Cyprus, in times of austerity – still… hope comes one child at a time!

Two Children Participating in a Basketball Drill During a PPI Twinning in the UN Buffer Zone

Two children participating in a basketball drill during a PPI Twinning in the UN Buffer Zone

This week’s Cyprus blog comes from PPI – CY Managing Director, Marina Vasilara. Prior to joining PPI 2009, Marina spent six years working as the Civil Society portofolio manager in human development and peace building programs for UNDP-ACT. Marina attended the Graduate School of Foreign Service of Georgetown University, where she graduated with a Masters of Arts in German and European Studies.

Angry demonstrators protest as lawmakers discuss new austerity laws in Cyprus' parliament, December 12, 2012 (Reuters / Andreas Manolis)

Angry demonstrators protest as lawmakers discuss new austerity laws in Cyprus’ parliament, December 12, 2012 (Reuters / Andreas Manolis)

As Cyprus enters a new age of austerity measures following the ECB, IMF, EU Memorandum to control public debt and spending and restore the capital adequacy of most local banks – spending is at an all-time low.  Small and medium enterprises are going quickly out of business, with shops closing one after the other and unemployment figures, especially amongst the young, running at all time highs.  However, in times like these, the need for youth programs and targeted youth development that are offered at no cost are ever more needed.  As the separation line, or Buffer Zone, continues to divide our lives and our communities, the need to keep working on finding creative ways to bring our youth together to form meaningful relationships and learn about each other, outside the formal school system and always with the help and support of the parents and our coaches, is imminent.

The realization that working together we can achieve so much more and help youth come out of the vicious cycles of blame game we have been brought up in, only comes from frequent and meaningful encounters.  At PPI-CY, we find out more about ourselves and build hope one step at a time, one child at a time, every time we bring two or more teams together, every time we come together ourselves. This is what we have learned and this is what we are working towards – to enable our kids, our coaches and our parents to have the chance to meet each other at both sides of the Buffer zone on a regular basis.

PPI-CY Managing Director, Marina Vasilara, Speaking to a Group of Children During a Twinning in the Buffer Zone

PPI-CY Managing Director, Marina Vasilara, speaking to a group of children during a Twinning in the Buffer Zone

In early 2013, we will be finalizing our curriculum which we shall be sharing with educational experts for their review as well as our parents whom we want to involve even more in the running of our programs.  We are working hard on spreading the messages of the Anatomy of Peace to educators and teachers in partnership with the authorities through the delivery of seminars. As we have been overwhelmed this year by the number of children who wanted to join our teams and the parents who wanted to become involved, we are working on finding innovative ways to make that happen.  With the leadership of our Board, we are starting a new partnership with the parents and aspire that this will be the start of a great one.  We are also building on our team of 20 LDP youth – giving them the means to be innovators and leaders in their own lives, helping them see out of the box as they make decisions that affect the rest of their lives.  And finally we are working on developing a program for our alumni, who have expressed their interest in continuing their involvement in the program, enabling us also to keep abreast of their development.

At this point, I would like to thank all those behind the Bicommunal Support Program at the US Embassy in Nicosia, AMIDEAST, the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation and PeacePlayers International who believe in the program and continue to support it in every way possible.  Without their support we would not have the means to operate.

We start the New Year full of new energy and hopes for 2013 and PPI-CY.  Our team – Thanasi, Stephanie, Ashley, Orhun and Didem are working around the clock to make this program a sustainable operation across time that brings joy and hope to all the children of Cyprus. I want to thank them dearly for this. I also want to acknowledge all our Board members – Akis, Tarik, Orhun, Ercan, Antonis, Nadia, Takis and Idil – who believe in this mission and make it happen.  I would also like to thank…again, and again…. former International Fellows Adam and Gunnar who have spent 2+ creative years with us and will always be in our hearts.

Two PeacePlayers Teams, one Turkish-Cypriot and one Greek-Cypriot, pose together during a recent Twinning

Two PeacePlayers teams, one Turkish-Cypriot and one Greek-Cypriot, pose together during a recent Twinning in the UN Buffer Zone

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One thought on “Cyprus, in times of austerity – still… hope comes one child at a time!

  1. Having traveled to Cyprus and witnessed the teams in action (and met Marina!), I’m very glad to hear about board leadership in doing outreach to parents. And impressive that PPI is trying to harness the commitment of its youth as alumni. Go PPI-CY!

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