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


5th December 2018

YMCA Europe's flagship programmes working together to shape the lives of young people in Europe: Leadership Academy 2017 & 2018 alumni have been given the opportunity to run their Peace project for social relevance thanks to a Seed Grant Tool by the YMCA Europe Roots for Reconciliation Programme.

I have been involved in “Roots” since 2007 and during this period had attended, managed or facilitated dozens of events and activities, met hundreds (if not thousands) of people from all over the world, of all ages and walks of life and as a result, - built a beautiful mosaic of impressions and experiences.

Yet, I have to admit that the trip to Belarus seemed like a step into unknown to me – first time to the country that is wrapped in certain mystery and with so many stereotypes attached to it. And then there was the reason of travel – meeting of youth from Belarus, Russia and Ukraine amidst the recently rekindled tensions in the region. Yes, I was worried...

Very soon I was to be proven wrong! The moment we all met in Minsk Railway Station to take a short bus ride to the event venue, I could immediately see that this group was not going to disappoint. Smiles, jokes, laughter were immediate and the youth bonded well before we started ice-breaking sessions at the training center.

31 young people mostly aged 18 – 25 and representing various local YMCAs of Belarus, Russia & Ukraine spent 5 days together (November 28 – December 02, 2018, Ratomka, Minsk Region, Belarus) – engaging in various activities aimed at fostering cooperation and team-building skills; learning about leadership development and personal growth methods, etc, with the main purpose to put the acquired skills into practice on the spot and elaborate joint ideas of future cooperation – real Impulses for Cross-Border Dialogue... The project is a YMCA Europe “Roots for Reconciliation” Seed Grant Tool Project Component. Learn more about this RFR component

So they did and very well – 5 different project ideas (promoting healthy lifestyle among young people; cooperation between youth from Russia & Ukraine; youth mental health, etc.) were developed with commitment to elaborate them further and subsequently implement with support of sending organizations.

Special thanks to facilitators: Marina Martynenko, Yana Bakalenko, Anastasya Tsygankova, Olga Lukina and the entire team of YMCA Belarus – they did simply an amazing job and are daily living the example that Peace is not a distant goal, it is within us...

And I am back at home with my mind already made up – I want to go back to Belarus!

Foto album of the event


Learn more about YMCA Europe Roots for Reconciliation Project


Author/Source: Rezi Shavladze, Project Assistant - YMCA Europe