Call for Youth Exchange Participants: Rediscover hidden cultural heritage sites of Kosovo

Konaku_i_Manastirit_të_DeçanitPhoto: Kroni Krasniqi

GAIA Kosovo and the Orthodox Monastery of Draganac, with the support of World Vision, are organizing a youth exchange about cultural heritage, peace and religion in Velika Hoča/ Hoçë e Madhe, from 24th until 29th of September 2018. Come discover the way of living of a centuries-old winemaking community of Kosovo!

During this youth exchange, participants will have an opportunity to:

  • Learn about cultural and religious heritage of Velika Hoča/ Hoçë e Madhe
  • Get a taste of local foods and home made products 
  • Visit Prizren, a beautiful city where histories, cultures, religions and peoples merge
  • Visit several orthodox monasteries from medieval times among which some are on the UNESCO’s World Heritage list
  • Learn from and experience the everyday life of the Serbian minority in this small community, ‘hidden‘ behind vineyards
  • Engage in discussions about the interrelations of peace and religion

We are looking for 15 participants from Kosovo who are interested in spending 4 days in the small village, to exchange and learn about the intersection of cultural and religious heritage in a region which comprises lesser known cultural elements of the country. The youth exchange is about tolerance and understanding, and seeks to reach open-minded people who are genuinely interested in meeting different cultures.

General conditions:

  • To arrive on 24th at the afternoon and depart on 29th in the morning
  • To be present during the whole duration of the youth exchange
  • To be ready to actively participate in the program
  • To be over 18
  • Coming from Kosovo 
  • To agree to eating vegetarian food
  • To share small space with fellow participants

If you are one of them, you can apply by filling in the online application form by 20th of September.
Food and accommodation will be provided and travel costs will be reimbursed upon GAIA receives the tickets.
For any questions, please do not hesitate to get in contact with us: gaia.kosovo@gmail.com

About the community
Velika Hoča (local dialect: Golema Oča, Albanian: Hoçë e Madhe) is a village located near the town of Rahovec/Orahovac. It is one of the Serbian enclaves in Kosovo, and houses some 13 Orthodox church buildings, most of which date back to the Middle Ages. It was first mentioned in history in 1198, but the region itself was populated even during antiquity. The village is famous for its viticulture, a tradition that also dates back to the antiquity. Therefore Velika Hoča is often called the “village museum”.
Last year, GAIA organized another youth exchange, entitled “Balkan Myth Busters” with participants from Bulgaria, Germany, Kosovo, Macedonia, Serbia. If you’re interested in their program check out their short film and read about participant’s experience: The first days, Getting active, It goes on and on.

About GAIA

GAIA is a non-governmental organization dedicated to the culture of peace, social and environmental justice and sustainable living. GAIA also promotes cultural diversity and works on education and integration of marginalized and minority groups in society. The main activities of GAIA are international volunteering programs (workcamps, long-term volunteering), non-formal education (trainings, seminars, workshops, youth exchanges) and permanent community building programs.
GAIA is a full member of SCI (Service Civil International), a volunteer organisation dedicated to promoting a culture of peace by organising international voluntary projects for people of all ages and backgrounds. Throughout the years, SCI has made a major contribution to the development of the main forms of volunteering. Year after year, the organisation enables thousands of volunteers to participate in community projects.

About Draganac Monastery

Draganac Monastery is located in the beautiful mountainous area of the eastern part of Kosovo. Currently, the brotherhood consists of 10 monks and novices, which take care of the monastery, orchards, animals etc.
Since 2016, GAIA and Draganac Monastery have been cooperating through organization of international voluntary camps which gathered young people from different ethnicities and cultures coming from many countries such as Croatia, Serbia, Kosovo, France, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, and others.

 

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Open letter regarding illegal landfill in Brezovica ski resort

To the responsible institutions, media, NGOs and international donors

Regarding illegal landfill in Brezovica ski resort in Sharr Mountain National Park

 

GAIA, European Voluntary Service volunteers and young people from the Balkans want to express their resentment and frustration regarding the existence of an illegal landfill in Ski center Brezovica within the Territory of National Park Sharr Mountain. More than 50 young people from Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Germany, Kosovo, Lithuania, Macedonia, Russia, Serbia, Spain and the UK are insisting that the responsible institutions take action and clear the landfill. The youngsters and the organization recognize that the existence of the landfill is part of a bigger challenge regarding waste management within the ski resort and the National Park, therefore we are encouraging the respectful institutions to implement long-term solutions that actually prevent the creation of new landfills within the ski resort.

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12 volunteers of European Voluntary Service (initiative of Erasmus+ program of the European Commission) and 40 young people from the Balkans taking part in a Youth for Sharr gathering (supported by the Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO) participated in a clean-up action organized by GAIA in the ski resort in the beginning of August. The illegal landfill in the entrance of the ski resort became the centre of the action, with volunteers collecting more than 200 trash bags from just a single part of the mountain slope. Most of the trash included glass bottles (beer, wine, water), plastic bottles and packages, construction material leftovers, broken ski equipment, diapers and other traces of human presence. It is clear that the intensive tourism in combination with a lack of control and collective reluctance to deal with the problem has ended up in a slope full of garbage, piling up for years.

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We find unacceptable that the resources of Sharr Mountain are being exploited in the name of profit while we ignore our responsibilities towards nature and the future generations. GAIA has previously expressed its strong opinions against other investment projects which threaten the values of the mountain, such as an expansion of the ski resort and small hydropower plants. Sharr mountain is proclaimed as a National Park and is even proposed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is the center of mountain biodiversity of Europe, with 2000 plant species, 339 Balkan endemic species and 18 local. Sharr is the habitat for brown bear, lynx, wolves, chamois, wild cat and other mammals, at least 147 butterfly species, 159 bird species, 47 amphibian and reptile species and many other.  Sharr mountain does not deserve tons of garbage on forest slopes going into the rivers that flow through the Balkans.

We understand that waste management is a challenging topic in Kosovo, however, we believe that with political will and joint efforts we can solve the specific case of Brezovica ski resort and its garbage. When it comes to clearing the landfill, GAIA is willing to support the organization of volunteer actions with local and international volunteers. When it comes to long-term solutions, we suggest an information campaign is needed to clarify to visitors and local people what is allowed and forbidden when it comes to waste in the ski center and in the National park, who the responsible institutions are and to encourage people to report when witnessing illegal activities. Strict control over visitors and businesses and issuing fine tickets to the ones not following the regulations is also crucial.

GAIA has been active in the region of Brezovica since 2015 by bringing young people from different countries together for activities dedicated to nature protection and environmental justice. In 2017 with European volunteers we have conducted a clean-up action at the illegal landfill, the results of which are still visible nowadays (video). So far we have received support from the respective institutions (Municipality of Štrpce/Shtërpcë, National park Sharr), therefore we believe a common solution can be found.

We are looking forward to receiving your answers and possible solutions.

For further contact: gaia.kosovo@gmail.com, 043918118 (Miroslava Popova, in English).

 

With regards,                                                                                                                                    Date: 07.09.2018

Helena Poucki,

Legal representative of GAIA

 

GAIA (website, facebook) is an organization dedicated to culture of peace, social justice, sustainable development and respect of environment. GAIA is promoting cultural diversity and works on education and integration of marginalized and minority groups in society. The main activities of GAIA are coordination of volunteer exchange, organization of non-formal educational programs, cooperation with other local and international organizations, organization of festivals, promotion of volunteering, intercultural understanding and solidarity in the region of Balkans and promotion of freedom of movement and youth mobility. GAIA is an official branch of Service Civil International (SCI), one of the world’s largest international volunteering organisations dedicated to promoting peace and volunteering.

 

International and local volunteers who support the letter:

  1. Aid Agaj, Kosovo
  2. Aleksandar Yordanov, Bulgaria
  3. Andrijana Vesic, Kosovo
  4. Angela Mojsoska, Macedonia
  5. Ariston Lipa, Kosovo
  6. Bejtullah Sharku, Kosovo
  7. Charly Duhoux, France
  8. Daniel Laurent, France
  9. Dejan Mladenovic, Kosovo
  10. Donjeta Shatri, Kosovo
  11. Dunja Dragun, Croatia
  12. Dunja Karanovic, Serbia
  13. Elio Allmace, Albania
  14. Elodie Riviere, France
  15. Esmeralda Perseku, Albania
  16. Gentrit Behramaj, Kosovo
  17. Goran Stamatoski, Macedonia
  18. Granit Gashi, Kosovo
  19. Helena Obajdin, Croatia
  20. Igor Markovic, Serbia
  21. Irdi Malaj, Albania
  22. Isabelle Wadbled, France
  23. Iva Mengova, Bulgaria
  24. Ivica Stojkov, Macedonia
  25. Izabela Markova, Bulgaria
  26. Jelena Jovcic, Serbia
  27. Jeremy Flauraud, France
  28. Jana Jovasevic, Serbia
  29. Kieran Murphy, United Kingdom
  30. Kristina Topic, Serbia
  31. Lara-Lena Godde, Germany
  32. Liubov Obraztcova, Russia
  33. Madlen Zasheva, Bulgaria
  34. Maja Mlinarec, Croatia
  35. Maria Begona Santaella Gomez, Spain
  36. Marius Leveli, Albania
  37. Marko Zajic, Serbia
  38. Mevlude Skuroshi, Kosovo
  39. Mia Cuk, Serbia
  40. Miroslava Popova, Bulgaria
  41. Nikola Ilic, Kosovo
  42. Nina Brauch, Germany
  43. Petar Blazevski, Serbia
  44. Rosa Hergan, Austria
  45. Silvia Brdar, Croatia
  46. Slavco Tisevski, Macedonia
  47. Slobodan Vasic, Serbia
  48. Sophie Bitsas, Belgium
  49. Stefan Georgiev, Bulgaria
  50. Sugen Reddy, United Kingdom
  51. Suljan Lamaj, Albania
  52. Vaida Saulyte, Lithuania
  53. Vladimir Djordjevic, Serbia
  54. Wiebke Tebbe, Germany
  55. Yana Ivanova, Bulgaria

GAIA is looking for coordinator of a group EVS in Sharr mountain

In summer GAIA is hosting a group of 12 EVS volunteers in Brezovica for a month within the Mountain spirit project and we are a looking for a person to coordinate the group, to work with GAIA’s team on program and content, to take care of logistics and administrative stuff. The group EVS will be focused on documenting biodiversity and nature of Sharr mountain.

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Mountain Spirit is a Strategic EVS project run by several partners from the Balkans and coordinated by Velebit Association Kuterevo from Croatia.

GAIA Kosovo (branch of Service Civil International /SCI/) is one of the organizations which will host short term and long term volunteers interested in nature conservation. From 21st of July until 19th of August, we will host 12 volunteers from different European countries in Brezovica in Sharr Mountains. Description of the volunteering project can be seen here.

Besides group EVS, GAIA is already hosting 4 volunteers and is planning to organize different events related to nature, art, youth and culture within Balkan LyNKS project. More than 40 young enthusiasts and a team of volunteers will be doing research, documentation, art, clean up actions and organization of BREfest 2.0.

At this moment, we are looking for a person who is willing to spend at least month and a half in Brezovica and to coordinate 12 volunteers through EVS project.

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It would be ideally that this person:

  • is involved and active in GAIA or at least took part in some of the activities
  • has basic experience in nature conservation / environmental protection
  • has experience in working with volunteers and international groups of youngsters
  • has good knowledge of English and at least basic knowledge of Albanian or Serbian
  • can work in international team, has good communication skills, sense of initiative and is flexible and open to work in dynamic and challenging situations
  • has solid knowledge about EVS and Erasmus+ program or is willing to learn

Tasks for the Mountain Spirit EVS coordinator in Sharr mountain will be the following:

  • preparation of the infosheet, program and activities
  • regular meetings with the program team, reporting and initiating activities
  • daily coordination of the volunteers
  • providing support to volunteers for realization of activities, organization of free time and travel
  • preparing report (narrative and financial) of the activity after it is realized

We would prefer to engage someone from GAIA, rather than from outside world :), but if you see yourself as someone who could support Sharr program and EVS group, please feel free to apply.

Those who are interested should send their Cover letter and CV to gaia.kosovo@gmail.com before 25th of May 2018. Cover letter should include information on motivation, experience, skills, expectations and similar.

EVS coordiantor will have accommodation covered through the project and honorarium of at least 300 EUR per month (brutto); maximum duration of engagement will be 2 months (July and August), but we are open for different agreements.

For any questions, do not hesitate to ask… (contact Mira Popova at gaia.kosovo@gmail.com)

Call for participants for Young Friends of the Earth Europe (YFoEE) summer camp for young activists in September

Every year Young Friends of the Earth Europe (YFoEE) organizes a summer camp for the young people that have the strong urge to voice their concern for the environment and become activists for a fairer society respecting nature and people. This years camp will be hosted in Cyprus from September 3rd–9th.

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Young FoEE, together with groups from our European network, as well as different social and environmental justice groups, will gather together for seminars, workshops and presentations, dialogue, games and training.

If you’re under 30 and would like to know more about how to become an activist for the environment and society, then apply and join them!

The main topic of this years camp will be on putting intersectionality – recognising and working to dismantle linked forms of oppression such as racism, sexism, transphobia, and ableism – into practice in YFoEE campaigns for social and environmental justice.

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Applications from people who feel under- or un-represented in the environmental movement are extremely encouraged to apply – for example, on the basis of (dis)ability, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, ethnicity, or country of origin.

The summer camp will be in English, but linguistic support can be provided (please specify this in your application). Young FoEE will cover the costs of food and accommodation at the summer camp, and travel to and from it.

Depending on funding YFoEE will be happy to host at least one participant from Kosovo, so don’t hesitate to apply.

More details and the application form here!

Deadline: May 25th

Call for pax: Youth Exchange Mitrovica urban garden

Youth exchange: Mitrovica Urban Garden

Permaculture as a Path to Peace

25th of May – 2nd of June 2018, Mitrovica (Kosovo)

This Spring, in Mitrovica, GAIA and friends will organize a youth exchange about urban permaculture, with the focus on gardening and food production. The Youth Exchange will gather 25 young people from Croatia, Albania, Serbia, Bulgaria and Kosovo, what means that this call is open only for young people who are residents of those countries (we are sorry for those who are not) and applying through organizations which are partners for this exchange: PVN Albania, VCV Serbia, VUK Croatia, CVS Bulgaria and GAIA Kosovo. It will take place from 25th of May until 2nd of June 2018 and will be organized in partnership with Down Syndrome Kosova in Mitrovica and the City Museum.

Continue reading “Call for pax: Youth Exchange Mitrovica urban garden”