ABOUT ROOTS PROJECT
The YMCA has historically assumed the role of working in and with conflicts as central to its service delivery. Committed to these historical roots and legacy, YMCA Europe has constantly initiated and implemented one-go projects and long-term programmes in the conflict transformation field. Peace and Justice continuously remain a key priority within the YMCA Europe Strategy. The YMCA Europe Roots for Reconciliation long-term and large-scale initiative, successfully ongoing since 2007 remains a best practice in this line, continuing to build capacities and organisational culture for peace within its network and constituency and for the communities they serve.
YMCA Europe Roots for Reconciliation project is on-going since 2007, and has so far been implemented in three phases:
The original aim of the project was to strengthen and extend the YMCA in the region of South Caucasus as a mass-membership movement standing for peace, justice and integrity of creation. Central to the way the project worked at that stage was through enhancement of camping programme as a shared activity that connects young people across socio-political and cultural dividers.
“The Roots for Reconciliation project had been very successful in devising a process that creates a safe space for relationship-building based on Do No Harm principles. They have done this on the basis of what can be characterised as a deep love for their fellow young men and women. It is this ability to engender love across cultural and political dividers that represents the main achievement of the project.” YMCA Europe Roots for Reconciliation Project Report of External Assessment: Bruce Britton, 2009.
Starting with the second phase of the project its overall aim shifted further towards the external impact, which is empowering youth activism towards prevention and peaceful transformation of conflicts in Europe, the region of South Caucasus especially considered.
“The project has been highly relevant to the values, mission, and strategic priorities of YMCA Europe, as well as to the interests of its youth participants, particularly those coming from conflict-affected or post-conflict countries. It has provided a coherent framework for the promoting peace building and cross-border dialogue into the work of local and national YMCA organisations and across the YMCA Movement.” YMCA Europe Roots for Reconciliation II Project Outcome Evaluation: Bill Streland,2015.
The Roots has developed human and resource mobilization capacities, effective methodology and best practice programme delivery tools that can be easily multiplied to new circumstances and dimensions. It has developed its identical safe space methodology, based on Do No Harm approach. It has elaborated number of best practice conflict transformation schemes, such as the Peace Work Institute (including Guidebook) or the Local Capacities for Peace components.
CURRENT PHASE 2020 - 2022
It should be within the paramount interest of the global community to contribute towards building the peace, as it represents the basis of prosperity and progress. And it is essential to address the issue at grassroots level, since it is impossible to achieve real peace until the society is prepared and ready for it. History knows many cases when peace deals had been brokered by top leaders, but they have never been exercised as not being representatives of real attitudes of the society. Agreements can be reached by governments, but their implementation is solely up to the communities – and achieving the critical mass of people ready to live peacefully is the key. That is why it is important to sustain and expand peace-building activities to the maximum level possible – ensuring wider outreach and impact.
Placing the focus on future generation while addressing the issue is fundamental; youth are normally the ones most affected by conflicts – with developmental opportunities completely cut or severely limited, they are compelled to search for those outside their communities and countries. Therefore, they are also the ones that seek solutions with most determination and are most prepared for a real positive change.
No matter the place of origin and/or living conditions, the modern young people are exposed to different informational outlets through various digital means and thus It is way more difficult to manipulate them with usual methods of propaganda; and this factor makes them much more open for dialogue and cooperation with “the other side” – something that has been evidently demonstrated within three phases of “Roots for Reconciliation” Project in 2007 – 2019 period.
Therefore, it is crucial to grant young people with as many opportunities as possible to be involved in dialogues, peace-building and conflict resolution initiatives and actions. Youth drastically need the platforms where their voices will be heard; their priorities will be taken into account; and where they can elaborate and implement projects that may and will tackle the root causes of conflicts – stereotypes, misunderstanding & lack of trust.
Within the Roots, we plans the enrolment of the following target groups into the project framework:
- youth opinion leaders and youth workers;
- conflict affected youth - both prioritized because of being pragmatic actors for peace.
Under youth opinion leaders and youth workers we assume primarily the age group over 25 years old, with equal gender-based inclusion. These are first of all the PWI alumni of the previous Roots phases (50), and the PWI participants of the Roots current phase (25) – 75 in total. Coming from all over Europe, yet predominantly from the project targeted countries, these women and men have been and will be selected to be the driving force of the Roots. Continued activities for and with them aimed at their personal development and behaviour change is expected to form the project’s “peace cohort” ready to lead transformation and change within and beyond it.
Under conflict affected youth we primarily assume the age group between 16 – 30 years old, with equal gender inclusion and predominantly coming from the project targeted countries. Minimum 300 young women and men directly and many more indirectly will be benefiting from these activities. Besides, through the Roots Peace Work Institute tandem projects’ component, and based on the same aforementioned selection criteria, another 100 young women and men directly and many more indirectly will be benefiting from this Roots component, totalling the estimated number of this target group at 400.
As the internal impact of the project, it is expected that the Roots will have its added value on the strengthening of the European, national and local YMCAs involved in its framework. It will influence the participating organisations to either re-orient their strategies towards greater civic engagement in peace building or strengthen existing strategies in this direction.
EXPECTED OUTCOME AND IMPACT
The development goal of this project phase is: Young people are empowered as actors for prevention and peaceful transformation of conflicts in Europe.
The specific project objective is: Young women and men from conflict regions have changed their attitude towards dealing with conflicts and are involved in peace-building measures.
Based on the learning from the external evaluations of the previous Roots phases below mentioned qualitative indicators are agreed and to be tracked, namely:
- Attitude Change;
- Behaviour Change.
In order to achieve the expected outcomes and impact YMCA Europe plans to implement the following activities, which are clustered in the following logical sets.
- Peace Work Institute (PWI);
- Peace Programme Festivals (ProFests);
- Local Capacities for Peace Award;