The Buffer Zone’s cool factor went up several notches last Sunday, when Home for Cooperation (H4C) threw its ‘first birthday’ bash. After all, who doesn’t like a good party?
For those who couldn’t be there in person, Leslie Frost, a friend of the Association for Historical Dialogue and Research (AHDR) – and Peace Exchange’s guest blogger this week – is here to give us all the details. Read on!
A street party can’t change the world. But at H4C’s celebration of its first anniversary on May 6, there was a greater sense of possibility and genuine commitment to peace and goodwill across the Buffer Zone than overtly displayed in years of political negotiations.
And I’m here to report it was a rockin’ good time.
The genius of H4C is that it brings together many disparate groups, working toward common causes, and centred on values of knowledge, peace and tolerance.
Organisations like AHDR – the driving force behind H4C’s creation – co-exist with Peace Players, ENGAGE, Hands Across the Divide, Interpeace and Future Together, along with other civil society organisations, citizen groups and individuals who host their activities there.
(Not to mention, H4C recently opened a highly popular café where people gather daily for lunches, meetings, or simply a good chat over coffee and muffins.)
On Sunday, H4C’s resident NGOs had a joint display set up to inform revelers about the work of each organisation. On the less serious side, there were also games and activities for kids and adults alike.
Bike for Cooperation sent out more than 40 people in bright-yellow safety vests with orange balloons tied to their bikes, to ride around and through the old city of Nicosia.
There was also a flash mob, and street ‘artivists’ organised a Word Carrier activity, collecting opinions on what cooperation means.
Children sang “Happy Birthday” in Greek, Turkish and English; we took part in laughter yoga and danced in the street. And there was enough barbecued souvla for all – a minor miracle when the crowds come in numbers far larger than expected – more than 500 in all!
And for those who were volunteers, the event was particularly memorable.
“This for me was the peace activity of all times and I now believe in a positive change even more,” said Tevfik Ioannis Aytekin.
“I am grateful to the AHDR for giving me the opportunity to supervise the painting activity, through which three fantastic murals were prepared by motivated and talented kids working on the idea of cooperation,” added counterpart Iacovos Psaltis.
As both event and symbol, the day was amazing.
You can’t solve the Cyprus problem with a street party, but Cypriots from all over, and guests to this beautiful island like me, came together Sunday, May 6 to support a vision of building something better.
If to imagine a better future seems like a utopian dream, that dream has a tangible home that is one year old now.
With a dream, and a space for dreaming, and the committed work that makes even such dreams possible, who knows what can be achieved?
I believe in the power of those who have a dream today. Happy birthday, Home for Cooperation. Many happy returns.
Thanks, Leslie! You can check out lots more photos from the event here.
And if you’ve liked what you’ve read, please show some love and share it on Facebook and Twitter 🙂
That’s all for this time. See you in the next post!