First, I have never seen such a beautiful mountainous country more cut off from the real world and yet still so proud and satisfied. A country where only the 2 main roads are asphalt roads. A country where (minus the capital) people live in small villages without water and gas. A country where people are more hospitable, open and kind to strangers than anywhere else in the world.
Before I set out on this trip I didn’t necessarily think I could find any connection to a piece of land and a people I didn’t know much about. I knew about the war and the ongoing conflict and had read about the struggle. But if there is one thing I’ve learnt from being on this study visit to Karabakh, it’s how important it is to see things with your own eyes because stories alone aren’t enough. The stories and the lives that were affected by the continuous struggle came to life.
Traces of bullets are still seen on buildings almost everywhere in this Karabakh, a country recovering from a major ethnic conflict. While modern tall buildings are being erected alongside shabby houses in Stepanakert and while the city’s business centre with its posh hotels, beautiful shops and restaurants is as busy as anywhere in major European cities, there are still people who bear noticeable sorrow as they struggle yet with the loss of their families and loved ones in the war. Many of them say they are still waiting for justice to be administered on war criminals.
During the meetings with the federal officials, they highly spoke of the work Artsakh YMCA is doing, and offered enthusiastic expressions of support commitment and also expressed their deep appreciation for the cooperation between the local governments, communities and the YMCA, and evidence of great courage from young leaders were also an inspiration to all of us. The stories shared with us and the hospitality of the people added both physical and communal element of warmth and inclusion.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. as religious leaders we do our best to bring peace to negotiate peace and we do not hate; we believe in God. If we want God’s victory, we must love. Even if there are demonic forces at work, not only in this conflict, but in other parts of the world, we must still love.”
This trip was a life changing experience, Not only did we gain knowledge that went far beyond the textbook, we were surrounded by such talented young YMCA leaders which was such an inspiration.
The importance in coming here was not just to see the beauty of the land but also to get to know the people to learn about the situation and the aftermath of the war in Karabakh. It may have been a short experience but it was definitely a defining one that I’m so thankful for one that allowed me to a form a connection with the land, a hidden treasure, blessed bountifully by nature and its beautiful people.
It was truly amazing for me to see a country that had undergone such hardship grow to become that which it has accomplished today, and growing towards what it will accomplish in the future.
There some experiences that stay with you for the rest of your life and make you a richer person as a result (and i am not talking about monetarily) and by far this study visit has done just that for me, it will be an experience i will share with not just my colleagues, family friends but to everyone who crosses my path in life and who else gives one such experience but YMCA.
To the young leaders of Artsakh YMCA you make the YMCA proud, you INSPIRE me, I will never forget your welcoming smiles . God bless you and I truly wish you peace and may you live peacefully with your neighbors and within yourselves.
Source: Frah Saed via http://ymcagloballink.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/from-frah-with-love.html