Rural Voices 1/2017

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Special edition:

60 Years of Peacebuilding

01 / 2017 The Rural Youth Europe Magazine

Rural Youth Europe Rural Youth Europe (RYEurope) is a European nongovernmental organisation for rural youth. Established in 1957, it is an umbrella for youth organisations working to promote and activate young people in the countryside. It provides international training possibilities and works as an intermediary between national organisations and youth organisations and public institutions at the European level. Rural Youth Europe is a member-led organisation: democratically constituted, the organisation is led by young people for young people. Rural Youth Europe unites 20 member organisations across 18 European countries. The membership base is over 500,000 young people who either live in rural areas or have an interest in rural life. If your organisation is interested to join Rural Youth Europe or you would like more information about our events, please contact or check our website

Rural Voices Rural Voices is published by Rural Youth Europe. Views and opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect those of Rural Youth Europe. Text may include informal translations of statements and documents. Reproduction of articles is authorised provided the source is quoted and copies of the article are sent to Rural Youth Europe. This newsletter is published with the support of the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe and Erasmus+ of European Commission. The editors express their gratitude for all received articles and encourage every member organisation to contribute and to enrich this magazine. SECRETARY GENERAL: Jenni Heinonen RESPONSIBLE EDITOR: Mikko Välitalo ADDRESS: Karjalankatu 2A, 00520 Helsinki, Finland PHONE: + 358 45 234 5629 E-MAIL: office@rural WEBSITE: CONCEPT & LAYOUT: Júlia Hentz PHOTO-CREDITS: Rural Youth Europe, its members and participants of events

CONTENT 3 C h a i r m a n ’s foreword 4 - 5 6 0 Ye a r s o f Peacebuilding 6 Hand of Hope 7 Building a Nationwide Yo u t h Organisation 8 Strangers B e c o m e Fr i e n d s 9 Fr o m H a t e Speech to Dialogue 10 I n M e m o r y o f R o b e r t F. Gregor 11 I n c l u s i o n f o r a Peaceful Europe 12 C a l e n d a r

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RYEurope board

Dear Friends, Welcome to this special edition of Rural Voices to mark the 60th anniversary of Rural Youth Europe! It is amazing to think this organisation started way back in 1957, and what a lot has changed since then?! In this magazine you will get to discover a window on the past, and a history long before most of us were even born. We must thank our predecessors, the leaders in our own organisations for coming together with the foresight to collaborate with one another, across borders, even when the whole idea of a European Union was just in its infancy. Rural Youth Europe’s theme this year is peacebuilding in a changing Europe. We aim to promote peacebuilding through our events, a campaign and overall communications. Europe has been subject to a lot of human migration over the past sixty years and peacebuilding has always been important. As Europe becomes ever more multi-cultural we must continue working to resolve any differences to ensure that we remain part of a welcoming community. Within the Rural Youth Europe network we are lucky to have some people who remember and have documents relating to our history in the context of Europe’s past, so we hope you enjoy reading about that in the pages that follow. There is a lot to learn from that history, and whilst we should look forwards we should always keep an eye on the past. The famous quote from the philosopher George Santayana comes to mind:






“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it” For sure the future will bring more big changes and we hope that you, your families, your communities and countries will continue making history and secure the future of rural youth for the next 60 years!


Enjoy! Russ Carrington Chairman etc.


“Do you still believe that Europe is necessary, that the creation of this Europe of tomorrow is a task for the young people of today?” The topic of Rally 1977 was environmental problems in relation to industrialisation and agriculture.

The Committee as a representative of rural youth helped to lead to initiatives to support youth work; the establishment of the youth centre in Strasbourg and the European Youth Foundation.

“A new socio-political role was also foreseen for many organisations in order to meet the lowering of the voting age and the growing awareness amongst young people of their social and political responsibilities.”

60 Years of Peacebuilding After the Second World War there was a need to bring young people together to build a more peaceful Europe through cooperation. The European Committee for Young Farmers and 4H clubs was founded in Germany. 1957

The first official European Rally took place in Netherlands. European Farm Youth Exchange scheme was set up.


“- - European committee should be seen as being fit and ready to play its part in the development of the new Europe.”




The Committee aimed to build cooperation between eastern and western Europe. Also, the Committee grew stronger links with the Americas and Asia, and raised discussion on the needs of rural youth around the world. 1960’s 2010’s Themes: Entrepreneurship and active participation in the society



RYEurope turns 60 years Annual theme: Human rights and peacebuilding




Rally: environmental problems related to industrialisation and agriculture.

The first General Assembly of the European Youth forum. The Committee was the only rural youth organisation with full membership.

The first leadership course took place in Strasbourg.

UN international youth year Seminar on role of women in agriculture. Two-year initiative to bridge the gap between urban and rural societies.

The Committee declared to be the “premier and geographically largest rural youth organisation in Europe”. Intercultural learning was used as a method at the events.

Event on solving problems in a democratic way.





Partnerships were created e.g. with MIJARC and CEJA. 1970’s


Twelfth study session in Strasbourg; The role of rural youth in international development - policies, programmes and activities of rural youth organisations in relation to third world development and NorthSouth dialogue.




Study session: “Europe’s Countryside for the Year 2000” 1988


1991 The name “Rural Youth Europe” was adopted

East-West dialogue as an annual theme.


4H Norway turned 75 years old in 2011, and instead of receiving presents, the organization decided they wanted to give. Hand of Hope was a project that gave the gift of clear, clean water to Sierra Leone, one of the poorest countries in the world. All over the country, 4H-ers engaged with the local community in donating money through Afri-wells, for taking part in water based activities (water balloon competitions, water bucket relays etc.) and challenging the local businesses to support them also. At the same time, the 4H-members learned about the situation in Sierra Leone and the importance of clean water as a life line.

Hand of Hope


Through the various w a t e r- a c t i v i t i e s , fundraising events and creativity 4H-ers in Norway managed to raise the amount of Norwegian Krone 1.517.075 which resulted in 23 water wells being created, better sanitation and also education in the use of clean water in cooking, cleaning and hygiene. Well-projects were carried out in cooperation with Plan Norge, which was responsible for building and training locally in Sierra Leone. Plan oversees the maintenance of the wells as well as education. A group of 4H-members went to visit Sierra Leone accompanied by Plan Norge and could see the wells in action. Children are often taken out of schools to walk long ways to get water for their households. Wells and access to clean water in the village, gives the children the possibility to attend school, it’s also developing the local community and preventing waterborne diseases.

Cooperation between Finnish 4H and the Tanga region in Tanzania started over forty years ago in 1976. The catalyst was when a youth officer and teacher from Lushoto primary school visited in order to study Finnish youth work and youth organisations. This trip has since developed into fruitful cooperation between Finland and Tanzania over the past four decades. There has been EU and Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs funded development projects. The very first of these was called “The Self-Reliance Project�. The aim of this project was to help children and young people to realise the resources they have around them and how to use their own strengths wisely.

Building a Nationwide Youth Organisation

The Tanzanian 4H Organisation is registered as an NGO in Tanzania and has been established since 1993. In 2005 its charter was renewed in order to match the new NGO law in Tanzania. The Certificate of Compliance for this NGO is number 1729, issued on the 27th of November 2006. 4H is a non-profit and non-religious organisation and open to anyone living in Tanzania, regardless of sex, tribe, origin or disability. The organisation has over fifty five thousand members aged between 6 and 25 years of age. There are four hundred and sixty

one 4H clubs across twenty districts. Fourteen hundred dedicated adults working as voluntary advisers together with young people. The 4H mission is to advance the 4H youth development movement in order to build a world in which you can learn, grow and work together to become economically independent as well as responsible adults. The organisation has continued to provide experiential and non-formal education to young people, supporting both formal education in schools and out of schools. The 4H program is focusing on preventative approaches in its youth work. Its program includes: skills building, creating norms, youth-adult bondage and enhances the collective sharing of information. Päivi Haapasalo


In 2016 German Rural Youth started a campaign Fremde werden Freunde. The members from WürttembergBaden decided to deal with the big subject of refugees. So we began to organize two main events. The first of these was to invite four young refugees from Syria, Tarek, Mohammed, Abed and his sister Samah to tell us of their lives life in Syria, the way they had travelled to Germany

Strangers become Friends


and their experience on arrival here in Germany. The reasons for leaving Syria from the four young people were all the very same –a permanent fear of bomb attacks and shots as well as the seeing many dead people on the streets. Their lives in Syria were no longer livable. Abed informed us that he did not get to finish his business economics studies. So the young Syrian decided to leave the country along with his sister Samah, Tarek and his cousin Mohammed, as well as his mother. They started in Damascus, Lebanon, Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, Hungary, Austria and then finally Germany. They didn’t have a long break to sleep or to eat. They travelled for four days nearly without any sleep at all and only a few bananas to eat. They did not want to lose the safety of the big group they were travelling with so they travelled for four days nearly without any sleep at all and only a few bananas to eat. The first time they felt safe was when they reached the Austrian border. At that stage they had the chance to take a shower, eat something and sleep.

They then needed to decide if they wanted to stay in Austria or go to Germany, and they chose to move on further. After the first registration in Munich their journey went further still. Four more stops in different German cities until they finally arrived in a small town near Heilbronn where they lived in a small “Container village”. The four have different plans for their lives in Germany. Samah wants to take a practical course related to her job as a dental technician. Then she wants to take the Abitur(final exams) in Germany and would like to continue studying dentistry. Abed wants to finish his business economics studies and then find a job. Tarek studied financial management in Damascus and worked as a manager in a bank. So he also wants to learn German and find a job. The fascinating conversations were to be continued at the second event. This was a completely different occasion in many ways. We cooked together with the refugees some typical Syrian food so we could gain insight into the culinary culture of the refugees. Nearly 40 people were in attendance. The conversations from the first event were continued and new conversations started. Also the barrier of language got broken down through the medium of food. Carolin Reeb

From Hate Speech to Dialogue It’s the end of May. I’m sitting in front of the laptop trying to jot down my thoughts about the Study Session. It has made a big impact on me. I have participated in several similar educational activities over the years, but this was very special in a way. The training was about migration and how participants can promote integration through their Non Governmental Organisations in their home countries. We started by getting to know each other, and had one of the most interesting talks on migration I’ve ever heard. A Professor of Sociology from Corvinus University explained to us the fruits of decades of his research. He talked about how the major migration patterns haven’t changed much in centuries and how the political debate is skewed towards emotional arguments even though the data is rarely there to support it. It was a very profound realization of just how migration actually looks. We also went through a simulation of what refugees have to go through to before they arrive at the European border, and we talked about what Human Rights are, in relation to law and what countries have agreed on. The group then went on to talk about hate speech and freedom of expression, where the trainers had invited me to facilitate. I had a blast and people were very engaged even though I pushed them very hard. We then talked about dialogue as a tool for communication as well as spending time thinking through self-study on narratives, and how to combat hateful narratives. Finally we developed our own projects for introducing our learning back into our local NGOs and listened to how a Hungarian organisations work with refugees. Even weeks after the Study Session, I’m still filled with motivation and drive to make the world a slightly better place, and I feel an obligation to do so as well as I can manage. I cannot thank RYEurope, NSU, the trainer team, as well CoE enough for granting me this amazing opportunity. The friendships and ideas forged in Budapest will be with me for years to come, and I hope to see you all again. Thank you. Frederik Kaae Kirk


Earlier this year we received the very sad news that Robert Fiddes Gregor had passed away. For those who have not heard of “Bob”, he was the very first Secretary General of our organisation, beginning his role in 1957 and continuing until 1990. During this period he oversaw the growth of the European Committee for Young Farmer and 4H Clubs (now RYEurope) from little more than an idea through to an organisation that represented over a million young people at one point in our history.

In Memory of Robert F. Gregor


Bob was the son of a farmer from Turiff in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Shortly after the second world war he became involved in his local Young Farmers organisation, eventually moving on to become a staff member in 1949 and national secretary in 1952. He enouraged, and in fact championed the international exhangee programme, firmly believing that this broadened young persons horizons and lead to better developed young individuals. It is likely for this reason and others that he was sought out to act as secretary of RYEurope’s first inception. Internationally his expertise in the area of Rural Youth was well recognised and in the early 1960’s he was awarded with a Kellogg Scholarship to view the work of the future young farmers of America in the United States and Canada. Bob was recognised by many organisations for his tireless work, one of the highlights of this being awarded with MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) by the Queen in the 1970s. Outside of work, Bob and his wife Ada raised two girls and these were the real joy of his life, but the truth is he had a profound affect on many more children of the Rural Youth Movement, with members gifting him nick names such as “Mr Young Farmer” and “Dad Gregor”. Seumas O’Brien, a former RYEurope event attendee, who worked with Bob on number of different forums including projects between RYEurope and CEJA and who considered him a personal friend paid him the following tribute; “Bob was first and foremost a very British man and very proud of his home

organisation the SAYFC, born in the 1920’s he had seen what war could do to a continent. He very quickly realised that providing leadership training, exchanges of people as well as points of view could achieve much for all of us. He married and moulded the Young Farmers and 4H concepts together through his work in RYEurope in a way that very few other may have succeeded in. Ultimately Bob realised that to succeed you need to start with young people”. While writing up this piece it became obvious to do Bob true justice would require more than a page but we certainly hope it has given you some appreciation of a person who greatly contributed to our existence and whom we owe more than can easily be stated. Compiled by Paddy Delaney with assistance from the Gregor family, the Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs and Seumas O’Brien from Ireland.

What is true social inclusion? An event invitation to everyone might still leave barriers that some groups can’t overcome and therefore exclude them from the event. Along with Europe becoming more multicultural, it is essential to define and overcome the barriers between people so we interact, understand and respect each other. This sets the base for a peaceful Europe. So, what are the barriers and how can we overcome them? Let me describe an example. In February in Kemiö, Finland I was part of a team arranging LEAD, a weeklong training for Nordic and Baltic youth workers. It was about social inclusion with emphasis on inclusion of refugees in our societies.

Inclusion for a Peaceful Europe Who would better know how refugees want to be included if not the refugees themselves? Therefore, the team decided to invite the Syrian refugees who live in Kemiö. But how to invite them? Only sending them an email, like we did to the other participants, would not give results.

To overcome the barriers, we took following action:

We started with defining the local Syrians´ barriers to attend LEAD:

3. We had Arabic interpretation both for my pre-visits and for LEAD.

1. We LEAD team members were strangers to them, so they had no reason to trust us. 2. They were not familiar with the NGO training format, as organisations have been banned in Syria for a long time. 3. They did not speak English, which was the working language of LEAD. 4. They were obligated to attend language classes for adults, primary school or kindergarten all weekdays.

1. We got to know each other when I prior to the training visited them several times at their classes. We found common ground by that I brought my son when visiting, since I knew several of them have children. It also turned out that they like animals, so I invited them to our farm. By time we became Facebook friends. 2. I explained in detail about the LEAD programme, what was expected from them and what they could gain.

4. We introduced LEAD to the municipality, so the Syrians were allowed to take time off from classes. And we succeeded! The Syrians could not join the whole training, but eight Syrians, both young adults and children, joined part of it. We chose to run sessions about culture that day, where everyone could contribute equally. More important than the programme itself, was to build trust and interaction between the Syrians and the other participants. We managed to reach a very emotional point where happy and sad life stories were shared, and most of us had tears in our eyes. It was powerful! It thought us all to meet each other as humans, without labels. European culture is ever-changing with continuously new barriers as obstacles for inclusion. Breaking them is a challenge for everyone, every day. Being actively inclusive is a minimum requirement for every youth organisation, regardless the main focus area, otherwise you become part of the problem. To break barriers take time and effort, but inclusion cannot happen as long as they are standing. Pia Nurmio-Perälä


Rural Youth Europe’s theme 2017 is peacebuilding in a changing Europe. All of our activities are youth led. Our aim in 2017 is that actors of the rural youth NGO’s will defend human rights and promote peace in rural Europe.

14-21 May 2017, Budapest, Hungary Voices for Life Organised in cooperation with NSU/Nordic Youth Associations The aim of the study session is for the participants to learn to promote intercultural dialogue and peaceful coexistence in Europe.


Calendar EUROPEAN R A L LY 2 0 17

6-13 August 2017, Ligatnes parish, “Ratnieki”, Latvia Active.Inspired.Rural The aim of AIR is to highlight he effect of today’s actions on tomorrow’s future in order to work in cooperation on European level towards peaceful societies and environmental sustainability.

6-8 September 2017, Jäneda, Estonia Compass towards peaceful rural societies Compass brings together the key people in Rural Youth Europe member organisations to discuss European rural youth NGO leadership and cooperation for peaceful societies. RYEurope General Assembly takes place after the event on 9th September 2017.



8-15 October 2017, Mold, Austria Be a Piece of Peace The overall aim of the project is to actively involve youth workers, leaders and rural youth in defending human rights and promoting peace in a time of change in Europe. The Autumn Seminar participants will create a peacebuilding campaign to take place around Europe.