Project COMMON BOND 2022, organised by Tuesday's Children, is an 8 days long project where young people who share the 'common bond' of having lost a family member due to terrorism, mass violence or (the aftermath of) war come together in order to heal and grow from their trauma and loss.
These young people come from all around the word, with this year participants from Spain, Northern Ireland, Afghanistan, Uganda, Palestine and the UK to name a few.
V- Europe participates to Project COMMON BOND since 2018. This year again, we could send youngsters affected by terrorism to the project. To ensure that there are no financial hindrances for the participants or their families, V-Europe and Tuesday's Children cover all expenses (flights, Visa, etc.)
This year, Project Common Bond took place from 16 till 24 July at the beautiful university campus of Bryn Mawr University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The project wants to empower young people to build a better future and become peace-builders and agents of change in their communities back at home. For that, Tuesday’s Children has developed a specific curriculum around ‘peace building’. Every morning, the participants gathered in small groups, led by trained clinicians, to get to know each other and to create an open and safe space where they can share their stories. By going into dialogue and making a connection around their differences, they learn to understand each other and to respect each other’s dignity.
Project Common Bond is not only about sharing stories, but also about teaching new skills. This was done in the different 'courses'. Participants could choose between art, drama, dance, sports, music and peace building. Even though it is fun to dance or play an instrument, the real purpose of these activities is to deepen the community bond and to heal from the trauma.
The evening activities mostly revolved around cross-cultural exchanges among participants, chaperones and staff mixed with lots of laughter and fun. One of the first nights, there was a 'peace flag' evening organised in the Great Hall, where the youngsters were told to design their own peace flags according to what peace looks like to them. At the international dance evening, participants were encouraged to teach their own cultural dance to their fellow peers, which resulted often in lots of clumsiness on stage and a deafening applause from the crowd. The most fun according to the participants was the famous 'chaperone evening'. All the chaperones were asked to bring some typical things from their country and to present it on a big table. The youth could ask questions and at the same time have a taste of the Bosnian cuisine, the geography of Northern Ireland, the history of Palestine or a good Belgian beer (only to look at) and some Belgian chocolate.
Traditionally they close the week with a talent show. This is when different 'electives' groups come up on stage to perform in front of the others that support them through the common bond that they have build in the past 8 days. At the end of the week, the youngsters can go back home and empower their community to build resilience together.