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<nettime> [Balkansunflower-list] Update 23
Boyd Noorda [admin at dDH] on 26 Jun 2000 03:47:40 -0000


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<nettime> [Balkansunflower-list] Update 23



UPDATE 23

Introduction

A hot summer is beginning for Balkan Sunflowers! We have started operations 
again in Albania, launched summer camps in Kosov {AT} , plan new activities for 
Macedonia (* we need new long-term volunteers for this country, so anybody 
interested please refere to the volunteers' pages on our websites: 
http://www.balkansunflowers.org, and the US wite http://www.usbsf.org).  

We need funds - as usual! - AND fundraisers: the new "package" with 
suggested initiatives for fundraising is coming up soon, so stay tuned: we 
need everybody to give a hand. We also need help to expand and enhance our 
website and carry out other activities for Internet promotion: a team is 
being formed, write to our webmaster (joost {AT} capitolonline.nl) to join in 
the effort.  


Albania

Too many Sunflowers fell in love with Bathore - especially with the kids of 
Bathore! - to let that project go, despite the financial difficulties which 
lead to some weeks of suspension. Therefore a common decision has been made 
to run the risk, keep the Peace Hostel in Tirana open through the summer, 
and hunt for funds high and low to keep our Albanian projects alive. Not 
only Bathore - but we stress this one because the community that we 
discovered there nearly a year ago is really the poorest of the poor.  

Therefore, a proposal has been presented to UNICEF to fund a second edition 
of the MAWA (Mines and Weapon Awareness) Campaign - which was a big success 
and culminated with a largely attended public show in the centre of Tirana 
during the last weekend of April - and bring it to Bathore. The complete 
proposal can be found on BSF website: follow the link 
http://www.ddh.nl/org/balkansunflower/00/MAWAproposal.html

While waiting for UNICEF's approval of this more ambitious program, the new 
country coordinators for Albania, Jessica Taublib-Kiriat and Maarten Voors, 
have reopened the Peace Hostel and prepared the plan of activities for the 
first group of six volunteers that will be working in Albania this summer.  

Play groups with the kids of Bathore will resume. Plans are being made with 
UNICEF, Save the Children and other NGOs to procure funding a social 
awareness summer camp. By method of education through recreation, the 
summer camp will focus on various awareness issues as peace advocacy, 
environmental and health education, sexual harassment, MAWA and child 
rights.  

Besides, here are a few other activities planned for Albania:


Refugee Center Olympia

With many of the refugees from KinoStudio Center now living in the Olympia 
Refugee camp (Kino Studio was closed in April 2000), BSF plans to start 
adult and children's activities. At present  no organization is working 
there at all.  

Refugee Center Catalunya

With the extension by the Catalan government to keep the Center open till 
at least August, plans are being made to restart activities - including 
English classes, art lessons and frequent social visits.  

---------------------------------------

MACEDONIA

Long-term volunteers are needed here, to replace those who have worked in 
Macedonia so far and have now completed their term.  

The highest concentration of BSF activities is still in the Roma community 
of Shutka, where we will also have to help in a new refugee centre to be 
opened in these days for 1,400 people. We will provide different types of 
assistence there, with at least 3/4 volunteers.  

English and computer classes (begginers, intermediate and advanced classes
- for kids and teenagers who don't have computers at home) that we provide 
to kids in Shutka are still largely appreciated - the ARC is happy to have 
our collaboration to offer this service to the people they care for. After 
the first 6 weeks, classes have been changed and new groups have been 
formed for new 6-week courses. The advanced class remained the same. One 
extra hour of English beginners for persons above 15 yrs. has been set up.  

Education is often crucial to offer these kids some hope for the future: we 
have already had cases of people finding a job thanks to their new skills, 
but even the simple support to socialization is extremely important. Having 
some achievement to be proud of is a powerful element of change in the 
lives of these youngsters.  

We continue our work in the "Ros" ("light") community center and have also 
started to do the same in another community centre in Kumanovo, 40 km. from 
Skopje. We have a kindergarten in the morning for the children who are 
alone when their parents are somwhere in  the city, working on markets, 
selling clothes, food... These are very poor families which scrap a living 
this way, but the kids are mostly left to themselves.  

Yet, there are even worse situations: "Brsjacka Buna" is a street in Shutka 
where homeless kids are. We make visits there and carry out recreational 
and other human support and building activities. Now there is need of more 
volunteers to extend the program and make the visits daily. The coordinator 
of BSF Macedonia has also written a funding proposal for the streetchildren 
project.  

More entertainment activities also continue at "Ros", like art and theatre 
classes (waking up the creativity of the kids), that are open for all, 
whenever they want to work. We had a theatre performance, Snow White, on 
June 5th: the costumes were made by BSF volunteers together with the ARC 
sewing class students.  

We now have other activities expanding in other areas of Skopje, like an 
"Outreach" program: everyday visiting poor areas of Skopje where people 
live in terrible conditions. We give them Macedonian and English lessons, 
distribute food and other kind of supplies.  

For July and August , besides the already mentioned work in the new refugee 
camp, we are planning visits to the zoological garden in Skopje once per 
week, theatre plays, art workshops, a cleaning action in Shutka, new 
programs and groups in "Ros".  

----------------------------------

KOSOV {AT} 

BSF is running projects in four cities - Prishtina, Peje, Gjakova and 
Gijlane Since environmental issues are pressing in Kosovo (garbage in 
particular has become a heavy problem in the cities), working on issues 
like cleaning and improving parks and urban environments provides a good 
basis for bringing a local community together; several actions of this type 
have been started/conducted by Balkan Sunflowers in different locations 
around the country.  BSF is promoting environmental actions across Kosovo. 
More volunteers are needed rapidly to maintain the current programs and 
staff summer camp programs starting in early July.  

One word of caution from our Kosovo coordinator: new volunteers will have 
to follow carefully the directives about security of their respective local 
coordinators, since the crime situation in the region has worsened in the 
last few weeks.  


PRISHTINA

We have helped organize cleanups of two large residential complexes, where 
more than 10,000 people live.  Trash is an ongoing problem; the need of 
cleaning becomes urgent as it gets warmer and the risk of disease 
increases. We are working with residents' committees that are taking on new 
functions to help improve their quality of life, and we enjoy good 
cooperation with them and with KFOR and UNMIK.  Our cleanup won good press 
coverage including Balkan Sunflowers airtime on RTK television. Residents' 
committee projects will continue.  The Prishtina team is also working on an 
environmental media campaign and a children's book translation project.  


PEJE

The Peace Garden, created on land provided by a primary school, is evolving 
into a center of activities and part of a summer camp for local children. 
The project for the summer camp is a fairly important one, and has been 
drafted using also principles from the Mine and Weapons Awareness campaign 
that the BSF Albanian team has run so succesfully in that country. You'll 
find a complete description of the underlying principles on a dedicated 
page of our website, at 
http://www.ddh.nl/org/balkansunflower/00/PEJEsumcamp.html

A flower shop in the center of Peje is being readied to sell plants grown 
in the garden and serve as informal environment center. Integrating 
different levels of local community (school children and local workers, 
many of them former fighters) is an important goal behind a very simple 
activity.  

Art and environmental awareness are the basis for several successful BSF 
activities in Peje, besides the basic animation work in collective centres 
like the Konvikt (started already last summer), blind school and kids' 
hospital. Although the Arts centre activities are temporarily suspended 
because the theatre is being renovated, the other projects are in full 
blossom.  

The Parks renovation is finished now. The Urban Environment Awareness 
Campaign has birthed a video program to produce environmental films with 
teenagers.  This is developing into a special youth video center in the 
middle of Peja.  A room to host the project is being renovated by IRC in 
the Peje Youth Centre. Following up the success of the photo workgroup in 
Pakrac (Croatia) during the social reconstruction project there (1993-1997, 
see http://www.ddh.nl/org/pakrac/projects), plans are being made to start 
a similar photo project now in Peja. The volunteer who coordinated the 
photo project in Pakrac is now in Peja.

Cinema nights are continuing - open-air shows have been brought to Karagac 
Park.  

Many of these activities will come together in an eight-week summer day-
camp.  Using our mix of arts, play, music, garden, environmental projects 
this summer we will focus on two themes with the children: Nonviolence and 
Weapons Awareness (based on our outstanding winter program in Albania), and 
Environment and Social Awareness.  Counselors  needed.  


GJAKOVA

To celebrate the "Just clean it!" action (large cleanup operation of the 
whole city that lasted several weeks and involved local citizens and kids, 
with the sponsorship of local and international institutions, and also of 
several private businesses) Balkan Sunflowers helped the students organize 
a huge festival to celebrate the cleaning, but also to have a celebration 
of Spring for the whole community.  It was a big job to arrange, with 
different shows from 8 schools, and 4 other bands, as well as a soccer 
tornament for 21 teams, and clowns and games for all the kids.  We had a 
big turnout-between 2,500 and 3,000 attendees, and it started at 11 in the 
morning and went to around 7 or 8 at night.  It was a huge success and 
everyone enjoyed themselves tremendously.  

And here are the plans for the coming weeks:

First is the youth center.  We have received funding to start a youth 
center here in Gjakova.  Gjakova is one of the only cities in Kosovo that 
doesn't have a youth center in operation.  The Gjakova Student Council 
(with whom we work very closely) and the Student Union are both eager to 
help set something up, as are several big NGO's.  We're trying to set up 
meetings at the moment  to bring all the key players together to see how we 
can all collaborate.  

Second is the possibility of a Summer Camp. UNMIK has approached us to see 
if we could run a summer camp for the children of the municipality for the 
months of July and August.  This is an amazing opportunity for BSF, and we 
have to get proposals together really quickly to put this together.  It is 
especially interesting since UNMIK and UNHCR are most likely closing the 4 
transit centers in which we work by June 30th (we are still working with 
kids at the Brickworks, Kindergarten and Slovenian village transit 
centres). The first idea was to have an overnight camp at a former transit 
center on the River Drini.  Offered to the children of Gjakova, and most 
particularly those most affected by the war, eight one-week sleepover camps 
will give the children new experiences and skills in a loving and 
supportive atmosphere.  

Third is an action of support, rather than a BSF-run project.  We've helped 
the Gjakova Student Council to put together a proposal to receive funding 
for  a  long term Environmental Awareness Campaign.  They have received 
funding, but have never run a media/information campaign like this before, 
and will need a lot of guidance, input, and occasional pushing from behind! 

Murals: after the first one (which has become a Gjakova landmark), two 
other murals have been completed, one on the theme of Earth Day.  We are 
currently working on a long-term mural project, gathering designs from 
schools around the world, donated  to the schools of Gjakova, for an 
international mural.  At present, we are working on a design from Texas, 
USA.  


GJILAN

The Gjilan transit centers have closed, after many months when BSF 
volunteers provided activities for children, arranged medical visitations, 
sources needed food, developed a UNICEF registered preschool, taught 
English and computer skills to people of all ages.  

We are exploring a number of new projects in Gjilan, including renovation 
of a city park and living and working in the city's Roma community.
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