Graffiti for Peace

 Another Initiative funded by the Small Grants Programme “Youth Powers”.

The young people of Cyprus gathered and express themselves through the art of Graffiti. The initiative was an idea of Petros Herakleous and was funded by the Small Grants Programme “Youth Powers”. The aim of the project was to promote the peace and reconciliation among the Greek and Turkish Cypriot youth through the art of graffiti. The project had the support of the Greek Cypriot organization “Peace Centre” and the Turkish Cypriot association “E.M.A.A: European Mediterranean Art Association”.

The project implemented in four phases. In the first phase it the participants and the artists disgusted about the political perception of the art and how the artists may endorse the ideals of peace and reconciliation through their work. During the first phase, the participants developed their skills in the art of graffiti with the help of experienced graffiti artists. During the second phase it took place a demonstration by graffiti artists. In the third phase groups of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriot youth created their own graffiti. In the fourth phase it took place an exhibition of the art work of the participants  to the public in Limassol and Famagusta.

The Buffer Zone became a place of art, creativity full of “youth” and “power”, the art work of the participants is still there giving a positive message. The young people from the two communities met each other and exchanged views through the art of graffiti leaving behind any kind of stereotypes. The youth of Cyprus gave the message of peace.

Congratulations to Youth Powers Cyprus, Petros Herakleous, Peace Centre and E.M.A.A: European Mediterranean Art Association.

Find more information about the project HERE.

Civil Society and Democracy Building: The youth perspective

The civil society or alternatively the third sector is an important stakeholder in the society because it gives voice to the citizens by empowering various social structures. The promotion of non-governmental and non-profit organizations is associated with the peace construction in conflict areas. The education is a field that could stimulate the active youth participation and the tolerance among the people. The educators can shape a culture of tolerance and acceptance among the young people from different backgrounds.

Nowadays, traveling from one country to another is easier than before due to high technological improvement and also to social and historical changes, such as, the European integration. The European citizens can cross the borders within the European Union without a visa. However, the Human Rights are still violating. A general knowledge about the Human Rights doesn’t establish a culture where the human rights are respected; as a result, the Human Rights Education is more than necessary. The Council of Europe published two manuals on Human Rights Education, “Compasito” for children up to 13 years old and “Compass” for teenagers and adults. The civil society should advocate for the integration of the Human Rights Education to the formal education curricula by engaging the key education shareholders, such as Ministry of Education, teachers platforms, parents and students, to the dialogue.

The web 2.0 platforms may reinforce the civil society’s campaigns about peace and democracy because it is a way to participate, spread campaigns and exchange good practices with other people globally. The digital media could be characterized as the revolution in the field of communication, each one of us, has the chance to share his/her views and learn about new ideas and tendencies. The e-participation is a youth friendly form of active participation because the young people are familiar with the social media platforms such as facebook, twitter and blogs. The civil society has a unique chance to boost their campaigns through the social media; the young people tend to pay more attention to facebook posts than to emails. On the other hand, the civil society actors and the young people should be equipped with “digital skills”, in order, firstly to endorse their ideas efficiently and secondly to avoid some traps. According to the above, it was build the argument that the “digital education” should be part of the school programmes as well.

The civil society should also boost the youth volunteerism in the border regions between countries where there is a conflict and also lack of democracy. The borders have their own linguistic and cultural identity; the people tend to speak both languages, there are influences from the traditions of both countries and many mixed marriages. The most striking fact in conflict areas is the sense of belonging, people either feel they belong to both countries or they feel they don’t belong anywhere. The youth volunteerism, through many projects and programmes, in the short-term may facilitate the trust building among the people in the borders and the people who come from regions far away from the borders. In the long-term this could lead to a further development of the values of democracy and peace.

Currently, the economic crisis and the related emerging problems are making the work of the civil society organizations more difficult. In my opinion, the involvement of the young people in the democracy building process is more than essential because the youngsters will be the future citizens thus the future voters. The launch of democracy is connected with an active youth that defend and protect the Human Rights by thinking globally and acting locally.

The article was published in mahallas.com