PeacePlayers Cyprus, a local NGO that aspires to unite the young people of Cyprus through basketball, recently welcome a number of refugees to its summer camp in Agros, demonstrating that social integration and peaceful coexistence is possible and easy to achieve.
According to the UNHCR website, one in five of the 54 participants were refugees from different countries including Syria, Cameroon and Iraq aged between 12 and 18 who joined Greek and Turkish Cypriot youngsters at the camp.
PeacePlayers – Cyprus is a locally led, non-profit organisation that aims to unite, educate and inspire young people in divided communities through basketball.
UNHCR said it had been approached by PeacePlayers who extended an invitation to children from refugee families living in Cyprus to participate in their summer camp programme that takes place annually at the Rodon Hotel in Agros.
“We wanted to give these kids who have less opportunities the chance to try something they haven’t tried before,” Stephanie Nicolas, PeacePlayers Cyprus Programme Manager told the UNHCR site.
With the community outreach assistance of Caritas Cyprus to identify interested families, all the spots being offered were filled.
Thanks to the initiative by @peaceplayers-Cyprus , Greek Cypriot, Turkish Cypriot and refugee children came together at their Summer 2019 Camp in Agros.
— UNHCR Cyprus (@UNHCRCyprus) July 19, 2019
“Our programme is all about how to view ‘the other’, seeing people as people, and putting things in perspective to find different ways of seeing and handling conflict,” said Stephanie.
“The change is visible on the court, when we observe the teams showing care and respect for their opponents.”
In addition to time on the court, the participants share accommodation, meals and leisure time together, as well as classroom time where peace education workshops take place.
“We witness peer-to-peer support and team strengthening with the older kids towards the younger or newer participants,” said Stephanie. “It’s nice for us to see the kids participating actively in the class sessions too. Their confidence is really boosted and we are delighted when we witness integrated thinking from children as young as 12.”