Stefan’s impressions and highlights about his experience in Sharr before and after BREfest.
As an EVS volunteer I got to know about some of the problems that endanger the wellbeing of Sharr Mountain. Our group consisted of 12 volunteers from different countries – Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Spain, Scotland, France, Belgium, Lithuania, Russia. We gathered in the mountain to learn about the area’s biodiversity and to raise awareness of the neccessity of deminishing the damage that had already been done. The ski resort is a very busy place during the winter. Several thousands of people come here to enjoy winter sports every season. Wherever there are people, however, there is trash. The vast majority of these people are not aware (or choosing to turn the blind eye) of the littering problem in the mountain when the snow covers up the industrial and domestice waste resting on the ground. This problem can be easily seen during other times of the year, when the snow has melted away and slowely reveals landfills of garbage. There is a specific place in the ski resort, which we call the trash hill – a trash landslide, that is covered entirely by thick layers of trash from previous years. During a clean-up action we tried to deal with this issue but we simply did not manage to gather all of it. (The EVS and other international participants came up with an open letter addressed to the responsible institutions regarding the situation though. The letter you can read here)
There were numerous highlights of our stay. After the cleaning-up action, we started preparing for the BREfest 2.0., a fairly recent festival that was first initated in 2017. The event combines arts and nature, an aspect that I loved. As volunteers we had our own corner in which we prepared different activities. For example, I had made musical instruments out of trash. The idea was to promote the idea that garbage can be used again and that we should first look for something we can use and then consider it as useless (or buy everytime new items).
The participants from the Youth Gathering for Sharr or RYCO (Regional Youth Cooperation Office) group, as we called them, came from all over the Balkans and had their corner as well. There were others such as permaculture, herbal station that aimed at redirecting the focus on lifestyles that are closely connected to the natural environment.
The whole festival lasts for three days. During these three days we enjoyed each other’s company while actively contributing to Sharr’s well being. Central to the EVS corner, however, was that there were many musical instruments, of which many were made out of recycled trash. For this reason, we often gathered and played together no matter from what corner of the world one was coming from. Sometimes we would play certain songs and share stories about its origins. On other times, we would just jam and sing, creating beautiful new vibes that bridged any political, sociol or cultural borders.
The whole experience was amazing and we shared many great moments which will be remembered. For once, we created life-long friendships and learned about volunteering experiences in the Western Balkans. I could continue writing about my stay in Kosovo but I fear that this text will be transfromed into a book and not an article. Overvall, I will never forget this magical place called Sharr mountain.