As the last day of the youth exchange Permaculture as a path to peace is coming to an end I finally caught a break to stop and reflect on what we’ve actually lived through this past 8 days.
My name is Karla, I come from Croatia, and together with 24 other beautiful young people from Kosovo, Albania, Serbia, Bulgaria and Croatia I was living in our very own personal temporary universe of all day learning about permaculture, Kosovo and people in general in the Down Syndrome Kosovo (DSK) house situated in the centre of Mitrovica.
Since the basis of permaculture is using resources sparingly and resourcefully I have to admit that I was even glad that on day 1 we realized our shower was not working properly, forcing us to experience bucket showers and to consume much less water. And you know what, it was not bad at all! 😊 So was the case with my room in which there was 11 girls sleeping in on mattresses – I almost forgot about it because the group proved to be really easy to live with. We wrote our living agreements, our cleaning schedule and people were even chipping in to clean when it was not their turn. And someone always cooked some coffee!
From shy strangers to warm friends, we were slowly getting to know each other in games, discussions and breaks. There was the unfortunate language barrier stopping some of the participants from the full experience. I was happy to see that we all saw it as an issue we need to deal with and put common effort into making this youth exchange more inclusive.
We learnt about the permaculture ethics and principles and familiarized each other about the ecological and social problems of our countries and great initiatives that are made as responses. We talked about our personal gardening attempts (and failures) and ideas to revive communities. We empowered one another with new knowledge, tools, skills and perspectives. And in the end we made are first permaculture designs and then implemented it in the garden of the DSK.
Besides the construction of my first super cool palette/vertical garden compost, the moments that will stay with me the longest will be our visit to the Bajgora mountain, incredibly abundant with beautiful flora and sadly lots of trash. The eerie and magical remains of once gloriously powerful and today struggling on the margins Trepča mine. And seeing some Kosovar participants that have been living in Mitrovica for years crossing to the north side for the first time. Seeing them scared and surprised, I was happy to have been with them in this moment and to be in this young country full of war wounds but doing its best to recover.
Thank you so much GAIA Kosovo for all the great work you are doing and for allowing me to be a part of this youth exchange. I leave Kosovo more determined in my purpose of working to spread permaculture and bring back humanity to nature and to one another.