Tetovo – The “Empowering Youth for Peace and Security” workshop, a joint initiative by the Center for Education and Development and Multikultura, supported by RYCO, was successfully conducted on 22 and 23 December 2023 in Tetovo, Polog Region. This two-day workshop engaged 20 young participants from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds in the Polog Region.
On the first day, the workshop started with the arrival and registration of 20 eager participants. The first session outlined the program’s goals and expected outcomes, with the day’s focus on capacity building for peaceful engagement. The participants explored various strategies and skills essential for effective and peaceful community involvement. After a coffee break, the workshop continued with a session on the Youth, Peace, and Security (YPS) agenda, providing a foundational understanding of the YPS principles and their relevance to the participants’ context. The following session centered on lobbying and engaging youth in political decision-making.
The second began with a session focused on the implementation of campaigns for youth, peace, and security, focused on practical exercises on designing and executing impactful campaigns. The second workshop covered mobilizing young people in building peace and security, with an emphasis on community-level actions and the role of young people in fostering a secure and peaceful environment. After lunch, the workshop covered follow-up activities, guiding participants on how to continue their engagement and apply acquired skills in their communities. The event concluded with a closing ceremony, during which participants received certificates for participation.
Results can be visible through the completion of a comprehensive two-day program by 20 participants, their better understanding of the YPS Agenda, and their developed skills in lobbying, campaign implementation, and community mobilization. By empowering a group of young people with the knowledge and skills necessary to advocate for peace and security in their communities, the workshop succeeded in its initial goals.
As a follow-up, ongoing activities include participants implementing their ideas, with regular meetings and mentorship sessions intended to provide guidance and support – crucial for ensuring the practical application of the workshop, as well as making an impact in the communities of the Polog Region.
Building on this, on December 24th, LBO North Macedonia visited the Peace Mural located on the Street of Peace in the Old Skopje bazaar today, along with a group of twelve youngsters from Tetovo and Skopje. This mural, depicting prominent activists such as Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, and Emma Goldman, was the focus of the visit.
The decision to paint this particular wall was deliberate, as it used to be covered with messages promoting hate speech. The aim was to eliminate the negative atmosphere in the bazaar, which is considered a shared space for everyone. The project was realised with the help of Peace Action and activists Veljon Kuci and Yetmir Asani collaborated on it in 2020. They desired the mural to be recognized as a symbol of peace, leading to the decision to rename the street to the Street of Peace in coordination with the Municipality of Chair.
Considering the wall’s history as a space for expressing anger, Asani emphasized, “Our biggest concern was people defacing this mural because previously this wall was a place to express anger, but it seems after three years it still hasn’t been scratched.” Kuci added that this indicates how people perceive and accept the mural.
The visit was organized by Peace Action, marking the second peace-related activity in which these young people participated. Their initial meeting in Tetovo involved discussions with activist Elena Saveska and photographer Arbnora Memeti, providing insights into ways young people can contribute to peace in society.
Activist Saveska highlighted the interest among young people in engaging in discussions about peace and emphasized the need for their involvement at the decision-making table. She shared examples from her Misli Malce initiative, stating that more initiatives should take place at the local level to show young people that they can bring about change.
The success of the workshop and its subsequent initiatives and activities highlight the power of collaboration between organizations committed to positive change. The collective efforts between RYCO, Multikultura, the Center for Education and Development (CED), Peace Action, the United Nations Association of North Macedonia (MUNA), and Horizon Civitas have been instrumental in creating lasting impact, through a shared vision of amplifying the voices of young people striving for peace and security.