Cyprus communities weaving nearer ties by UN-backed mission

Hande Toycan, who’s Turkish-Cypriot, and Flora Hadjigeorgiou, a Greek-Cypriot, are among the many many ladies who companion with the UN on the Mediterranean island to strengthen engagement, equality and stability. 

A shared bond 

Ms. Toycan was born and raised within the northern metropolis of Famagusta, and nonetheless lives there.  She is a member of the Famagusta Cultural Affiliation and studied Greek language and literature in Ankara, the cultural capital of Turkey. 

Ms. Hadjigeorgiou, a retired instructor who fills her time with hobbies and different actions, is a part of the Klotho Girls’s Initiative. 

Although coming from completely different communities, each girls have a ardour for weaving.  Nonetheless, neither was conscious of their shared bond. 

“At first, our mates Mustafa and Maria who work at UNFICYP instructed us concerning the mission, funded by the Dutch Embassy, and instructed us to use,” stated Ms. Toycan. 

Bringing communities nearer 

UNFICYP, formally the UN Peacekeeping Drive in Cyprus, has been within the nation since 1964.

Hearken to our interview with Particular Consultant Elizabeth Spehar, who heads the UN mission: 

“Blue helmets” from the mission police and monitor a buffer zone between the Republic of Cyprus and the so-called Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.  

UNFICYP additionally facilitates initiatives to carry the 2 sides nearer collectively. 

“They put us involved with the women from Famagusta, and so a bi-communal mission started,” Ms. Hadjigeorgiou recalled. 

By way of a centuries-old custom, the ladies started to weave a brand new relationship. 

“Weaving is a part of our previous,” Ms. Hoycan defined. “This connection and collaboration between the 2 associations…is a really optimistic instance of the intercommunal cooperation between the 2 communities, as a result of it isn’t at all times simple for many individuals to get collectively and do issues.” 

A brand new expertise 

By way of collaborating on completely different weaving initiatives, the ladies exchanged data, opinions and concepts. The expertise marked a primary for Ms. Hadjigeorgiou. 

“Till this, I had no contact with the Turkish-Cypriots in any respect. The primary time I got here into contact with a Turkish-Cypriot, was with the Klotho mission,” she stated. 

“It helped loads in reconciliation as a result of on this facet, we had no contact with Turkish Cypriots.” 

Weaving additionally supplied grounds for friendship, and Ms. Toycan’s data of Greek proved particularly useful. 

“For the final three years, I’m working as a Greek instructor. I help them particularly within the communication half, the communication in Turkish and Greek,” she stated. 

Compelled to separate 

Sadly, the COVID-19 pandemic has raised new challenges. The ladies had been compelled to be aside, simply as they had been starting to really feel snug with one another. 

“Our connection within the Klotho Girls’s Initiative was at all times face-to-face conferences, however our communication didn’t cease fully,” stated Ms. Toycan.  “We ask about one another and what we’re doing. Our work continues, however after all not like up to now.”  

Nothing divides us 

Despite the fact that all the pieces stopped because of the pandemic, each girls plan to proceed weaving throughout the divided island.  

“It is a superb instance of collaboration,” stated Ms. Hadjigeorgiou. “It proves that the 2 sides can co-exist.  We’ve got so many frequent pursuits. There’s nothing to divide the women from Famagusta and us.”  

Though they initially felt like strangers, “by this bi-communal collaboration we received to know that we’re the identical,” stated Ms, Toycan, including “it’s good to know this.”  

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