MEMBERS of a bi-communal initiative are meeting in northern in Nicosia on Sunday, many for the first time, to take part in a third crochet art installation event to promote peace and friendship between the two communities.
Around 30 women will travel to Nicosia from Paphos, cross the checkpoint and congregate at Buyuk Han on Sunday to meet with their Turkish Cypriot counterparts.
“Our Turkish Cypriots friends wanted to do it there and we loved the idea. We have managed to gather over two thousand crochet pieces,” said one of the founders of the Peace2Peace initiative, Christiana Mouzouri.
Peace2Peace was formed by three women – Greek Cypriots, Christiana Mouzouri, Elena Daniel and Turkish Cypriot, Nilgun Akin. Members hand crochet hundreds of pieces which are joined together to form open air art installations.
Their first project in August saw them decorate an anchor at Paphos harbour, for the second they created crochet flowers to adorn a landmark tree outside the municipal gallery in Paphos, to promote peace and friendship.
The initiative is about involving women from all over Cyprus in these events, enabling them to exchange ideas, break down prejudices and really get to know each other, without any politics getting in the way, Mouzouri said.
This time, the hand crochet pieces are squares, measuring 8cm by 8cm and are resplendent with each woman’s own designs. Mouzouri said that these would be joined together to dress a bench and some exterior bannisters.
“This is the first time that so many of us will meet together, both sides will come together and join the event. Only a few Turkish Cypriot women could come to Paphos, so many of us haven’t met, it’s very exciting.”
Mouzouri said that a number of Greek Cypriot women who have now joined the group were wary of Turkish Cypriots before, as many didn’t know any, but have since joined the group in the spirit in which it was started, have made stunning crochet pieces and will be crossing the border for the first time on Sunday.
One such woman, Anna Tslepou, had thought long and hard before deciding to make the trip – and to leave the past in the past.
Tselepou’s father was killed by Turkish Cypriots during the intercommunal conflict of 1963-1964.
She said that the death of her father had stigmatised her life in the ‘worst way.’
“I was 20 months old when I lost my father in the intercommunal riots. He left behind a 30-year-old wife and four children,” she said.
“I had a very difficult childhood. Painfully so I would say. It’s hard enough when your father has died, but so much worse when he has been killed.”
Tselepou said that she saw joining Peace2Peace as “an opportunity to find what unites us and not what divides us”.
“I am convinced that with the Turkish Cypriots, we don’t have problems and we can solve things between us. The important issue for me is the Turkish intransigence.”
Mouzouri said that Tselepou believes that if someone like her, who had always been opposed to friendship between the communities, can move forwards then anyone can.
“She wants to fly the flag of friendship which will perhaps help others to stop and think. She is an amazing person.”
For further information: Peace2Peace Open Air Crochet Installations on Facebook