Youth as agents for peace
Eight years after the violent inter-ethnic clashes between Uzbeks and the Kyrgyz population, migration, religious radicalization, ethnic divisions and gender inequality are still persistent sources of conflict in Kyrgyzstan. Acknowledging that young people play an important role in resolving conflicts in society and that they can actively contribute to peace and stability, we co-initiated the project “Jashstan” in 2017. The project objective is to promote young people as agents for resolving and preventing conflicts by supporting youth activities and efforts for peace building in their communities. In the framework of the project 162 young people received a comprehensive training that prepares them for this task. They learned techniques to deal with stress and conflict situations, using sports, art and interactive methods for resolving conflict and also, finally, how to write applications for business and social projects. In a second phase the best 22 youth projects were selected in a national-wide youth symposium.
Quest for Friendship
One of the youth projects was proposed by a group of peace-builders in Talas. The project addresses the problem of harassment and bullying between different school students in Talas. This reached a sad climax in 2017 when a17-year-old school student died in a conflict. To support better relationships and friendships between the students of different schools and in order to unite young people, the project team organized the youth camp "Quest for Friendship". During the one-day camp in the nature reserve of Talas region, students of the different schools in Talas participated in various intellectual and interactive games and experienced exchange and cooperation through games and sports. Beside this, the participants get to know the method "forum theater", with which they conducted own little plays and reflected violent incidents between students at their schools. This camp broke the wall of silence on school bullying in Talas and some students were motivated to campaign further. They united in a group and plan to organize similar activities against bullying at their schools.
Prospects for Min Kush
There are also examples for successful business initiatives from young people in Min Kush. As a prosperous industrial manufacturing hub and a leading producer of uranium during the Soviet period, today only abandoned Soviet factories remind of the once bright past of Min-Kush. Especially young people face high rates of unemployment and see no future prospects in Min Kush, which is one main reason for conflict in that region. Public vocational education services do not meet the requirements of the labor market and private courses are non-existent or to expensive. To support the rural youth in Min Kush our team opened a carpentry workshop, where young people can learn how to work with wood in order to build furniture and earn some money. Today the flourishing small business is the only carpentry provider in the region and has a growing number of customers.