„YMCA Europe is a working fellowship to strengthen movements where people grow in body, mind and spirit.“

Catch the Vision 2006, Kosovo

Catch the Vision - Seminar 2004 in Prizren, Kosovo

Place: Prizren, Kosovo
Dates: 19-23. November 2004

Hosting movement: YMCA in Kosovo
Venue: The Theranda Hotel in Prizren.

Represented countries:
Albania (3), Armenia (1), Czech Republic (3), Kosovo (5), Malaysia (1), Northern Ireland (2), Italy (1), Norway (1), Poland (2), Romania (3), Russia (1), Switzerland (1), Slovakia (1), The Netherlands (1), Ukraine (1).

General information and approach
The first time the European Alliance of YMCAs organised a Catch the Vision-seminar, was in Herlikovice in the Czech Republic in the year 2000. The second time it was held in Jerusalem and Ramallah in 2002, and the one in Prizren was the third. The next one is planned in Armenia in 2006.

These events are an important part of EAY Strategy, and through all of them is searched the Christian vision of the YMCA-movement as well as the Spiritual Roots for Reconciliation. The intention of this seminar was not to establish the permanent solution for the sorrows of the contemporary world, but through learning, practical activities and reflection to inspire the present individuals to create a personal attitude to the process of reconciliation. Eventually, this should contribute to the process of shaping modern YMCA ideology.

- Introduction to Kosovo
Murat Bajrami, the General Secretary presented the past and the present of Kosovo providing fact and figures that concern this part of then Balkans.

A folk group presented national dances and songs from the area. They were full of symbolism which was being explained by the Albanian participants.

- Theological reflection
Brother Anthony Rogers, FSC from Malaysia presented divagations around fundamental values and ideas of human existence and activity. The reflections on the Bamboo Liturgy emphasised the need of self-sacrifice for the sake of common good, which was relevant also in the environment of Kosovo, where ethnic, political or religious differences have been appearing in front of the natural right of common peaceful coexistence.

- Group work
These workshops were run by Michael Wardlow from Northern Ireland. By various practical activities they served better understanding the truths of other people: individuals or groups. They also pointed to the necessity of respecting diversity and richness of religions and culture. Recognition of the rule of being different yet equal is a challenge, but also a fundamental condition for reconciliation.

- Trip to a Serb enclave
Visit to the Serb enclave in Brezovica was another indirect contact with the present reality of Kosovo. The participants had an opportunity of seeing KFOR troops who protected the Serb minority, talks to the accidentally officers of UN mission, visit an Orthodox church as well us watch the life of locals in the village.

- Visits to the Mosques and the Catholic Cathedral Church in Prizren
Visits to mosque and taking to the Imam was an opportunity of learning about the attitude of Muslim clergy in Kosovo towards other creeds. The expressed views are far away from hostility and intolerance and close to peaceful way solving problems. Important information about Muslim - Christian relationships were provided also by the catholic priest during the visit to the cathedral. The tensions between the Serb and Albanian ethnic groups are conveyed to the relationships with the Orthodox church and do not concern all Christian confessions.

- YMCA in Kosovo people's experience
Very personal memories and opinions of some young YMCA members told in a form of stories from the times war, ethnic cleansing and the riots which had happened in the spring were a realistic and touching illustration of the mental state of the youth population. And also showed the dimension of the challenge of reconciliation in the post-war community, burdened with such a trauma, has to face.

- Models of reconciliation in the Balkans - panel discussion
Murat Bajrami facilitated the discussion, and the persons in the panel were Armando Husa from Albania, Marius Pop from Romania and Rudolf Krasniqui from Kosovo. They displayed examples of ethnic, social and religious conflicts in Albania, Kosovo and Romania as well as the ways of handling them. They also presented practical forms of dealing with such issues implemented by YMCA organisations in those countries. The challenges their organisations must face in the nearest future were important part of the presentations.

- Ecumenical worship
The need of inter faith dialogue and common responsibility for the peace in the world were demonstrated in the worship conducted by father Evegeniy Zhabkovsky from Ukraine. In the worship participated believers of Muslim, Catholic and Protestant religions.

- The YMCA International Peace Day
The Day was celebrated during the seminar and the ideas of peace, love, justice and trust as essential for reconciliation were integral elements of most sessions.

- "We believe that YMCA is our organisation to change the world in a better direction"
Johan Vilhelm Eltvik, EAY Secretary General gave the summary of reflections about the role of YMCA in the process of reconciliation. That was put in the main Seminar document accepted by the participants and in a form of letter was send around YMCAs around the world.

- News from the YMCAs in the Balkans
Because of the place and presence of Balkan YMCAs, during the event was presented the development of the Organisation in the Balkan countries, international co-operations in the Region and plans for the future. It was done by the representatives of particular Balkan movements and EAY staff.