”Let our voice be heard” – an annual work plan co-funded by the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe and the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union.


Between 2018 and 2021 MIJARC Europe is leading its work around three thematic focus points described in the Specific Objectives adopted by the General Assembly back in 2017. The work plan we run in 2019 addressed MIJARC Europe’s commitment to support citizenship and youth participation in rural development.

Through the work plan we run in 2019 we aimed to help rural young people in MIJARC Europe network and beyond feel that they have the right, the means and the skills to drive change at local level and to motive other stakeholders to support their ideas and create opportunities for youth participation together.

We wanted young people to feel that they know, they can, and they want to be involved, to be able to imagine the concrete, sequential steps towards achieving real impact and to identify how to determine local authorities to join their initiatives in order to see those changes they envision, happen in reality.

This aim was pursued through the following specific objectives:

O1: enable young people from rural areas to discriminate between self-imposed barriers to participation (their own perceptions, stereotypes and attitudes) and real barriers and find inspiration to identify solutions to both types of barriers;

O2: teach young people how to communicate with, involve and ask for support from local authorities and perceive them as partners rather than opponents;

O3: empower young people from rural areas to become competent and effective digital citizens;

O4: contribute to the implementation of the principles of the Revised Charter on participation of young people in local and regional life and to the dissemination of the “Have your say manual” to local public authorities and youth NGOs in at least 10 rural areas in Europe.


The work plan included one local activity and two international activities, reinforced by follow- up activities at local level.

From February to April 2019, MIJARC Europe organized focus groups, called “local visits” in 9 different countries in Europe. Small groups of 10 to 20 people aged from 12 to 22 years old came together, sometimes also with representatives of local authorities, to discuss the topic of youth participation.

Questions like “what does youth participation mean?”, “what kind of youth participation does take place?”, “does real participation take place?”, “how young people are involved, do they have a real chance to participate and co-decide?” have been deeply discussed with the help of the manual “Have your Say”. The manual Have your Say is a tool of the Council of Europe for young people and local authorities to implement and use the Charter on youth participation in the local and regional life. The findings of the local visits were included in a report and illustrated in country fact sheets. The results of this small scale research were at the basis of the next two phases.

Report on the state of youth participation – local visits

Info graphics – country fact sheets

The second activity was an international seminar, which gathered 40 young people, for four full working days.  It had the role to bridge the results of the fieldwork done by MIJARC Europe during the local visits with the theoretical and practical aspects of the participation at local, national, regional and European lever by involving active members in a proactive learning process.

The seminar was designed and led based on the methods of non-formal education and relevant approaches using the Revised European Charter on the Participation of Young People in local and regional life and the “Have your say” Manual. The successful implementation of the seminar resulted in a magazine of personal stories of participation written and drawn by the participants, the creation of vlogs and of three infographics.  The final evaluation results show that the seminar scored high in the hearts and minds of the participants. The percentage of those who believe that they got the basic theory, practical approaches and tools, to help them to build a culture of participation after the seminar is about 92%.

Digital magazine “My story of participation” 

Vlogs – https://www.youtube.com/user/MIJARCEurope/videos



The seminar was complemented by the third phase, an international training course on e- citizenship that offered additional tools and ideas to tackle the problems identified in the first phase. The training course aimed to bring the participants closer to e-participation. The participants were encouraged to build their own positions for different topics related to participation and e-participation and they had a possibility to present and discuss in a safe learning environment.

They had a possibility to address their comments and questions to Dirk Van Eeckhout, the Thematic Coordinator on Information Policy in the Council of Europe and Rita Jonusaite, part of the secretariat of the YFJ. That was a highly valuable experience that helped the participants to meet stakeholders, gain self-confidence and resilience breaking the present barriers. The participants worked together in intercultural subgroups in order to solve practical case studies through the e-participation tools they have discovered.


The most impressive result of the training course was the set up of an online campaign “Every Breath we take” the participants used to raise awareness on the fires in the Amazon and climate injustice. The campaign worked as a Facebook challenge in which young people were challenged to take a photo of themselves with their eyes closed, taking a deep breath along with the written message: “Our common home is on fire. The Amazon is burning. We cannot hold our breath until you finally take action. We need to act NOW!”. It also included four calls to action and messages inspired by the position papers of MIJARC Europe such as: “We demand national governments to take concrete actions to meet their commitments to the Paris agreement”. The campaign gathered more than 100 people who took a photo of themselves, posted the photo along with the message on their Facebook profile and challenged their friends

Every breath we take campaign

Training booklet on e-participation

Finally, each organization involved did a follow-up activity of their choice, involving a minimum number of 10 participants. The full list of follow-up activities can be seen here.

Follow-up activity in Bulgaria

Follow-up activity in Germany

Follow-up activity in Romania

The results of the work plan were also presented and promoted in our biannual magazine: MIJARC Explore.

This article is part of a series of stories written by the young people who took part at our seminar “A call for peace for all”. They include real life stories of people who left their countries and/or information about migration in one of the European countries where MIJARC Europe has members. All those whose names or any other identification data appear in the articles have given their written consent for making this information public. 


In the context of the topic chosen for this year by our member movements – peace – we have launched an online campaign of peace messages and quotes under the #nevertakepeaceforgranted slogan. This campaign is part of our work plan which also includes two international activities and a travelling exhibition on the topic of peace. The first international activity of our work plan was preceeded by a preparatory phase during which our members had to interview/discuss with at least two people who had left their countries and are now know as “migrants”, “refugees” or “asylum seekers”. To our members they are just people, as are those living next to us. They have emotional and unusual stories, they live in different conditions but as our participants discovered they have not forgoten to be kind, tolerant, open and to forgive.

Here we bring you the article written by the participants from Romania. The Romanian version of the article can be found below.

f9.jpgAn article written by:

Ivan Emilia Iuliana

Neagu Sara Georgiana

Vlădulescu Cristian Giovani

We are Emilia, Sara and Cristian. In the year 2018 we undertook the mission to overcome the barriers of indifference developed by the collective spirit of the last decades and to penetrate, inspired by the moral and social values ​​of MIJARC Europe, in the world of the least listened.

We put our microphones, cameras, mind and soul beside them, and listened to their stories, I stared at them. Among the key tools that facilitated this road were patience, understanding, solidarity, empathy, and an unwavering psychological force. Although we have prepared to equip them from the start, we recognize that we have had some surprises. At both the beginning and the end, I realized that I needed courage. The courage to accept that we, in front of them, are strangers. Aliens are not so much the country and their language, as foreigners of life experience, strangers of a tortured livelihood, strangers of sacrifice, strangers of suffering. However, the people we discussed with were very open, warm and sincere. They talked to us kindly, they smiled parents and treated us in the purest form, just as they treated their family members. The joy we received with these emotions was unbounded for us, and the feeling itself was overwhelming.

Finally, we can add that we have not only developed a sense of great empathy, but we have understood and how blessed we are that we have been born ordinary citizens, in common, citizens of a country exempt from sacrifice and pain.

Un articol scris de:

Ivan Emilia Iuliana

Neagu Sara Georgiana

Vlădulescu Cristian Giovani

Noi suntem sunt Emilia, Sara și Cristian. În anul lui 2018 ne-am asumat misiunea de a depăși barierele nepăsării dezvoltate de spiritul colectiv al ultimelor decenii și de a pătrunde, impulsionați de valorile morale și sociale ale MIJARC Europe, în lumea celor mai puțin ascultați.

Ne-am pus microfoanele, camerele de filmat, mintea și sufletul lângă ei și le-am ascultat poveștile, i-am privit în suflet. Printre instrumentele-cheie care au facilitat acest drum s-au numărat răbdarea, înțelegerea, solidaritatea, empatia și o forță psihologică de neclintit. Deși ne-am pregătit pentru echiparea cu acestea încă de la început, recunoaştem am avut parte de câteva surprize. Atât la început, cît și la sfârșit, am realizat că aveam nevoie și de curaj. Curajul de a accepta că noi, în fața lor, suntem niște străini. Străini nu atât de țara și de limba lor, cît străini de experiență de viață, străini de un trai chinuitor, străini de sacrificu, străini de suferință. Cu toate acestea, persoanele cu care am discutat au fost foarte deschise, calde și sincere. Ne-au vorbit cu bunătate, ne-au zâmbit părintește și ne-au tratat în cea mai pură formă, la fel cum îi tratează pe membrii familiei lor. Bucuria cu care am primit aceste emoții din partea lor a fost, pentru noi, nemărginită, iar sentimentul în sine a fost copleșitor.

În final, putem adăuga că am reușit nu doar să dezvoltăm un simț al empatiei foarte puternic, dar am înțeles și  cât de binecuvântați suntem că ne-am născut cetățeni obișnuiți, de rând, cetățeni ai unei țări scutite de sacrificiu și durere.

Photo by Nick Schumacher on Unsplash

Nowadays 1,8 billion people leave in conflict affected areas and 244 million people have been displaced due to conflictual contexts.[1] The Global Peace Index of 2017, showed us that the global peacefulness has deteriorated by 2.14 per cent since 2008[2]. With ongoing conflicts in Myanmar, Syria, Iran, Colombia, Somalia- just to mention a few, we see not only a need for an immediate action to deter the conflicts but also the need to prevent conflicts. There is not a magic formula that can insure that conflicts can be prevented, as various factors need to be considered: social, political and climate context, history of the state, economic trends, access to resources, accessibility of the population to education etc., however, we can all agree that investments in military sectors rather than peace building (under 10 billion dollars[3]) it is not the answer we need.

In the last years, we have come to understand that peace[4]– in the sense of the absence of war/ violent conflict known as Negative Peace- it is not necessary sustainable, however, peace which includes development and growth opportunities has a higher possibility of being sustainable. The dependency between peace and development is known as Positive Peace-  “the integration of human society” in the words of John Galtung. The Institute for Economics and Peace[5] identified eight pillars of positive peace which are yearly measured per country: 1) A Well-Functioning Government; 2) Sound Business Environment; 3) Equitable Distribution of Resources; 4) Equitable Distribution of Resources; 5) Acceptance of the rights of others; 6) Good Relations with Neighbors;  7) Free Flow of Information; 8)High Levels of Human Capital and 9)Low levels of Corruption.


Although achieving high levels of development per each pillar may seem a long and hard process, each and every one of us, can contribute towards the improvement of the fifth pillar: Acceptance of the rights of others. In this sense, non-formal education methods and opportunities- offered by programmes such as Erasmus + and EYF- to exchange  with people from other cultures, social backgrounds, different religions help increase tolerance, knowledge and understanding of the realities in other countries, play a major role in shaping perceptions and eliminating discrimination. Especially at the level of youth, international non-governmental organizations have been engaging young people in exchanges on different topics, inspiring them to be informed, to participate actively at local and international level. Young people are sources of incredible power that can add value and knowledge to so many fields, peace being one of these fields- young people have developed and implemented a series of activities that promote peace, for instance: developing an interactive map of peace agents – http://www.tgpcloud.org/p4p/index.php?m=youth ; training of youth able to mobilize a larger number of other young people 32 622- Youth Initiatives for Peace and Reconciliation project or PATRIR’s EduPace club. These are examples of actions that we can all promote, actively participate in and become agents of positive change and peacebuilding.

And you, what are you doing today, for a peaceful tomorrow?

Article written by Alexandra SOLOMON
European Secretary

[1] Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator, Speech at UNLEASH Awards Ceremony; available at: http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/presscenter/speeches/2017/08/21/achim-steiner-undp-administrator-speech-at-unleash-awards-ceremony.html
[2] Institute for Economics and Peace, Global Peace Index 2017
[3] Idem 2
[4] Distinction made by John Galtung in “ Violence, Peace, and Peace Research” 1969
[5] Institute for Economics and Peace,  POSITIVE PEACE REPORT 2017, pg. 9