Cyprus communities weaving closer ties through UN-backed project

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Hande Toycan, who is Turkish-Cypriot, and Flora Hadjigeorgiou, a Greek-Cypriot, are among the galore women who spouse with the UN connected the Mediterranean land to fortify engagement, equality and stability. 

A shared bond 

Ms. Toycan was calved and raised successful the bluish metropolis of Famagusta, and inactive lives there.  She is simply a subordinate of the Famagusta Cultural Association and studied Greek connection and lit successful Ankara, the taste superior of Turkey. 

Ms. Hadjigeorgiou, a retired teacher who fills her clip with hobbies and different activities, is portion of the Klotho Women’s Initiative. 

Though coming from antithetic communities, some women person a passionateness for weaving.  However, neither was alert of their shared bond. 

“In the beginning, our friends Mustafa and Maria who enactment astatine UNFICYP told america astir the project, funded by the Dutch Embassy, and told america to apply,” said Ms. Toycan. 

Bringing communities closer 

UNFICYP, officially the UN Peacekeeping Force successful Cyprus, has been successful the state since 1964.

Listen to our interrogation with Special Representative Elizabeth Spehar, who heads the UN mission: 

“Blue helmets” from the mission police and show a buffer portion betwixt the Republic of Cyprus and the alleged Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.  

UNFICYP besides facilitates projects to bring the 2 sides person together. 

“They enactment america successful interaction with the ladies from Famagusta, and truthful a bi-communal task began,” Ms. Hadjigeorgiou recalled. 

Through a centuries-old tradition, the women began to weave a caller relationship. 

“Weaving is portion of our past,” Ms. Hoycan explained. “This transportation and collaboration betwixt the 2 associations…is a precise affirmative illustration of the intercommunal practice betwixt the 2 communities, due to the fact that it is not ever casual for galore radical to get unneurotic and bash things.” 

A caller experience 

Through collaborating connected antithetic weaving projects, the women exchanged knowledge, opinions and ideas. The acquisition marked a archetypal for Ms. Hadjigeorgiou. 

“Until this, I had nary interaction with the Turkish-Cypriots astatine all. The archetypal clip I came into interaction with a Turkish-Cypriot, was with the Klotho project,” she said. 

“It helped a batch successful reconciliation due to the fact that connected this side, we had nary interaction with Turkish Cypriots.” 

Weaving besides provided grounds for friendship, and Ms. Toycan’s cognition of Greek proved particularly handy. 

“For the past 3 years, I americium moving arsenic a Greek teacher. I assistance them particularly successful the connection part, the connection successful Turkish and Greek,” she said. 

Forced to separate 

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has raised caller challenges. The women were forced to beryllium apart, conscionable arsenic they were opening to consciousness comfy with each other. 

“Our transportation successful the Klotho Women’s Initiative was ever face-to-face meetings, but our connection didn’t halt completely,” said Ms. Toycan.  “We inquire astir each different and what we are doing. Our enactment continues, but of people not similar successful the past.”  

Nothing divides us 

Even though everything stopped owed to the pandemic, some women program to proceed weaving crossed the divided island.  

“This is simply a precise bully illustration of collaboration,” said Ms. Hadjigeorgiou. “It proves that the 2 sides tin co-exist.  We person truthful galore communal interests. There is thing to disagreement the ladies from Famagusta and us.”  

Although they initially felt similar strangers, “through this bi-communal collaboration we got to cognize that we are the same,” said Ms, Toycan, adding “it is bully to cognize this.”  

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