Name of the organization: Youth Cultural Center – Bitola
Brief description of the organization
Youth Cultural Center – Bitola (YCC – Bitola) is one of the leading youth CSOs that actively works on the promotion of volunteering and active youth participation. It is a national coordinating office of the non-formal CSO network Volunteer Center of Macedonia developing a nation-wide volunteer service to act as a mechanism for engaging citizens in their communities and linking them with government at the local level. The organization achieved substantial social impact in the area of volunteering by engagement of more than 450 volunteers in the past 7 years. In the frame of the project, Bitola became the first Municipality in the country that established Local Volunteer Council as an institutional mechanism for the improvement of cooperation between local self-government and other key actors in the city – CSOs, public institutions, schools and business sector to work on improvement of living conditions in the city through promotion of volunteering.
Problem addressed by the good practice
Currently, the number of conflicts inside and between the countries of the Western Balkans and Turkey is increasing. These conflicts are often based on ethnics and religions. In the last 2 years, Youth Cultural Center Bitola, together with other partner organizations from the Balkans, have faced the fact that peace and reconciliation as a topic has become “unpopular”. The overall objective of this project is to have Civil Society Organizations (CSO’s) recognized by governments as an important societal factor with a strong capacity to implement peace-building and reconciliation.
The target group is civil society organizations and young people.
Summary of the good practice
“Peace is not maintained by force, but is achieved only by understanding” is the motto of the campaign implemented by YCC – Bitola within the project Divided Past – Joint Future. It is implemented in 7 countries in the region of the Western Balkans and Turkey, by a consortium of organizations. YCC Bitola is a partner from North Macedonia. The campaign aims to promote the four projects implemented in the Republic of North Macedonia aimed at strengthening respect for diversity and improving inclusive practices with community members and stakeholders through peacebuilding activities. With the campaign, YCC Bitola has sent strong messages for peace and diversity: Let us all paint the world together with the colors of diversity because every color has a story because every person is a special color because the color unites and makes the world a wonderful place to live.
The event included the creation of a Field fo Piace, plantation of a Tree of Pease, and production of a Time Capsule sending a message to space, wishing for “Peace that lasts forever”.
The interest for inclusion in the youth campaign from Bitola was great and it was a sure indicator of the success of the action. Young people were actively involved in both the creation of the campaign and the implementation.
The realization of actions of this type is always welcome, given that the topics of peace, reconciliation, diversity, etc. are still taboo topics, especially in smaller local areas, and therefore it is necessary to continuously educate and involve young people in such actions, through which they understand the essence in an interactive and creative way and become real ambassadors of peace.
Photos from the Divided Past – Joint Future project are available here.