wam kat on Thu, 8 Apr 1999 08:45:50 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Sunflowers update 3

Please email, snailmail, fax, telephone this appeal around in the

update 2 with the sunflower idea can be found at:

Balkan Sunflowers
c/o wam kat
Postfach 1219
D-14806 Belzig
+49-(0)33841- 595 33 (88 fax)


Centar za Mirovne Studije
(center for peace studie)
Vanja Nikolic


Slowly the initiative "Let the sunflowers blossom again" is growing
from a chaotic personal initiative to a better coordinated action. At
this moment we are establishing an coordination office here in Germany
and thanks to personal financial supports in the last few days, we
also have the money together for the first expensives.

First group of International Volunteers to Albania and Macedonia

If this initiative continues with the same speed as in the last 5
days, it is very good possible that the first group of volunteers
already will be able to go working in refugee camps around the mid of
May. This may sound a bit disappointed for those who rather would like
to go today instead of tomorrow, but the whole action has to be
prepared well otherwise the international volunteers will rather work
negative instead of positive.

And within the coming weeks the war will be slowly disappairing from
the daily media, but refugees will be still there. And especially them
our help be worthfull.

Please if you already know at this moment if, wenn and how you will be
able to join this first teams (or later teams) send a message to me
wam@mir.org or vnikolic@zamir.net with this information, your ages,
your proffession, etc. So we can start planning.


Before the first group can go there we however need a group of about
10 socalled pathfinders. People who are able (time, energy and money)
to go directly to Skopje or Tirana in order to report from there what
the situation in the refugee centers look like, where we will be able
to start, building up the network on the ground. If somebody has this
possibility please contact us.

Important among other things is to make contacts with local and
national authorities and care-takers of the different refugee centers
in order to get the agreement to be able to work in those centers at
all. In Croatia and Bosnia SunCokret (Sunflowers) worked in 35 or more
centers and we never had big problems in getting the green light for
coming. But still it has to be done poperly.


Not yet, but within the coming days this address will appair at the
internet,  although I have got some help here already it will be still
rather be a lot of extra work to do all the design and update work
from here. There for if somebody wants to help that way, please react.

What kind of skills should int. volunteers have

The last days I get a lot of mails from people who musicians, theater
players or makers, painters, asking me if they can be of any help.
Most people think that helping in refugee camps means that we need
technical and medical skill, building up tents, creating water
supplies, healing people, etc.. Although SunCokret had it own medical
aid part, and helped with building of camps, the basic work was
however totally different. A specially people with creative skills are
wanted. The big organistion like ICRC, UNHCR, IRC, Care, Cape Anamur,
Medicines sans Frontier, etc. are mostly very cape-able (after some
starting time) to take care of most of the basics. So please don't
hesitate, especially creative people are needed. F.e. if you are able
to make theater, even without words, this would be beautifull. Or if
you can make video films with kids. Or sing songs. Or are good in
sports. Or knows everything about making pottery. Please thats what we


Another point is that people ask me about, is about the trauma's. Let
me tell you one thing this people are normal human beings. They went
through and are going through a very traumatic experience and ofcourse
professional help in this field is needed. But believe me after the
Bosnian war I learned that there never be enough people around the
whole world trained in trauma crisis intervention who are able to
cover this problem. I already found a few trauma crisis intervention
experts who are willing to help to set up some training programms for
volunteers, and more are ofcourse welcome and needed to join this

But you don't have to be a mind doctor to work with (traumatised)
kids. We may not always be able to cure traumatic experiences from the
past, we are however cape-able of preventing a few from coming up.

I don't know a word Albanian

To be honest, I also still have to learn my first Albanian words,
already started to learn it a bit from Kosovo Albanian refugees who
already live some time here in Germany, but that wouldn't be much.
When I came to Croatia I didn't knew the languages as well, after
almost 5 years this changed ofcourse a bit. Nevertheless not knowing
the languages never have been the problem, as long as the volunteers
among eachother at least speak or are able to speak at least in the
same type of language (my english is by far perfect).

You will notice how many (at least) young Kosovarian speak or at least
are able to understand english or german (also french, but less) or
any slavic language. But if not they have the time and the will to
learn it from you. All over Bosnia former refugee speaks english with
accents from all over the world, thanks to SunCokret (Sunflower)

And ofcourse there are always way to communicate, you will notice how
much you can tell with your face, your hands, your body and your
feets. Often a total new experience.

Not speaking the languages can even be an adventage in some way, if
you would be able you also will hear every sad story, about what has
happened with each kid, each women, each men in the last months and
years. And that is not always easy. You will see enough, also without
understanding each story.

Regional and national contact points

In the last days people took over this initiative and started to
organise networks in their own region. It would be good if I can
include in the next update a lists of this regional and national
contact points, so please if you or your organisation mail this to me,
in order that I can include that addresses in the next update.

Contacts in Albania and Macedonia

The first contacts in Macedonia are getting on itīs way, in Albania we
are still looking for contacts, so if some of you have partner
organisations there, or friends, or whatever, please inform us.

Individuals and organisations who support this initiative

Although a lot of persons, by sending me a personal email have
expressed that they support this initiative we would like a list of
more or less known people (from political, churches, unions, human
rights, etc, organisations activities, or winners from (alternative)
nobel peace prizes), who support this idea. If you are such a person,
or know such a person, again please inform us so we can draw up such a
support list. That will be helpfull in the near future in order to get
official support.


Although the whole organisation is working in full speed at this
moment, it will take a few days more to open a special bankaccount.
Again when your organisation has already such a possibility than
notify so that I can include it in the next update.

Media and press

The internet is a very strong and powerfull media, still it's outreach
is limited to those people who co-incendently got a message like this
and reacted. Therefor it was nice to be contacted by different
journalists from television, radio and newspapers in the last days.
Among a lot of not so international know medias there was f.e. the new
york times, who wanted information about this initiative. Allthough I
am what you can call a kind of believer of the internet, I am very
happy when newspapers take over this initiative and write about it. We
need the widest support in every possible way.

Spreading this information

Still people ask me if it is ok if they spread this information, my
answer is clear and simply, please send it to anybody, any newsgroup,
translate it in each languages, form or leaflet, since you will be
surprised how many people want to help. I have messages back from
different countries were they already translated everything and spread
it around.

I want to help, but not to Balkan

The first and biggest help at this moment is spreading this
information. Lets get this message to the right persons. But ofcourse
you also can start support activities, by taking over the travel cost
of somebody who wants to go, but can't pay it. Or for the paint,
paper, pensils, balls or what ever is needed in those refugee centers.
And ofcourse a bit for the infra structure to coordinate all this,
sorry but it is one of those things.

Experiences of old SunCokret volunteers

I didn't have the time to go over the whole internet, but I know that
lot's of the former SunCokret volunteers wrote stories or kept open
diaries (like the Zaged Diary) online. Were you can read how the first
Sunflowers started to blossom.


It maybe not even needed to be said, but still, this is a strictly
non-violent initiative. It is also non-nationalistic. Simular projects
like in Croatia and Bosnia took in Serbia, and some of this project
still run or were still running up to about 15 days. It is there to
help the victims of war, not to support or take part in new ones.


Wednesday 7. April 1999

Today it is almost precisely 7 years ago that I started a small action
in Zagreb, the town in those days was full with sandbags, althought
the war more or less in Croatia was over, UNPROFOR just arrived and
this situation of relative peace would stay on in Croatia untill 1995,
but that is another story. Anyway I started to put sunflower seeds in
those sandbags and within a couple of weeks everywhere in Zagreb you
could see small sunflower coming out the sandbags and searching their
way to the sun. The slavic word SunCokret also means "turning towards
the sun". When fastest and biggest flowers were not bigger than 50 cm
the town started to remove all the sandbags and slowly the athmosphere
of war disappaired from the daily townlife.

In the main time we started in the Anti War Campaign office in Zagreb
the initiative with human sunflowers in refugee centers. After a
preparation time of 3 weeks, we started the first three camps in the
biggest refugee camps around Croatia and stayed there for years. This
happened in the spring time like the real sunflowers. Just a little

Mir Sada !!!


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