• Peace Messengers across Ukraine and Russia: the Message in the Bottle project

    Olga from SVIT-Ukraine, who also took part to the Peace Messengers training in Marly-le-Roi, shares her experiences about the Message in the Bottle project, run by a group of SCI branches and partners in Eastern Europe (Youth Memorial (Perm), SFERA, Ecocenter Zapovedniks, AVI-Moldova, SVIT-Ukraine, Youth Human Rights Movement).

    Autumn! It's not just time for counting chickens and collecting stones. It's also time for take stock, share experiences and impressions, and encourage new ideas. This summer SVIT-Ukraine jointly with partners held the first educational project called "Message in the bottle". During the two hottest months of volunteering - in August and September - a group of multipliers (messengers) visited various international camps in Ukraine and Russia in order to conduct training sessions, talks and educational events.

    Subjects of these sessions was associated with the notion of "peace" in its broadest sense - it's conflict resolution, overcoming stereotypes, xenophobia and racism, the role of media in modern life, migration and freedom of movement, human rights, as well as relations between the countries of Region (Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova).

    At the preparatory stage a group of young people interested in the topic was invited to the training of trainers near Kharkiv where they had the opportunity to discuss topics of the project, methods of work and plan a route visiting volunteer camps. So they discussed all "Where? When? How?", as well as many other interesting questions related to future work with international volunteer groups in the camps.

    The second step was to directly visit the camps. Messengers visited camps in Russia and Ukraine. Guests for 2-3 days were part of everyday life of the camp, spent free time with participants and organized educational activities. A special messenger's role was to enable participants to reflect on the camp the issues of today. For many people volunteering is changing views on life style and personal ideas - you're helping others and have the opportunity to understand many cultures and to feel that this world is really a coloured ball, and "Peace" - it's not just "don't beat and don't kill", but it's respect and understanding attitude towards those who are different from you, protecting the environment, to take another culture, not because you like them - but because of respect.

    In addition for three days these messengers are part of a group of volunteers of camp. And the most important is not to be educator or trainer, but doing of call of your heart, to understand the world around you and allow the world to understand you.

    So there is hope that next year we will see more active youth who want to share experience of bringing message to coloured and boundless space of the world of volunteering. It's a wonderful opportunity to develop their own skills, learn to work with people, practice languages and other useful knowledge, and learn many interesting things.

    With hope and looking forward to next summer :)

    Olga, SVIT-Ukraine

  • We must be the change we wish to see. (Mohandas K Gandhi)