Peaceful Nature Camp (02.07.2010)

2-8 July, Kritou Terra, Paphos

Week-long camp organized by KAYAD Community Centre in cooperation with Cyprus Environmental Studies Centre. 42 Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot young adults (17-25 years old) had the opportunity to discuss and creatively examine a wide variety of social and environmental issues. Activities included discussion groups, training workshops and fieldtrips, focusing on matters such as bio-diversity, environmental sustainability, education, peaceful conflict management and social justice (ie. gender stereotypes, multiculturalism and human rights), and how these can be achieved in Cyprus. Among other matters, the participants discussed how to achieve a better understanding between the different communities in relation to the historical events in Cyprus over the last half century. Between learning sessions, participants relaxed together over meals and social activities, building new friendships and bonds.

Comments:

Fezile Osum, 19, participant:
“I found it to be a really interesting and sometimes emotional experience. This camp showed me clearly that Greek and Turkish Cypriots can live together, having many common values... We discussed many different issues, learned new points of view, and developed really good relationships... I believe that every young Cypriot would benefit from participating in programs like this. They would discover, as we did, the great similarities between the two communities, and realize that a positive intention and love are the essentials needed to find good solutions for any problems we may face. I also feel happy that I was able to get to know my country better. I saw many beautiful parts of our island, famous beaches such as Aphrodite’s Rock and environmentally important areas like Akamas that, as a young Turkish Cypriot, I was not aware of before.  Finally, I believe that the solution that every Cypriot hopes for will come from cooperation, creativity, tolerance and love: exactly the things that I experienced in this camp. I feel proud once again to be a Cypriot.”

Valentinos Demetriou, 20, participant:
“Despite the differences of religion and also the different ideas that each group holds regarding history, in the end we managed to show that not only is it possible, but actually essential for us all to find a way to coexist peacefully in Cyprus. At the same time, the organizers helped us to start thinking in a more environmentally friendly way, by showing us the problems, creating debates and taking us to areas of environmental importance. For myself, the fact that I learned what “Sustainable Development” means as a concept, what is happening in Cyprus and what individuals can do about sustainability, made me concerned about what will be the fate of Cyprus if things do not change quickly towards environmentally sustainable living. To conclude, I would like UNDP ACT and USAID to continue funding this type of camp as I see that it is essential for the people of both communities to connect with each other on a personal basis and to become better informed on all of these important issues.”