Potamia May Fair – A celebration of diversity

May 26, 2013

Traditional Cypriot dance at the Potamia Fair (Photo: UNDP-ACT)

 

A fair organized by the community in the small village of Potamia gathered more than 350 people on 26 May to celebrate the efforts of past and current residents in writing a collective narrative of their unique experience as a mixed village. The event hosted people of all ages, both current and former Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot residents, and featured a photo exhibition, traditional music and dances and historical material based on the villagers’ own stories and personal memories.

The fair was an event organized as part of a project involving local authorities and the entire community in transforming a traditional house in Potamia into a museum for the village. The aim of the project is to create, through a participatory process facilitated by UNDP-ACT, a shared community space celebrating the multicultural heritage of the village and the peaceful coexistence of its people throughout history. The project also aims o strengthen local development by providing employment opportunities for the community and by creating new avenues for sustainable tourism in the area. 

From the beginning, the community decided to involve former Turkish Cypriot residents of Potamia and all the activities were managed by the Potamia Heritage Board, composed of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots appointed by the community.  The event sparked a wealth of memories, dialogue and reflection among those assembled at the village square. Stories, which could have been forgotten, were remembered and told to each other in front of pictures capturing village events, family functions, historical moments and the daily life of this special community.

The fair also included the launch of the photographic album “Potamia – living together through photography”, authored by community member, Mr Ibrahim Aziz, with photographs provided by a number of villagers: this collective and inclusive effort at showing the peaceful coexistence in the village is a demonstration of the community’s desire to preserve the legacy of their shared experience. Following the success of the event, the book will be at the centre of other presentations across the island in the coming months. 

In their welcome remarks, Mr. Panikos Yiatrou, the Greek Cypriot Mukhtar of the village and Mr. Christopher Louise, UNDP-ACT Programme Manager, emphasized  that this experience shows that trust and reconciliation can become a reality when space is given to local communities to participate in the process.

The project is supported by UNDP-Action for Cooperation and Trust with funds from USAID.

Contact Information

Panikos Yiatrou: +35722455902 or Bambos Pericleous: +35799674444 or Suna Evran: +905338384488.

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