Thank you for showing us which bridge to take

Peace is an intangible, vast concept as each one of us sees it differently. The more we discuss it, the more its depth in meaning and complexity in definition becomes obvious. The Bridges For The Future project tackled this challenge. It allowed us, the participants to discuss and deepen our understanding of the concept of peace while sharing our personal experiences. Peace, or the lack of it, ceased to be only a term overused and sensationalized in media for us and now it gained a human feeling too. A human face common to all of us. This, for me was the most impactfull takeaway from the seminar. It is a message that will be shared and passed on by the participants – I’m sure.

Kosovo Seminar Day 5-63_15148461300_l
It is a large responsibility entrusted to us, the Bridges For The Future participants to be the carriers of this universal message of peace. In these critical times of ever present shifts in all spheres of life it is easy to write off the young people as ambition-less, directionless internet-addicts. Looking at YMCA volunteers we can easily see how wrong this generalization is.

However, in a state with a long history of constant chaos and uncertainty no wonder many of the young in the conflict countries feel frustrated and discouraged. That is why YMCA volunteers need to step up and keep spreading the message of peace so faithfully presented at the Bridges seminar. Because, as we all well understood – peace gives hope and hope is a necessary condition for successful future. Only with hope and optimism things we start today, will be likely to succeed tomorrow.

YMCA Serbia volunteers became thoroughly inspired with this realization. Equipped with new, invaluable knowledge we decided to bring the YMCA Serbia activities to the next level. Instead of labeling the young in our country as “the lost generation” we turned to them and asked them (more precisely, about 20% of them in a survey) how do they feel about their future prospects and what is it they need for the coming times. While insecure about the likelihood of their plans to succeed and disappointed in the state of society, the young are hopeful and optimistic about their own abilities. They are not without ambitions at all – actually, they seek to become successful, well rounded individuals that are able not only to provide for their families, but to help out others too. However, about half of them plans to leave Serbia and start this amazing life-plan abroad.

We feel it is our responsibility to bring hope to these young people that their perfect lives can be created in Serbia. We want to offer them opportunities, level out the playing field so that a solid alternative to leaving Serbia exists right at their fingertips. We plan to start by building a youth center with many modern amenities and scholarship opportunities.

Once completed, it would be one of the biggest undertakings the young have taken up in our municipality. But we also understand the underlying issue at hand we need to work on even more diligently. It is not all about material opportunities. The young and their current situation need to become a topic widely discussed and understood in depth by entire society the young live in. A dialogue needs to occur and society needs to become more sensitive to the youth topics. Moreover, the young themselves need to realize that prosperous future depends on their efforts – and is not fully predetermined by the conditions of the society they live in. In other words, the young need to have hope. Need to be heard out. They need positive examples and positive support. They need empowerment. To provide this is our strategy and ultimate goal.

That is how we see the young will become the building blocks of a peaceful, progressive society in Serbia. Thank you for showing us which bridge to take.

Article by Martina Vitezova, Serbia

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