Saturday, January 19, 2013

Latvia Abandoned Villages # 3

Russians, constituting 27.6% of the whole population, is the largest ethnic group among the minorities living in Latvia. And in many regions they are the target of harsh discrimination, abuse and restricted access to public assistance. This is the ethnic group that is the focus of the FSAOF Latvia Mission projects. Most in this ethnic group consists of immigrants who arrived after 1945 as a result of the Latvian Soviet occupation and their descendents. Sadly the discrimination is not limited to non-Christian groups or organizations.

Our teams make the SA Skangal Conference Center our ‘home’ and mission control center. It is a short 5 minutes from Sakarni, a ‘dumping site’ where ethnic Russian alcoholics are housed. The Army has a sophisticated and active childrens programme there. 

Thirty minutes north across the river in Valmeira is Seda, a village totally forgotten and abandoned and populated by 1700 ethnic Russian women and children. The village was once one of the leading peat producing areas of Latvia with a population exceeding 5,000. With the closing of the Soviet controlled peat production the majority of adult men and many women left Seda in search of employment elsewhere and never returned.

According to Jung, Christianity works by a process called enantiodromia meaning literally ‘over and against the natural order of things.’ He suggests this thereby brings the individual’s internal civil war to an end. We apply Jung’s philosophy on a larger scale in working with warring ethnic populations.

We initiated and sponsored trans-ethnic, religious, music/arts, cultural and educational projects in two Russian ethnic villages on our very first FSAOF Latvia mission in 2008 . To that end we continue to seek innovative projects in terms of content and methodology that deliberately embrace and create new approaches in converting the re-union of the warring halves of the rural Latvians in the district targeted by the FSAOF where we promote religious training, artistic and educational projects addressing the young aiming at actively encouraging those who will help in shaping the 21st century.

Moreover, we are now expanding our program through the introduction of cross- cultural training of older teens and adults. In June 2013 the FSAOF project will include new supporting projects and programs. This will be initiated by two academically qualified former officer professors as we seek to build cultural bridges for young and older people to create a civil society based on common Western European motives and values. We see this as an important way to secure peace and prosperity in the current Latvian generation and generations to follow. These professionals will also be made available to train Latvian cadets, officers and employees. Students and faculty of the University of Latvia, in Riga, may also be invited.

Three guiding principles inspiring our work: empowerment of individuals and communities through religion, art and cultural awareness, and connecting sources of knowledge linking SA policy and practice by offering information and training in the cultural, social and political life among the  Latvian Russian ethnic population. 

Dr. Sven Ljungholm
Former SA Officer
Birkenhead Corps, UKIT

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