BILADI is an independent Lebanese non-governmental organization (NGO) who is covering multiple fields of (cultural) heritage since 2005, supported by long-term established partnerships on a national and international level. The NGO strongly believes that heritage is a basic human right and that everyone should be able to know, love and share his own history.
“We believe that heritage is a human right that defines cultural identity, enhances self-esteem and strengthens resilience.”
On the field, BILADI works in two main areas:
In order to reach these ambitions, the organization is continuously developing methods and applying them to make heritage more appealing to young generations while integrating previous generations’ experiences and traditions. By the means of educational activities and trainings, BILADI seeks to address all groups beyond their national identities or religious affiliations for the purpose of overcoming cultural differences.
In a region going through profound crisis and changes, safeguarding heritage becomes an essential tool for keeping populations grounded and attached to their cultural identity as well as providing them stability. This conforms to the regional experiences of BILADI’s founder and manager, Joanne Farchakh Bajjaly, archaeologist and journalist, who worked for many years on heritage in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq.
During her time as a journalist covering the war on Iraq, Joanne Farchakh Bajjaly witnessed a systematic process of looting, destructing as well as damaging museums and archeological sites, which resulted in a shift of priorities putting basic needs on the foreground whilst diminishing the standing of heritage for its population. Back in Lebanon, she realized that defending heritage had to be part of the educational system in order to ensure that young generations in conflict and post-conflict countries are aware of their history and can reintegrate heritage in their way of living.
At this point, BILADI was created as a medium to narrow the huge gap between today’s generations and the heritage of their forefathers. Starting with on-site tours and workshops at historical, archaeological and natural sites for the youth, BILADI was initially fully dedicated to heritage education and delivered teaching materials as well as learning concepts.
Over the years, it became clear that particularly professionals working within heritage institutions play a tremendous role in safeguarding and maintaining heritage, but that the implementation is lacking behind. This is a consequence of many different stakeholders without a clear division of responsibilities and missing skills in terms of safeguarding cultural property, specifically in emergency situations. Foster the protection and maintenance of cultural heritage in Lebanon, raise awareness and educate people from the young to the old has therefore become a long-time mission of BILADI.