“Peace can not be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding”. Albert Einstein
It is not easy to talk about Peace nowadays… The devastating war in Ukraine and the resurgence of military operations along the Armenian-Azerbaijan borderline are by far not the only conflicts that affect the global community nowadays, but definitely are those that all participants of the Roots Peace Work Institute personally identified with in one way or another – some lot more than the others…
And yet, they all came together in balmy autumn Yerevan in early October to reaffirm the values and creed that Roots has always stood for – that Peace has no alternative and that it is the responsibility of each and every one of us to safeguard and sustain it!
There was a lot to learn and share during the one week that participants had spent together:
From interactive educational modules (theory & group work) such as:
- Showcasing the Best Practices from Roots Local Capacities for Peace projects implemented over the current year in Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Netherlands, and Russia;
- Psycho-Social Support & Mental Health Program of YMCA Ukraine for those affected by the war;
- Analysis of these activities, identification of challenges encountered along the way, and finding the best solutions to avoid them in the future;
- Business in Conflict for Peace – what we know about corporate business engagement in (violent) conflict situations and what role the business sector can play in conflict resolution work; and how civil society organizations can cooperate with the business sector in this process;
- Monitoring & Assessment of the Projects – learning from experiences and embracing mistakes via “most instructive mistake” practical group work to ensure active and appreciative listening that leads to better reflection and learning;
- Project Cycle Management – employing Do No Harm and SMART Analysis tools for effective planning, implementation, and evaluation of peace-building initiatives and projects;
- Theory of Change – the significance of change to happen at different levels (Individual, Institutional and structural) in order to achieve desired results.
To personal reflection and development activities that made sure that participants had healthy and constructive outlets for their feelings and emotions:
- Blob Tree – Expression of the current state of feeling in pairs and subsequent representation of the counterpart;
- Exercise on Stress Management – “Paint Person in the Rain” & Using our Body as methods to alleviate stress in challenging situations;
- “Peace Maker” – interactive exercise focusing on personal emotions and the significance of sharing.
It was also the platform to get our messages across and wide: each of us recording a “How can I make the Peace happen” video note, hopefully, to inspire many others to follow our lead…
And there could be no better place to award the winners of Roots “Best Image of Peace” Photo Contest than at the house-museum of Sergo Parajanov – a free-thinker artist from Soviet times that, no matter the challenges and hardships, broke all barriers and kept creating what he believed in…
There was still time for exposure to the heritage and natural wonders of Armenia – and while the pre-Christian fortress of Erebuni, Hellenistic Temple of Garni, and medieval Geghard Monastery shed light on the rich history and the culture of the country.
An unforgettable visit to the Armenian Genocide Memorial and the lecture there from Vardan Hambardzumyan about the YMCA Humanitarian Heroes sacrificing their lives to save thousands in need made us all think deeply about our role as peace-builders, as agents of hope and love.
“When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace”. Jimi Hendrix
For more pictures follow the Flickr link.