YMCA Georgia has been one of the key partners of YMCA Europe Roots for Peace since its inception. Indeed, Roots’ attempt to develop capacity showed great results as the campsite became a roof for various peacebuilding and youth empowerment activities. But no doubt, the building alone has no powers, but the team of young people and their dedication to YMCA and Roots has been the true force of magic.
In this article, we would like to introduce young leaders from YMCA Georgia: Mariam and Lika, and their contribution to peacebuilding.
Lika Kadagishvili is YMCA Europe Roots for Peace Peace Work Institute Second cohort alumni, while Mariam is currently a member of the 3rd cohort of the PWI. Together they have planned and implemented different peace work and youth empowerment projects, for instance, Roof for Roots and Blooming Branches: Multicultural Georgia. Those projects brought together young citizens of Georgia with different ethnic backgrounds, helping them build connections and understanding among each other.
Apart from normal activities at Camp Orange, summer 2022 was extra special for YMCA Georgia as the summer camp program included Georgia Support Ukraine – a summer camp for Ukrainian children currently living in Georgia.
Since the war started in Ukraine, Mariam and Lika and members of YMCA Georgia have been supporting the Ukrainian People with every resource at their disposal together as a team or as individuals by donating goods and spreading useful information for those in need and for those willing to help. It did not take long for them to come up with another idea to contribute to the cause – the summer camp Georgia Support Ukraine.
As the team says, the camp was a pure gesture of support and friendship between the people of the two countries. The idea of camps was born as the team realized that the number of Ukrainian refugees in the country was rising and their work at the YMCA could be relevant and helpful for Ukrainian children and young people.
The camp aimed to bring together Ukrainian refugee children to give them an unforgettable week at camp orange. The camp was designed to help children connect and help them create friendships, which would aid them to handle the hardship of being displaced more smoothly. Also, Mariam and Lika said the camp was an emotional roller-coaster from the first day of the planning, to the last day of the camp. They were afraid of how it would turn out, unsure if people would want to join, or how participants would react and act during different activities. However, as they started planning the project, the team was surprised and touched not only by the number of people registered but also by the warm messages they received together with the registration forms.
The sessions brought together over 50 young Ukrainians for week-long camp sessions that included sports activities, hiking, sightseeing, and art therapy. The camp helped young people take their minds off the current situation, make new friends, and help them heal from the trauma caused by the war in Ukraine. As the planning team members said, they had an amazing time with the children and, in fact, learned a lot from them.
We would like to thank Mariam and Lika and the hardworking team of YMCA Georgia for their dedication and contribution to peace work through their humble work.