3 minutes reading time (634 words)

Saving Lives – One Student At a Time

In a school in a town South of Lebanon, a young boy rushes out of class on a Friday excited to get home and start the weekend. He exits the school gate onto a crowded road that leads to a concealed curve where cars rush by. There is no pavement, no footpaths, and no security measures. The child runs up and down the street looking for his mother, stuck in the usual heavy traffic around the school… 

Last year alone, 83 children under 14 years of age lost their lives in road accidents. Many of these accidents took place within the school's perimeter. Live Lebanon is launching the Green Light zone Project to reduce the number of casualties by providing a safe environment for students within and around the school.

Children In Direct Danger

In a country that already suffers from traffic jams, lax traffic laws, and inefficient road safety measures, schools and their peripheries should provide safety for children and their guardians.

Most schools in Lebanon do not properly equip their surroundings and campuses with correct safety mechanisms to avoid vehicular-related accidents: entrances and exits are unsafe, there are no crosswalks or pedestrian crossings, the drop down and pick up procedures are risky and unorganized, and there is a lack of appropriate traffic signs and isolated parking spaces.

In 2013 and 2014 alone, 163 children aged 0 to 14 who were either passengers in a vehicle or pedestrians, became fatalities of car crashes, whereas 660 children were seriously injured.

There is a Recipe For Prevention

The Green Light Zone Project aims to improve the safety of the various processes for getting to and from school. It consists of three aspects:

  • Physical adjustments to the infrastructure around schools by building crosswalks, sidewalks installing traffic and speed limits signs.
  • Increasing awareness and knowledge among the children, parents and drivers in the community about safety by changing their behavior through a national campaign.
  • Setting policies, establishing and enforcing speed limits, ticketing drivers and illegally parked vehicles, and managing street vendors.

Starting From Marjeyoun

Marjeyoun is a district in south Lebanon that is home to many Lebanese and, recently, Syrian families. Six schools (private and public) welcome approximately 1752 Lebanese and Syrian children. There are no safety measures whatsoever around the schools and the area specifically has a history of vehicular-related accidents: the entrances and exits are unsafe, cars/buses are driven on campus without any pedestrian passages, there are no sidewalks or common zones, and parking lots within the vicinity are unsafe.

The municipality of Marjeyoun is ready to support the project and enforce the security measures required.

The project costs $144,630 and it includes the preparation (assessment, training for bus drivers, training curriculum for students of all ages, workshop for parents and teachers) and implementation period (construction of sidewalks and footpaths, installing mirrors, and equipping buses with seatbelts and safety signals). 

 Safe Environment in Focus

We want to provide a safer environment for children on their way to and from school. This includes ensuring a safe walk to school, alleviating traffic conflicts, providing a clear understanding of the roles and responsibilities of all parties involved in road safety in and around the school, and finally, raising awareness about the vitality of committing to school road safety. There is nothing more important than the lives of our children. An accident can happen to anyone. Let us be proactive and secure the environment for kids. Through our efforts, we have so far pre-collected $110,000, but much more is needed in order to meet the challenge and create a change. Visit livelebanon.org and donate for the Green Light Zone project.

The Green Light Zone is supported by Live Lebanon, a UNDP initiative. Live Lebanon reaches out to the Lebanese diaspora worldwide and gives them the opportunity to support the people in their homeland that are in need with important community based initiatives.

Author: Rawad Rizk

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Wednesday, 26 January 2022