Religious Youth Service

Religious Youth Service Project to Take Place in Georgia

When? July 21-30


Samegrelo, Georgia
Contact Vitaly Maksimov, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Samegrelo, Georgia - Building on the success of last July's Religious Youth Service project at an orphanage in Zugdidi, UPF-Georgia is organizing a project in that region of western Georgia from July 21 to 30.

During that first RYS project in Georgia, 20 participants and eight staff members from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cote d'Ivoire, Georgia, and Russia lived and worked together in Zugdidi, the capital of Samegrelo, as an interfaith and international community.

The peacemaking approach of RYS was highly appreciated by the partner organization, “Save the Future Generation,” and the city government and the orphanage would like to continue their involvement with RYS. The project also built connections with Georgia's Council of Religions operated by the Human Rights Ombudsman in Tbilisi, the capital.

UPF's South Caucasus Peace Initiative promotes a culture of peace by building personal connections between people from enemy nations, such as Georgians and Russians and also Azerbaijanis, Armenians, and Turks. Project participants have carried letters and gifts back and forth between children in Georgia and Russia, and cultural programs in Yekaterinburg, Russia, have been introducing the rich diversity of Georgia's history, geography, language, films, music, and cuisine to Russians as part of the "Urals - Georgia: We'll Be Friends" project. 

The Samegrelo region is on the Black Sea close to the border with Abkhazia. At various times over the centuries it was part of the kingdom of Colchis and its successor, Egrisi; then it was an independent principality, part of the Russian empire, and part of the Soviet Union. In 1991, independence was restored to Georgia, of which Samegrelo is now part.

People of many ethnic groups and religious traditions inhabit the mountains and valleys of the Caucasus, leading to periodic geopolitical conflicts. In the two decades since the breakup of the Soviet Union, Samegrelo has suffered from the conflict between the Georgian government and their neighbors to the north in the disputed region of Abkhazia. The conflict, one of the bloodiest in post-Soviet history, has not been resolved. While Christianity and Islam are the major religions in the region, Christians are divided among the Georgian Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, and the Armenian Apostolic Churches; the Muslims are divided among various Shi'a and Sunni groups.

Through Religious Youth Service, young people from diverse backgrounds living and working together for the greater good model the possibility of healing the divisions in the larger human family.

Draft schedule

Saturday                      21 July                         Arrivals & Orientation

Training on communication skills and listening
Discussion: “Who creates peace?”
Welcoming Evening

Sunday                        22 July                         Visit to a Georgian Orthodox Church

Outing (Dadiani Palace Museum, XIX cent.)
Insight into aspects of the faiths of participants
Team building. Safety at work instructions

Monday                        23 July                         1st Work Day (introduction & begin work)

Renovate the Center for Continuing Education
Group discussions: “Dignity of Labor”
Insights into the culture and religiosity of Georgia

Tuesday                       24 July                         2nd Work Day (boxwood forest)

Outing in nature
“Fostering a Culture of Peace through Service”
“Why religious and cultural differences exist”

Wednesday                 25 July                         3rd Work Day (boxwood forest)

“Family as the building block for peace”
Cultural Program (All participants displaying
a cultural aspect of their countries)

Thursday                      26 July                         4th Work Day (at the orphanage)

Renovate kitchen and sport ground
Creative activities with children
Cultural evening for the local population
Movie night

Friday                           27 July                          5th Work Day (ecological project)

Visit a mosque for Muslim Friday prayer
Visit a synagogue

Saturday                      28 July                           Remembrance of all world religions

Hiking at Mukhuri, sports
Reflection - period of silence in nature
Cultural and talent night

Sunday                        29 July                          Guidance for reflection, Reflection

Reflection period
Evaluation, testimonies
Community celebration with the local administration
Dinner at the home of community members
Participant departures

Monday                       30 July                          Staff Refection and Departures


For more information email Vitaly Maksimov: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To read about the many ways UPF's South Caucasus Peace Initiative is building connections between the people in the region, click here.


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