Families Promote Peace in the Middle East

Families Promote Peace in the Middle East

Northern Virginia families are promoting trust, understanding, friendship, peace in the Middle East by hosting, pairs of leaders of the next generation, in Cyprus, a small island inhabited by Turkish and Greek-speaking communities for centuries. However for the past 35 years, they have been divided by UN Peacekeeping forces. So, more than a generation has grown up holding grievances toward members of the other community and with little or no contact between them.

From 1987 to 2007, many families in Northern Virginia hosted Protestant and Roman Catholic pairs of teens in their homes for four weeks in the summer to build friendship among those who would form thee future of that divided land as part of the Children’s Friendship Project for Northern Ireland (CFPNI).

CFPNI ended with a large and emotional celebration in November 2007 because of the progress in Northern Ireland. No longer did teens need to come to the U.S. to build strong friendships with other teens from “the other side.”

However, several families in Northern Virginia active in CFPNI are now the foundation for a new Cyprus Friendship Program (CFP), which is an all-volunteer modeled completely upon CFPNI and directed by Tamera Drozd of Vienna, a former coordinator and multi-year host of the former program. It is a program of HasNa, Inc., a small 10-year-old U.S. non-profit that promotes peace in divided communities elsewhere in the world. HasNa’s and CFP’s chair of the board is Warren Muir of Mount Vernon, a 15-year host, former president, and former chair of CFPNI.

This summer CFP was launched with a pilot group of 10 pairs, all hosted in homes here this summer. While most of the 2009 host families were former participants in the former Northern Ireland program, the Cyprus Friendship Program is seeking to expand the program in summer 2010 in the area with the addition of more families, to the extent that it can raise charitable donations for the travel to the US. Contact Tamera Drozd ( tamera@hasna.org or 703-255-1628 ). Charitable donations, all of which go for airfares and travel insurance, should be made out to HasNa-Cyprus Friendship Program, 2401 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, Suite 410, Washington, DC 20037.