It was middle of June when our team consisted of Nami, Konstantin, Elena, Sefat and Monika, met to plan everything about going to the 37th YEU Convention in the beautiful Portugal. Because none of us have been on some of the previous YEU Conventions, this was completely new experience for all of us.
The breathtaking landscape of Portugal was worth it for such a long travel from Macedonia to Portugal. But the real surprises were during the sessions on the Convention. What is hate speech, hate crime, counter & alternative narratives, stereotypes, prejudices? Those were the questions that make us to think twice.
Honestly, there were moments when we felt lost with all those terms and definitions but in the end these things were crucial in creating our local activities. The border between freedom of speech and hate speech is so tiny. It was a real challenge to learn to recognize the hate speech and the narrative behind it. Sharing the real life stories with participants from 11 countries helped us to realize that we are facing the same problems, more or less. The moment when we were able to find the narratives behind the problems that were worrying us, we started with planning and preparing for organizing local activities.
The already done preparation helped us to better organize the Human Library – People with disabilities. When we went back home, we invited people that work in daycare center for people with disabilities called “Poraka Nasa”. Sharing the real life stories of people who are having time to drink coffee with you, to ask how was your day, to give you hug… despite all the problems they have is something that made us really ashamed. Because we often forget to love, care, enjoy, be happy, spend time with our closest ones… We are bothering ourselves with every possible thing that we pretty often forget to live and enjoy the life.
We have to remember that we do not have the power to choose how we will be born. Also there are people who got some disability during their life due to accidents. Life is not something that we can predict or plan. But accepting who you are and getting the maximum of it is making the life easier and beautiful at the same time.
In our experience, when you meet people with disabilities the first thing that you notice is the happiness that they are bringing with them. These people have so big hearts and they have so much love in them, that we can call them the messengers of love. We are sure that the love that they have in them is like no other. Instead of ignoring these people, we should start learning from them. It is time to learn to live life with an open mind and heart.