See what happens in Antakya, Turkey, Ekinci village!
by: Francesco Stoduto, member of Servas Italy
Ekinci, a normal village, near Antakya (ancient Antioch), with its daily life, shops, children, schools, a little asleep in the summer ...
From 2009, with a forced break (but also circumvented) during the pandemic, it has experienced an explosion of life, games, meetings, parties.
Thanks to Mehmet Ateş, a young English teacher who, returning on vacation to his village, decided to involve the children of the town in a whirlwind of activities for a couple of weeks, to help them live together, to develop their knowledge of English, to learn about, appreciate and love diversity, locally and internationally.
Little by little the group has grown; young people and adults, and the children themselves, as they grew up, collaborated in these weeks. Then Servas guests from all over the world arrived, and the Peace School has become something unique and wonderful that has been going on for so many years!
And it happens that an old Servas member from southern Italy, having heard of it, wants to leave, but, blocked by the pandemic, takes part in the online activities that Mehmet quickly manages to organize in place of physical meetings.
It happens that, after a couple of years, when the pandemic has slowed down, the Peace School resumes normally and the magic is reborn!
So it happens that that old man decides to leave, arrives at 4.30 in the morning, is greeted with a big hug by the girl he had only met online two years earlier, accompanied in his family and hosted as a brother ... sorry, like a grandfather!
And then full immersion in the whirlwind of days full of children, young people, adults, activities of all kinds, for all the short time I had allowed myself, without being able to live the final day of the Peace School, but fortunately without losing the final party, on the evening of July 13, with the large courtyard full of people, all the inhabitants around, the families of young volunteers and those hosting foreign guests, music, songs, dances, in general joy!
Everything is unforgettable: the children, the animators/interpreters, the Servas friends from India, Pakistan, Mexico, Italy, Russia, the host families, indeed very hospitable! And all the other friends who contributed to wonderful days, between the heat and the wind of southwestern Turkey.
How to finish? in addition to a huge THANK YOU to Mehmet and all the staff, we can only resume some considerations that he gave us in closing:
• Peace and friendship are not a dream, they are possible, indeed they are real, if we want it!
• The little ones teach us more than we can teach them!
• Children, young people, ordinary people want peace and mutual friendship, it is enough to break the first shell that we carry inside, often made up only of prejudices.
• We are not alone, there are many like us, it is enough just to know, but we can also connect better and better and the wave of peace will become greater.
We must be able to bring the charge that comes from these experiences into our groups and into our everyday life, and try to develop them each in his own environment.
"With every true friendship we build more firmly the foundations on which the peace of the whole world rests." Gandhi