Category Archives: Peace

Opening a digital Window to the History of Cyprus

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This article was first published on page 16 of The Cyprus Weekly (8 February 2013).

Allow me to start with a few questions: What is the relationship between medieval Cyprus and media? How can centuries-old historical artefacts be brought to life by modern technology? Can a creative interpretation of cultural heritage help cultivate a vision of a common future in Cyprus? At a small gathering at the Cyprus Community Media Centre (CCMC) on Saturday 26 January, celebrating over two year’s work on, the Cyprus Artefacts Treasure (CAT) media education project , the answers were clear in our minds.

A little bit of background to start with. In October 2011, and under the auspices of the International Children’s Film Festival of Cyprus, or ICFFCY for short, the participants in CAT 1 got together in a group comprised of 20 Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot children from Paphos and Famagusta as well as 10 adults. What we wanted was to respond to the Brussels Declaration, adopted in January 2011 under the Belgian Presidency of the European Union, which called for, amongst others, the development and promotion of “pedagogies adapted to each audience, to all ages of life, to varying social and cultural backgrounds”. And what better way to learn about the creative use of media than through the lens of history and culture!

There is often criticism of so-called ‘bicommunal’ projects for not affecting significant changes, but we beg to differ. Because we knew what we wanted to do! Our bicommunal group of eager young Cypriots and enthusiastic educators met regularly over a period of 6 months during the CAT 1 and worked on 5 animation films which illustrated each in its own unique way, a little bit of Cypriot artefacts from the Ayia Irini collection. All of a sudden through the eyes of the children emerged a blend of creativity and history that brought to life a world long forgotten, consigned for the most part to history textbooks, encyclopaedias, and dusty museum displays. In that time we also published two educational booklets about Cypriot artefacts prepared jointly by ICFFCY and the Association for Historical Dialogue and Research (AHDR).

The excitement got the better of us! In May 2012 we launched the CAT 2 with the aim of building on the success of CAT 1, and to strengthen the bonds between our two partners, the Famagusta Cultural Association and Paphos Antamosis organisation. We realised that culture and media really could be used as a vehicle for promoting a shared understanding of both past and present, for promoting trust and dialogue, and for nurturing reconciliation. This time we were focusing on medieval Cypriot artefacts.

We traversed the island visiting medieval archaeological, from St Hilarion all the way to Paphos Castle. The work was not always easy of course – there is the issue of language that we had work with, and the very obvious impact of the division of the island. But where there is a will, there is a way. And our group leaders and volunteers worked tirelessly, with a smile on their face and with tremendous energy to keep the momentum of CAT going. In the process we managed to involve not only the children but also their parents, with people experiencing the ‘other’s’ reality, which was an equally rewarding experience.

Whether there will be a CAT 3 remains to be seen. But if there are parents and teachers out there who would like to become involved with our work, or would just like to find out more information about CAT, please visit our website http://www.icffcy-cat.com.

The CAT was supported by the Bicommunal Support Programme of the US Embassy in Cyprus and organised by ICFFCY in collaboration with Mağusa Kültür Derneği in Famagusta and Antamosis in Paphos.

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Cyprus Friendship Programme 2013 Application open!

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The Cyprus Friendship Programme (CFP) has announced its application process for 2013!

CFP aims to create bonds of friendship and trust among the youth of the communities of Cyprus. Each teen from one community is ‘paired’ with another of the same gender from the other community. Each pair is then hosted in July for four weeks by a family in the United States.

To find out more click here to download information.

The Cyprus Friendship Programme (CFP) is modeled on the all-volunteer Children’s Friendship Project for Northern Ireland (CFPNI), a peace and friendship building programme that successfully brought more than 2,000 Protestant and Catholic teens (as well as their families and their friends) in Northern Ireland together throughout its 21 year existence. CFPNI came to its successful completion in 2007.

The bi-communal Cyprus Friendship Programme started in 2009 as an initiative of HasNa, a small US non-profit organisation in cooperation with a Cypriot team of coordinators. Currently, the US leg of the programme is managed by the Cyprus Friendship Programme Incorporated (CFP Inc.), a new non-governmental, non-profit organization based in the US. The Cyprus leg of the programme is managed by a bi-communal team of Cypriot coordinators. The two groups cooperate harmoniously and driven by the same passion to promote a culture of peaceful coexistence.

CFP aims to create bonds of friendship and trust among the youth of the communities of Cyprus. Each teen from one community is ‘paired’ with another of the same gender from the other community. Each pair is then hosted in July for four weeks by a family in the US.

All the coordinators of the programme in Cyprus and the US as well as the board members of CFP Inc. offer their services on a purely voluntary basis. No one gets paid. This also applies for the host families in the US who cover all the expenses of hosting the two teenagers.

Check out their activities on Youtube, or read about them on the Huffington Post!

Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage announces the implementation of emergency measures on cultural heritage sites

image009Text from a press release issued by the United Nations Partnership for the Future (UNDP-PFF) project (12 December 2012):

The Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage has announced the start-up of emergency works at the Mosque of Deneia/Denya, as well as emergency measures to prevent further damage to the building which is in a precarious condition. This will include a general cleaning of the mosque and the courtyard, removal of loose parts, consolidation of the internal arch and improvement of the courtyard fence. The works are expected to be completed by early March 2013.

Steps are also being taken for similar measures on Prophitis Elias Church at Philia (Serhatköy) and other monuments included in the project’s First Cycle Programme list.

Additional cultural heritage sites will benefit from similar interventions in the months to come. All the activities are funded by the European Union and implemented by UNDP-Partnership for the Future in collaboration with the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage.

The startup of these activities marks an important moment in the Committee’s efforts to protect and preserve the island’s rich cultural heritage.

ENGAGE on the Move promotes peace-building at Kontea Village

kontea-visitors at the ruins of the catholic church - by David Hands

Text from a press release issued by the ENGAGE – Do Your Part for Peace project, implemented jointly by the NGO Support Centre and the Management Centre (12 December 2012):

On Saturday the 8th of December 2012, the ENGAGE team of volunteers and practitioners joined locals and guests at Kontea village in the northern part of Cyprus. The excursion was part of the ENGAGE on the Move campaign, whose aim is to involve the public residing in remote and rural areas in the peace-building process.  ENGAGE on the Move took place in the context of a festive ceremony organised to commemorate the opening of the Auxiliary Buildings Courtyard which was part of the second phase of a unique project that includes elements of the rescue and preservation of an important historical site on the outskirts of the village.

The ENGAGE team attended the bi-communal event to inform the public about various peace and reconciliation issues between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities, Cyprus’ Civil Society character and the importance of Active Citizenship and volunteerism. The team also encouraged and inspired those present to voice their opinions on these matters.

The Opening Ceremony was inaugurated by US Ambassador to Cyprus H.E. Mr. John M. Koenig who stated that the Kontea locals and restoration team had gone above and beyond USAID’s expectations and emphasised his hope that the work being done at the village would prove to be a valuable reconciliation example that could be used in the near future.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Charalambos Pericleous, president of the Kontea Heritage Foundation stated that when the project first started, the courtyard as well as the relationship between the two communities was ‘in ruins’, but once the restoration process began ‘step by step, stone by stone, trust was rebuilt’.

Mr Selcan Akyel, representative of the Union of the Chambers of Cyprus Turkish Engineers and Architects, who was directly involved in the restoration process, also welcomed the participants and highlighted the importance of bi-communal cooperation to preserve historical heritage landmarks stating that ‘by working together for projects like these, we can show the general public that we can work together for peace’.

For some, the festival offered a unique opportunity to visit the beautiful village for the first time and for others it was a chance to reminisce and share childhood memories. The event proved to be a great success with over 500 active participants who enjoyed authentic Cypriot cuisine and folk music as well as traditional dances by the bi-communal dance ensemble ‘Dance for Peace’.  Younger visitors had the opportunity to work with local artist Sevcan Cerkez to create clay handprints that will be used in the creation of a sculpture to be unveiled at the ENGAGE closing ceremony in July 2013.

Young Cypriots celebrate EU Nobel Peace Prize

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Text from a press release issued by the European Commission Representation in Cyprus (10 December 2012):

Nearly 200 school children from Greek Cypriot, Turkish Cypriot and international schools as well as members of bi-communal youth organizations came today at the EU House in Nicosia to celebrate the award of the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize to the EU and watch live the Awards Ceremony from Oslo.

In an informal setting, the pupils had the opportunity to air their views on the European Union and its contribution to peace as well as on issues of more direct interest to Cyprus. The discussion was moderated by TV presenters Kyriakos Pierides (CyBC) and Aysu Basri Akter (Sim TV) and the young audience engaged in a mature dialogue with the invited guests. Former President George Vassiliou, Lellos Demetriades and Mustafa Akinci, prominent Cypriots who have made a contribution to bi-communal understanding, were amongst those who engaged in the conversation with the pupils.  Committee of Missing Persons members Gülden Plümer Küçük and Aristos Aristotelous as well as representatives of the bi-communal civil society organisation for the missing ”Together we can” Christina Solomi and Sevgül Uludağ also took part in the event. MEP Ioannis Kasoulides delivered a video message from Strasbourg.

The Bi-communal Choir for Peace in Cyprus performed at the event which was hosted by the Representation of the European Commission and the European Parliament Office in Cyprus.

”We are very happy to be co-hosting this vibrant and lively event today. We are certain that the next generations of Europeans, the next generations of Cypriots, whom we have here with us today, will be inspired from what the EU has achieved over the last sixty years and will lead the way to promote peace and prosperity in the coming sixty years,” said Georgios Markopouliotis, Head of the Representation of the European Commission in Cyprus.

On 12 October 2012, The Nobel Committee announced the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union, recognising that the union and its forerunners have for over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe. Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission and Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament received today at Oslo, Norway, the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the European Union.

It is noted that The European Union has decided to grant the Nobel Peace Prize monetary award (930 000 euro, 8 million Swedish krona) to projects that support children in war and conflict zones. More specifically, the European Union has decided to double the funds awarded and give 2 000 000 euro in total to the cause. The projects that will receive the funding will be selected in line with normal procedures for funding EU humanitarian actions.

Links of the Week: Communications for Development

The internet is an incredible source of information, and we are reading and learning every day about issues we care about. So we thought that we would share with you the 5 most interesting links from the world of media, and this week our focus is on media, or communications more generally, for development.

1) ‘Media and governance: what the academics say’

Direct from the blog of Panos London comes a post from Mary Myers, a communications for development consultant specialising in radio in Africa, who has been pondering the question of whether “a pluralistic media can make the government more accountable”. In her post, Myers grapples with the academic angle of answering “yes” to a question that in reality is quite difficult to measure, based on a report she published for the Center for International Media Assistance. Read on to find out which theorists made it onto ‘who’s who’ list of media for development gurus.

 

 

2) ‘Media, Communication and Development: Three Approaches’

Staying with the academic side of things, and a new book by Linje Manyozo from the Department for Media and Communications at the London School of Economics (LSE). According to Ørecomm: Centre for Communication and Glocal Change, the book “critically investigates the three approaches that have characterised most debates in the field of Media, Communications and Development since its emergence in the 1950s, namely, media development, media for development and stakeholder and community engagement”. Ørecomm is a bi-national research group that originated at Malmö University (MAH) and Roskilde University (RUC) for research in the field of Communication for Development, and focuses on the relations between media, communication and social change processes at both global and local levels.

 

3) Media in Fragile Environments: The IONA Methodology

Today CCMC had the pleasure in meeting Eran Fraenkel, a media consultant and trainer who was involved in the development of the United States Institute of Peace‘s Intended-Outcomes Needs Assessment, or IONA for short, methodology, which will help address the lack of clear definition of expected outcomes for media interventions in conflict situations. We will certainly be taking a close look at IONA to see how we can best integrate it within our current working framework, as well as for any future projects we will be implementing in the field of development communications.

 

 

4) Tailor-made planning for NGOs

The Panos London blog has certainly made for interesting reading this week! Bec Shaw Crompton, Panos’ head of programme operations has been blogging about an under-estimated skills-set: project management. Most of us would agree that not enough emphasis is placed on this element of the institutional development of NGOs. He recommends Project Management for Development Professionals (PMD-Pro), the first internationally accredited project management course for NGOs, created by John Cropper who was Oxfam’s head of management accountability and is now a director at LINGOS (Learning In NGOs). Next step is to find out how we can get ourselves accredited on PMD-Pro!

5) Communicating Across borders in the South Caucasus

Last but not least, an entry from Accord, an international review of peace initiatives, published by the London-based organisation Conciliation Resources. In their piece on the role of media in peacebuilding in the South Caucasus, Rachel Clogg and Jenny Norton take a look at Conciliation Resources’ work in the region from 2002 to the present, showing how their work, in conjunction with others organisations focusing on the role of the media, have helped overcome borders, both real and imagined, that have kept people apart. Needless to say we understand how valuable this kind of work is given that we are immersed in this field day in day out. Let’s hope we can have the same degree of success, and perhaps at some point in the future we can work with Conciliation Resources in pursuit of what are obviously common goals.

Youth Power party – what a night!

Last night the newly branded Youth Power – a network of twelve organisations – launched their new visual identity and Small Grants Initiative at a fantastic party at the Home for Cooperation in Nicosia’s buffer zone. The venue was packed with people enjoying the live music (violin and guitar), and watching a series of great videos made by CCMC for Youth Power, featuring their street festivals, cultural initiatives and other recent peacebuilding activities. There was also a treasure hunt, and it was great to see so many young people involved in identifying hidden symbols in the Youth Power photo exhibits on display on the night. Youth Power are a CCMC member and also a fellow partner in the wider Peace it Together (PiT) network. To read more about the PiT partners, you can follow this excellent blog, featuring a plethora of snapshots, guest posts and articles on the network.

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Join us virtually on Radio Mayis today at 4pm

Join us virtually on Radio Mayis today (96.0 FM) at 16:00. Our guest on today’s show is Sezis Thompson of Youth Power, talking about youth activism and the network’s upcoming exciting initiatives. You can also listen online through http://www.radyomayis.com.

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TedxNicosia Speakers Inspire Cyprus

Photo (C) Παύλος Βρυωνίδης

Photo (C) Παύλος Βρυωνίδης

On 30 November a locally organised event called TEDxNicosia was held at the University of Nicosia that featured inspiring speakers from across Cyprus to communicate to participants “ideas worth spreading”. The event was licensed by TED which is a nonprofit organization that began in the mid-eighties in the United States as a conference aiming to bring together professionals from design, technology and entertainment. From there it has grown into a global phenomenon that provides “riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world.” More information about TED can be found at http://www.ted.com/.

At TEDxNicosia there were almost a dozen riveting talks from various speakers about many interesting topics but the one that really stood out was the presentation of Nicos Anastasiou, who has been involved in bi-communal citizen peace building work in Cyprus for 20 years on a volunteer basis. He related to the audience the many different efforts of every day people who have tried to heal there psychological and emotional wounds stemming from the long running conflict in Cyprus. He told of school classmates reunited from across the divide after 20 years, of teens who react compassionately after learning different historical narratives and the opportunities offered by the Cyprus Friendship Programme which brings together young people from the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities and their families in an effort for those involved to better understand the human elements of the respective communities instead of just the dominate political themes. Nicos Anastasiou inspired participants to get involved in citizen peace building as a way to contribute something positive to the all the people living in Cyprus.

To learn more about TEDxNicosia please visit their website at http://www.tedxnicosia.com/.

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Future Worlds Center awarded in prestigious Euro-Med Award for Dialogue between Cultures

CCMC member Future Worlds Center has ranked second in a prestigious Euro-Med Award for the Dialogue between Cultures. FWC was also awarded an  Honourable Mention for the highly-esteemed work on intercultural dialogue for the promotion of freedom and citizenship in the Euro-Mediterranean region. Continue reading

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