Since its inception in 2012 and with two cohorts (2012-2014, 2014-2019) of participants that passed through it, the Roots Peace Work Institute (PWI) sought to enroll young leaders of different backgrounds from across Europe, young people who were and are a voice and not an echo – eager to learn, to try, to grow… Like raw diamonds to shine after the grind.
And we believe that most of these 46 Alumni managed to develop both personally and professionally as they journeyed through PWI.
Today we share with you the story of Maria Eduarda Costa, a positive young leader from Portugal.
Maria works as a social worker and helps people with schizophrenia to be integrated into society. In parallel, she is doing her Ph.D. in the same field and volunteers in the Red Cross.
Before Roots, Maria didn’t have any experience in peace work, but she was already engaged in conflict management. “For me, Roots is a big door for being a part of the YMCA. Usually, people come to Roots from the YMCA, but in my case it was the other way. From a smaller family, I went to a bigger one and that was very important and life-changing for me. After the years with Roots, I had the opportunity to become a member of the YMCA in Setúbal, Portugal. At the moment I am an activist and have a group of young people that volunteer for different activities”, Maria says.
Maria got to know amazing people within the Roots framework: “All beautiful human beings that I met are so special and have kind hearts. Most of them were already working or studying in peace-building, so I can say surely that I learned a lot not only from the staff and the trainers but also from the participants. And I felt that they all believed in the power of words and thoughts, they were creative, awesome and I enjoyed their company. I accepted and shared a lot with them. For me, the most amazing people are the ones who give all without any expectations. And that room was full of such people.”
For Maria, Roots is a symbol of awareness, responsibility and the “do no harm” approach. “The most important impact that Roots had on me is the way I see life. Now I believe that it’s important to have a reason to live for. I became more a citizen of the world than just a citizen of Portugal. I felt more responsible for others and I believe I can play an important role in positively changing the way people see the world. Roots helped me to understand that we are all humans – having the same rights, the same feelings, same desires. I want to play a role in making others see that”, Maria says.
At this moment Maria continues her involvement into Roots and is engaged with ”World by Word: hiSTORY behind us” international initiative.
Since 2007 and ever growing, from the South to the North, from the East to the West of Europe – the Roots has always been there for those striving to make this world a better and safer place, a peaceful home for all. We go where the need is, responding quickly to the emerging issues with the legacy and mandate, capacity and adaptability gained for all these years.
By donating to the Roots, you invest in youth opinion leaders from all corners of Europe – varied by age, ethnicity, religion, race or wealth, but united with one strong conviction – Peace is the only way!