United Nations Developing Programme (UNDP) organized the Central Asian Youth Creative Camp on 15–19 July 2019 in Issyk-Kul. Thirty six participants from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan worked with six mentors over five days. 

The purpose of the Сamp was to promote regional youth cooperation in Central Asia through discussions and exchanges of views on SDG 16 and the role of youth in creating peaceful, fair and inclusive societies. The event was held within the regional UNDP project “Strengthening Community Resilience and Regional Cooperation for Prevention of Violent Extremism in Central Asia”, funded by the Government of Japan.

The representative of the Embassy of Japan in Kyrgyz Republic, Mr. Ryota Saito emphasized that the young generation in the Central Asian region has a very important role for sustainable development not only in this region but also all over Eurasia. On behalf of the Japanese government, he wished the Youth Camp participants to contribute to strengthening friendships among the nations.

The Сamp convened diverse youth groups to take part in workshops, creative sessions and mentoring centered on the themes of youth inclusion and participation, young people’s challenges and priorities in their communities, and the role and needs of young women and men for building the resilience of their communities against marginalisation and exclusion.

Participants from different countries, divided into separate product-based teams, created 5 media products: a short film, an animated cartoon, a magazine, a photo/video essay and a music video to tell their stories.

“Sometimes you find songs that you just listen to and it seems as if it’s written about you. Music helps to express your thoughts, feelings, emotions, explain something about you. For me music turned out to be a very important tool for self-expression. I really enjoyed being a part of the team that worked on the music video about importance of peace”, noted Madi, a participant from Kazakhstan.

The power of art and creativity to inspire change in young people and their communities has received growing attention as a valuable conflict prevention, peacebuilding and empowerment tool. Creative methods lead to new ways of thinking and expressing thoughts and difficult emotions, play an important role in bringing diverse communities together, helping young people voice their views and priorities in innovative ways.

“36 young leaders from three countries of Central Asia attended the camp. Our group created a small film-essay on the strength of a woman’s spirit. Despite public censure she takes an important step, both for understanding oneself and for saving lives. I would like to thank the participants for their dedication. For the sake of filming, they got up at 6 in the morning, swam in icy water for several hours, sat at the assembly until dawn. The good news is that our team decided to send this film to the international festivals”, said Mr. Bolot Alimbayev, a professional producer, filmmaker and mentor for the film group.

The camp also served as an opportunity to acquire soft skills and practical tools for future use, as well as build bridges among Central Asian youth and increase their intercultural exchange and understanding.

“UNDP pays great attention to the development of young people in Central Asia through strengthening their life skills. Thus, in Kazakhstan, we have held two Youth Camps, as well as the first Central Asian Younithone (Youth Unity Marathone) for the study of advanced youth practices. As facilitators of this event, we believe that creativity not only helps to express their views, but also strengthens the socio-cultural interaction between our countries and further development of the region", said Ms. Ainur Kanafina, Regional project manager of the UNDP in Kazakhstan.

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The regional project “Strengthening Community Resilience and Regional Cooperation for Prevention of Violent Extremism in Central Asia”, with a total budget of $ 6.4 million USD (2018-20), is funded by the Government of Japan and implemented by the UNDP. It aims to help build the resilience of vulnerable youth groups to violent extremism by improving the socio-economic participation of young men and women and strengthen regional networks in Central Asia.

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