“People to People” – social interaction between Christian and Muslim rural youngsters in Bulgaria
Our member movement, YMDRAB-Bulgaria, is running a great project in line with our annual topic on 2017: radicalization and extremism. Their project “People to people – social interaction between Christian ad Muslim rural youngsters” brought together young people from two different religious groups to explore the different realities they face in the rural areas of Bulgaria.
This is a youth project of MIJARC’s member movement YMDRAB Bulgaria. Its main aim is to initiate a social dialogue and to develop intercultural sensitivity between Bulgarian Muslim and Christian rural youngsters. The project took place from 3rd to 10th September 2017 and brought together 12 Christian youngsters (from village of Litakovo situated in the Northwestern part of Bulgaria) and 12 Muslim youngsters (from Zhaltusha village situated in the Southeastern part of the country) in a neutral place (in Kranevo village at the Black Sea cost in the Northeastern part of Bulgaria).
The main project activity was an one week collaboration event between the participants. They were accompanied by a coherently built team of trainers and experts, coming from YMDRAB and their partners in the project (Ardino Municipality, Botevgrad Municipality and The National Youth Forum of Bulgaria). Their collaborative work was entirely based on non-formal education, including: presentations, mixed working groups, role plays, group discussions, field visits and others.
During the event the participants shared and analysed the realities of the Christian and Muslim youngsters in the Bulgarian rural areas and identified the challenges and opportunities to develop more cohesive multicultural and multi religious villages. They had the chance to break mutual stereotypes and prejudices and to develop awareness on concepts such as identity, culture, intercultural sensitivity and human rights (including gender equalities). The experts increased participants’ understanding of the local context (including institutions, authorities, relevant programmes, legislation, ect.), which can facilitate their access to social rights. And finally the participants were able to reflect and identify a set of actions for overcoming the mutual exclusion and for increasing the interaction between Christian and Muslim rural youngsters at local level.
As a result of the collaborative work, at the end of the event a Position paper was developed outlining the results of the project. This document contains the common vision of participants how to encourage the social dialogue and interaction between Bulgarian Christian and Muslim rural youngsters. In parallel to that, two Action groups were established in the local communities of the participants, which will act as a moving force or implementation of effective follow-up activities.
Besides the busy agenda, the participants found time for entertainment – there were various thematic evenings and funny activities on the beach. They also had a trip to Varna which is the European Youth Capital in 2017 and visited an outdoor open library created by local Christian and Muslim young volunteers. All of this inspired them for follow up actions and future cooperation.
This activity is supported by the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe. A unique foundation supporting activities developed with, for & by young people.