. And in the ‘post’ level, TAMAS will be teaching a set of skills required in the workforce market and deliver awareness sessions to the society on the importance of reintegrating juveniles back into it.

“TAMAS is exposing both ends of youth groups, which are thee educated youth and the incarcerated youth. We’re putting them together and hoping that this exposure would benefit both in terms of experience for educated youth, and in terms of guidance for incarcerated youth,” quotes TAMAS.

TAMAS continues to advocate for youth reintegration and INJAZ Lebanon would like to wish them the best of luck in their strife towards creating a more inclusive society. However, such work and progress wouldn’t have happened without the help of INJAZ Lebanon’s sponsors and beneficiaries. For this reason, INJAZ Lebanon would like to kindly thank UNICEF Lebanon and the Kingdom of Netherlands for their unwavering support in developing a more conscious, more humane generation of Lebanese entrepreneurs.


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