It is very hard to speak about my general experience in such a huge Peace-work project as Roots for Reconciliation; I would talk for hours and recollect hundreds of memories. It’s been a great privilege to be a part of RfR. For past 4 years I have met so many people with the same visions and desires for peace – as me, they have taught me a lot and I hope I’ve taught them something too.
Every time heading towards new adventure through RfR my biggest aim was to hear as much as I could from the other participants, because their stories were so motivating and eye-opening. Everyone was always very open-minded and ready to share; it created safe space, atmosphere around us so free and at the same time so delicate, that every small thing that was said could affect everyone around the room. So everyone cherished each other.
As I go back to the beginning I remember how I first joined RfR. It was the pro-fest in Shushi, Karabakh. I was invited as a participant and wanted to go very much, but I was uncertain, because of the conflict situation in Karabakh. I was really passionate to go, but at that time I was 17 years old and my parents were deeply involved in my decision-makings. But at the end I could get their approval and these became start of the new chapter in my life. I went to Shushi which was my first international program festival through YMCA. From that day began my journey with RfR.
During RfR I have become more understanding, compassionate, open-minded, and self-confident; and these are only some of the changes that happened in me as a person.
As in real life there have been ups and downs. We created an amazing Tandem Project together with YMCA Russia – which was planned in details during 2 years of work and everyone was so looking forward for it. Group of young people from Georgia were supposed to visit Russian Camp and spend time together with Young people from Russian community. But unfortunately the project had to be postponed because of the political issues we had to face. Best thing about RfR is that no one gives up on a small failure, just like our group and we managed to arrange an amazing and truly life-changing event in the Camp of YMCA Georgia, where we could implement all the planned activities and workshops. It was really one of the best events in my life.
In February 2015 one phase of RfR ended, we had reunion and the evaluation of the project. I am looking forward of its continuation in which I will be gladly involved with all my experience and desire to help in process; and welcome to all the future participants.
Ani Kalabegashvili, YMCA Georgia