2017, November 12-18. Berlin. Fifty-seven years ago there was a city where its people were over night separated by a long wall. It was in a moment when the country was still recovering from terrors of previous wars. The wall remained there for 28 years and for Berliners and for the whole country it was a start of another trauma.
Visiting Berlin in November was accompanied by “Nieselregen” from a grey cloudy sky which created a very special nostalgic atmosphere. Numerous war memorials were constantly cropped by the water, from time to time shining in the sun. Locals walk among these along tourists without any excitement, except for some contemporary art installations which may raise the interest of them as well. This time there are three buses wisely installed right behind Brandenburger Tor. The buses are in vertical position and are for sure provoking all kinds of feelings in passengers. If you come closer, thanks to the info shield you realize that people used buses like this to protect and defend themselves in Aleppo. In an actual cruel war in Syria. Today we need to put three gigantic buses right into our faces to think about something else than ourselves.
YMCA Europe is gathering young people from different countries in long term project Roots for reconciliation. Its part – Peace Work Institute brings together people from countries which were and unfortunately are in conflict and enables these young entrepreneurs to act exactly where they see it is necessary.
I can not imagine a better place for its second part than Berlin. Group of young active leaders from Armenia, Albania, Azerbaijan, Slovakia, Serbia, Kosovo, Turkey, Georgia, Portugal, Russia, Ukraine, Nagorny Karabakh, Croatia, Great Britain and Germany spent one week in Sophienhof, in a loveliest part of Berlin. In a quiet Jewish neighborhood we spent hours by creating the firm base for our future projects. Thanks to the support of Wolfgang Heinrich we received basic knowledge about DO NO HARM. A methodology by Mary Anderson which is used world wide to analyse the environment before implementing any project into conflict areas while trying to decrease the undesired effects to minimum.
As the outcome of this second session three projects have been defined, its dates have been set, the responsible teams were chosen and during next summer we will realize three different tandem projects which aim to promote peace through digital activism, music and theater and we will look closer at the situations in our countries regarding national identity and what it means for us.
Let the summer 2018 come and be sure you are with us!
By Helena Hajkova, YMCA Slovakia