Youth Voices for Change and Development



 The ultimate objective of the project is to support cross-border cooperation of Georgian and Armenian youth through  practice-based civic education, increased community engagement and joint implementation of small-scale projects



Society of Democratic Women of Marneuli, a non-government organisation, which was established in Marneuli in 2005, is dedicated to advocating the rights of women, children and people with special needs, among others. The organisation’s 18-month project Youth Voices for Change and Development has been awarded the EU-financed grant under the Eastern Partnership Territorial Cooperation Support Programme (EaPTC). 

The Society’s partner and co-applicants were two non-government organisations: Centre for Community Mobilization and Support from Armenia and International Association ‘Civitas Georgica’ from Georgia. The three organisations will get 77,816 Euro to carry out various activities in Georgia’s Marneuli and Bolnisi municipalities, Kvemo Kartli region as well as in Armenia’s Alaverdi and Stepanavan municipalities, Lori Marzes. 

The planned activities include organising fares and exhibitions, a joint summer camp for students, workshops and seminars for school principals, teachers and students. The ultimate objective is to support cross-border cooperation of Georgian and Armenian youth through practice-based civic education, increased community engagement and joint implementation of small-scale projects.

Currently, works are in a final stage for the refurbishment of the office for the project. “It’s very important to provide a separate office for the project’s main actors – students, in order to give them their own space to communicate with each other, where they would feel free and engage in volunteer activities in a pleasant and cozy atmosphere,” said Olga Endeladze, the project’s Head from Georgia. The next steps, according to her, are to organise focus groups and recruit people.  For example, in Armenia vacancies were announced already and in Georgia, too, announcements were sent to Jobs.ge, an employment agency. 

  

“To evaluate what are the prospects for the project and how it should develop, together with Civitas Georgica representatives, we will go to Armenia on December 18 and organise two focus groups in Alaverdi and Stepanavan. In Georgia I have already organised one focus group in Marneuli for the youth and another meeting will be held in Bolnisi with the young people on 7-8 December,” Endeladze noted.  

According to the authors, the project will involve 20 schools from the border regions of Armenia and Georgia as well as 20 university students, 400 secondary school pupils, 20 school principals, 20 teachers and 50 parents. Through twinning actions, ten joint small-scale projects will be implemented in total. These efforts will aim to remove stereotypes through the establishment of friendly ties and interpersonal relationships between young people. 

The project’s representatives have already held meetings at three local schools and now they are in a process of getting approval from the Ministry of Education as well as from the heads of schools concerning those youth who will participate in the projects. This process is expected to be over by the end of December.  

According to Endeladze, the Armenian community is not integrated with the Georgians in Marneuli, and they are very much oriented on Armenia, while the Azeri community is hostile towards Armenians, making goals of the project hard to achieve. Endeladze has, therefore, opted for  an individual approach rather than group communication to select the participants. 

“The Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict has a serious influence on the selection process. Everyone is quite cautious. A syndrome to see an Armenian as an enemy exists and because of this we are very delicate in our actions,” Endeladze said. According to her, the situation is less complicated in Bolnisi, where the majority of schools are Georgian. In her opinion, there is a common concern about the level of civil education at schools and openness in general but she is enthusiastic and optimistic about the project’s success.

March 22, 2016
Maia Edilashvili
Information Multiplier in Georgia
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