The healing process has begun in Jalalabad. Legacy’s Kyrgyz Women’s Initiative participant, Feruze Tolonova is accomplishing her goal of healing ethnic divisions among youth.
She recognized that the majority of people engaged in violence of the recent ethnic conflict between Kyrgyz and Uzbek ethnic communities were Youth. They became the main participants of the tragic events and took part in many of the aggressive actions. As a result of the conflict, a sense of apprehension and fear of each other was evident in her community.
Feruza Tolonova, the head of the public association “Temirkan Datka,” in Jalalabad, felt the urgent need to educate youth about Tolerance and to address one of the major factors: lack of a communication platform for youths of different ethnicities.
Professionally, Feruza is responsible for successful organizational activities, establishing public relations, fundraising, and pursuing partnerships with other organizations to building capacity of women and youths through social mobilization in her local area of southern Kyrgyzstan.
Through her involvement in Legacy’s Kyrgyz Women’s Leadership Development and NGO Capacity -Building program she has successfully begun to address the issues of ethnic conflict in her region.
She and 10 other Kyrgyz women participated in this initiative designed to positively impact emerging professionals (community leaders, political leaders, educators, and youth workers), to strengthen grassroots organizations in the Republic of Kyrgyzstan, as well as the mutual understanding of the role of civil society in the U.S. and Kyrgyzstan.
She expressed to Legacy her interest in learning “what U.S. NGOs do to improve the economic status of women, how they work with women; and how NGOs cooperate with government.”
As a result of her involvement in this Kyrgyz Women’s Initiative, she chose to focus on Youth for Peace in her follow-on project. Follow-on projects are carried out by each alumna, and each is supported by $1,000 mini-grants from Legacy. (Efforts of fellow participant, Zhumagul Bolponova, can be read at: “A Legacy of Ethnic Cooperation”)
Feruza’s “Youth for Peace” project goals:
- decrease conflict tension among young people by promoting values and skills of tolerance
- mobilize 90 young people from Jalalabad area to create a platform for communication among youth by training and practicing conflict prevention techniques.
- target youth, University teachers, religious leaders, representatives of local government in Jalalabad and thereby improve the relations
- start a constructive dialogue between these groups
- strengthen friendships among youth of different ethnic groups.
Feruza and her team planned a series of events for youth of different ethnicities to share perspectives while providing them with conflict prevention skills. Youth under the age of 30 are trained on aspects of tolerance and conflict mediation while having the opportunity to make new friends across ethnic lines.