The Slum of the Slaves in Mina. (The Daily Star/Samya Kullab)
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The last wisp of sunlight before nightfall paints the seaside slum where Sheikh Imad Bkhit lives deep lavender.The paint, as Bkhit explains, is new. The squalor of residents living in the Slum of the Slaves, as the area is locally known, was more obvious before a group of eight youths came together and decided to paint over it and give the area new life. The slum is located on Mina's Freedom Street, a wide residential thoroughfare notorious for prostitution and drugs, home to 600 people.The history of the slum itself is contested. The confrontations that ensued during this time still mark the slum.A committee of community elders was formed to oversee the area, but, as Bkhit explains, theirs was a reign marked by "bad vision".Going home from university, Bkhit and his friends would pass the jeers of unemployed men stooping on the sidewalks.By 2011, the committee had managed to supply the slum with water and fix damage electricity cables and the broken street lights lining the slum.Politics, so endemic to Lebanese society, still threatens to undermine the work of the youth committee.The popular committee went to politicians and asked for help to control the slum.
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