The United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) was set up by the UN Security Council in 1964 to prevent further fighting between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities. In the absence of a political settlement to the Cyprus problem, UNFICYP has remained on the island to supervise ceasefire lines, maintain a buffer zone, and undertake humanitarian activities to improve social cohesion between the two communities.
Empowering the Community Change Makers
With the goal of improving social cohesion and understanding between the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot communities, UNFICYP sponsored the Cities4Peace Mindful Leadership program to empower community change-makers from both communities to enhance their mental wellbeing and build their leadership capacity to develop innovative ways to promote peace and social harmony on the island. The project was implemented in close collaboration with a local bi-communal women’s organization, Hands Across the Divide (HAD).
From March to June of 2022, the Cities4Peace team customized and delivered two peacebuilding workshops that were attended by twenty women leaders from both sides of the conflict. The participants were selected based on the diversity of their experience, professional background, and more importantly, their desire to be part of the solution by becoming a trusted bridge for the Cypriots on the island.
The training program consisted of IAHV’s evidence-based SKY breath and meditation practice to develop inner resilience and improve mental wellbeing. In addition, through interactive discussions and group processes, the program enabled participants to develop systems thinking and build trusted networks. Each participant was subsequently inspired to create and deliver a service project that would further promote peace and social harmony, and make a positive difference to at least 50 individuals using the wisdom that they gained during the training.
Research & Analytics
An anonymous post-training survey was given to the program participants to evaluate their experience. Below are some charts to show their feedback of the program:
A few examples of the peace projects taken up by the participants are below:
It was an honor to host a video podcast discussion between four mothers (two from each side). We shared stories that we have heard as daughters and mothers and realized that we have to heal our trauma to move forward. I believe women can play a big role in enabling peace in Cyprus. Watch the full podcast here.
– Eleni Antoniou
I brought together 14 musicians from both Greek & Turkish Cypriot communities to recreate The Beatles’ song “All You Need Is Love”. Everyone enthusiastically supported the idea and enjoyed the experience. I believe that music can help to transcend our boundaries and unite us in the spirit of love and peace. The final video of our performance is here.
– Melina Demetriou
The Cities4Peace training seeks to empower participants through personal transformation and capacity building. Therefore, it is important to know the experience of our participants about the program. Here are some of the testimonials after completing our 8-week program.
“The Cities4Peace workshop reaffirmed my belief that Peace is an inside job and peace in our communities begins with us. Not only do we have the responsibility to be and create peace around us, but we each have the capacity and ability to create peace. Peace is our individual choice. It takes awareness, skills, commitment, and collaboration.”
– Katerina Stephanou
“The Cities4Peace workshop made me aware of how my breathing and lifestyle are all interconnected to each other. I am now capable of better managing negative emotions and conflicts in my daily life. I even teach my family and friends about the science of the breath that I learned in the workshop.”
– Hanife Serin
– Angeliki Hadjiloizou
“In a nutshell, what I really realized after the completion of this amazing Cities4Peace workshop is that peace and kindness should be our natural way of living, should be our starting point in life as well as our last one. How wonderful this world would be if everyone had the luck to be shown this path and vision in life.”
– Layia Karpasiti
In order to scale up the impact of our work, we are seeking like-minded partners from academia, civil society, and businesses, including Cypriot business leaders from the global diaspora. If you would like to know more or get involved, please email us at email@example.com