Youth for nature, volunteering and inclusion

The project Youth for nature, volunteering & inclusion is, actually, follow up idea from Mountains connecting people project which was initially consisted of 3 youth exchanges in mountains in Kuterevo, Bulgaria and Kosovo, but continued to generate more youth projects afterwards.

While organizing those youth exchanges, we realized that they bring great potential, ideas and energy to local communities and that we should include long-term strategic approach which will integrate other youth and voluntary activities into local programs for nature conservation. The concept is mainly focused on SCI approach and methods, but we are not limited with that, and we want to explore other methods and ways of thinking and planning.

Velebit assocation Kuterevo became again partner for this new project and sent participants to the different activities:

The first activity within the project was Training Course on Qualitative volunatary programs in rural and remote areas, which took place in Peja, town surrounded by the Coursed Mountains.

In general, the training course was focused on 3 main topics:

  • nature conservation
  • history, sectors, stakeholders and challenges
  • grass-root youth and voluntary programs in nature conservation, with focus on Erasmus+

Second activity was the Youth Exchange (YE), which took place in Brezovica , National Park Sharr, situated on the south of Kosovo, from 15th till 26th of August 2016. Partner organizations were VCV Serbia, SCI Hellas, CID Macedonia, CVS Bulgaria, VUK Croatia, GAIA Kosovo and in total we had 30 participants who:

…learnt and shared knowledge about nature conservation

…explored the meaning and practise of coexistence with nature in rural areas,

… explored biodiversity of Sharr mountain and benefits of cultural and natural diversity

… visited inspiring and protected natural and cultural places such as Visoki Decani Monastery, Sinan Pasha Mosque, Prizren and Peja

… learnt about and from wilderness (herbs, other pants, animals, relations, fungi, human impact etc.)

…reflect on our role in this world (lifestyle, activism, ignorance…)

…and reacetd on it by: clean up action, murals, building up a compost place and benches and creation of a video about the mountain.

Partnership Building Activity (PBA) took place in Banja e Pejes from 25th of November till 5th of December 2016.

PBA gathered 32 representatives of 19 organizations which are involved in volunteering and youth programs for nature, but also those who are more focused on other topics, such as refugee work, inclusion and so forth.

The aim of the PBA was to provide space for developing new and strengthening existing strategic partnerships for nature protection projects through youth and voluntary work, to give opportunity to the participants to share good and bad practices in their work on the topics, to give an overview and details on the possibilities of the Erasmus+ programme. In addition to that, the aim was to improve and deepen participants skills in stakeholder analysis, inclusion and strategic and systems thinking.

More information about the project and results are available HERE.

this project is supported by Erasmus+ program of the European Union

 

Moving Feet Opening Minds project

Last year, Velebit association Kuterevo got the chance to start a new partnership with an organisation from the UK, Everything is possible, which was searching for host organisations for Askham Bryan College students in animal management.

We agreed to be part of their project Moving Feet Opening Minds, which is an international Vocational Educational Training (VET) funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union. This project gathers several international partners and offers learners from the UK the opportunity to take part in a unique experience abroad and gain confidence, life and work skills (methodology and tools), but also develop wider horizons and open their minds to new opportunities.

In October, Glorija and Annamaria, volunteers from Kuterevo and professor Vedran from the University of gamekeeping and environmental protection participated in the start-up seminar in the UK, met our new partners and partners who corporating with Everything is Possible for many years, to hear how they are doing that and how much students helping them, and also discus about time and activities for 2017.

It was decided that Velebit association Kuterevo will host students and their tutors this summer, as volunteers for Kuterevo Bear Refuge. We are expecting a group to join us for 2 weeks and half in mid-summer, to support us in our building activities (we always need to improve facilities for the animals) and help with refuge daily activities.

Their stay in Kuterevo will also be the opportunity to share and learn from each other. We will organised educational sessions for the UK students and other local and international volunteers present at that time.
We are very excited to host these new volunteers and introduce them to the bear refuge and Kuterevo village and lifestyle, but also very curious to meet them and eager to learn from their different experiences in animal care.
We hope that this new experience will be a great learning opportunity for all of us, and that is will bring new energy to speak about/for bears 🙂

Annamaria, Kuterevo volunteers’ station

Speak for the bears – 2 month long EVS in Kuterevo refuge

Velebit Association Kuterevo from Croatia is looking for  12 volunteers, between 17 and 30 years of age, coming from ERASMUS+ programme countries and partner countries from the Western Balkans, who are willing to join Kuterevo Bear Refuge, and “Speak for the bears”, as a part of an EVS project (European Voluntary Service), for 2 months, during summer 2017, from  15th of June till 15th of August.

The EVS volunteers group will be an important part of a big volunteers family, since there will be a few other volunteering programs (workcamps and scouts) undergoing in Kuterevo at the same period. Some of the main tasks that will be expected of EVS volunteers to fulfil include:

  • being Bear’s advocates / messangers who will spread the story of the bears in the refugee and bears in the wild
  • welcoming and informing visitors, including groups
  • support coordination of other voluntary groups (scouts and international SCI workcamps)

Apart from the primary tasks, volunteers will also support the refuge and Volunteers’ Station in some of the following activities:

  • construction work: digging and building new enclosures for animals
  • maintaining existing facilities
  • gardening and collecting food for the bears
  • prepare program and exhibitions for village feasts
  • documenting events and life in the village as well as cultural and natural heritage

The volunteers are expected to learn in non formal and experiential way:

  • basic Croatian
  • how to coordinate intenrational groups of youngsters (training will be provided)
  • sustainable and simple living in an international community of volunteers
  • about bear biology, ecology, mythology, conservation aspects
  • about deep interconnectedness among all living beings and role of bears in the web of life
  • living with limited Internet connectivity and in connection with nature
  • living with other people with very diverse backgrounds
  • how to deal with problems and solutions

Living conditions:

  • volunteers will be accommodated in the houses of local families, in the rooms shared with other volunteers,, but sometimes it will be needed to stay in a forest camp;
  • food (vegetarian, local, seasonal) will be prepared together with other volunteers in the Volunteers’ Station
  • food, accommodation, travel costs, insurance and pocket money covered through EVS program

Expectations from volunteers:

  • It is more than welcome, but not obligatory, that the volunteer has some previous experience in coordination of groups or workcamps and different types of outdoor work and activities.
  • volunteers should be ready for simple and communal way of living with dozen of other volunteers, interested in nature/bear conservation and coexistence with wilderness.
  • volunteers should be ready for a very intensive summer,
  • should be able to take over responsibilities and tasks agreed on and is flexible towards needs and priorities of the project,
  • should have a Sending organization with valid EVS accreditation.

For more information about volunteering in Kutervo and previous EVS projects, you can check volunteers’ blog kuterevo.wordpress.com.

If you are interested in spending 2 months in Kuterevo Refuge for bears and people send us your CV and motivation letter by 15th of January 2017 to kuterevo.evs@gmail.com. Motivation letter should answer the following questions:

  • why Kuterevo?
  • what do you expect to learn, to experience, to change?
  • what is your previous experience with nature?
  • why should we choose you?

We are looking forward to your applications!

Kuterevo bears & people

Partnership building activity – Youth for nature, volunteering and inclusion

CALL FOR PARTICIPANTS
PARTNERSHIP BUILDING ACTIVITY
PEJA, KOSOVO

from 26th of November till 5th of December 2016
“Youth for nature, volunteering and inclusion”

GAIA Kosovo is organizing a networking activity for partnership building between organizations, volunteers, youth workers and activists, focused on voluntary and youth projects in nature protection. The partnership building activity (PBA) will take place in Banja e Pejes, situated close to the town of Peja, in western part of Kosovo and surrounded with the beautiful and wild Rugova Mountains.

The meeting will focus on 3 main topics:

  • nature conservation in theory and practice
  • strategic planning in youth and voluntary programs in nature conservation
  • project cycle management in nature conservation

The aims of the PBA are:

  • To create space for developing new and strengthening existing strategic partnerships for nature protection projects through youth and voluntary work
  • To give opportunity to the participants to share good and bad practices in their work on the topics
  • To give an overview and details on the possibilities of the Erasmus+ programme
  • To serve as a place for setting up future projects and initiatives between the participants.

During this training course, we will learn, experience and discuss some of the following topics:

  • SCI & nature conservation / climate for peace program
  • different youth & volunteering programs in nature conservation
  • opportunities and role of youth organization for working in nature conservation
  • good and bad practises in nature conservation strategies
  • stakeholders in nature conservation
  • defining needs in nature conservation and initiating programs/projects
  • social inclusion and nature conservation
  • project cycle management in nature conservation
  • developing pilot programs (i.e.NP Sharr)
  • Erasmus+ and other programmes

We are looking for 28 participants from 19 different countries, interested in the topic, willing to create strategic partnerships and long-term projects for nature conservation, and interested in reconnection with people and nature. Advantage will be given to activists, volunteers and staff of SCI branches and partners of the project.

Suitable participants could be:

  • Project coordinators
  • Decision makers in the organizations
  • Activists and volunteers with some experience in the field of nature protection, voluntary and youth work
  • People aware of the strategic plan of their organization
  • Active members of the organizations with long-term project ideas

Velebit association Kuterevo, as a partner organization, is looking for 2 participants to join this activity.

The application form can be found here and should be sent no later than 30th of October!
Selection of participants will be done in the next few days.

Practical aspects
Accommodation and food will be covered through the project. Food will be vegan with vegetarian option, seasonal and domestic as much as possible.

Travel costs will be covered 100 % for participants who come by land, and 60 % to participants who travel by plane (unless really necessary), but we still strongly advise travelling by planet-friendly means of transport.

This partnership building activity is the closing event of the project “Youth for nature, volunteering and inclusion”.

The project included the following activities:

  1. Training Course: Quality volunteering projects for nature conservation in rural areas in Peja, Kosovo 25th of June till 4th of July 2016
  2. Youth Exchange (YE), which will take place in Brezovica, National Park Sharr, situated on the south of Kosovo; partner organizations (VCV Serbia, SCI Hellas, DEM Macedonia, CVS Bulgaria, VUK Croatia, GAIA Kosovo)

Mountains connecting people…

We are looking forward to receiving your applications…

For any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us to kuterevo.volunteers@gmail.com.

Training-Seminar Balkan Myth Busters!!

CALL FOR PARTICIPANTS

TRAINING – SEMINAR

“ CULTURE, MEDIA, RELIGION AND NATIONAL IDENTITY IN YOUTH WORK”

TAVANKUT, SERBIA, from 1st to 10th of November 2016

Volunteers’ Center of Vojvodina is organizing a training­-seminar for 25 youth workers, activists and volunteers who work with young people. The participants from 8 countries will gather for 10 days, to learn, share, challenge, create and change.

The main topics of the training will be:

  • youth exclusion, unemployment and nationalism; individual and collective identities
  • role of institutions in inclusion/exclusion through their impact on young persons’ identity
  • Balkan mythology; Balkan stereotypes and how to use them creatively
  • Inclusion, denationalisation and social cohesion through creativity and art
  • Erasmus+, learning and recognition of non­formal learning
  • Youthpass.

VCV conducted a research in May and June 2016, examining the perception of youth about Myths and it’s influence on their beliefs. The results of the research will be the starting point for the creation of the methods implemented on the training­-seminar, mostly focusing on questioning beliefs, creating critical thinking, and tools for searching for facts instead of taking things for granted. The results of the research will be presented during the training­seminar.

The program will be revised according the needs of participants and common understanding of the group.

The program will be divided in four main parts:

  1. Team building, sharing expectations, experiences, research results and learning about current state of youth unemployment and inclusion and nationalism among youth in all countries;
  2. Learning; Identity and different layers, its formation and influence of different institutions on it (medial, culture and religion);
  3. Getting deeper into Balkan’s culture, mythology, religions and stereotypes, introduction to backcasting strategic approach
  4. Creation of new tools and methods for youth work on the topic of nationalism and identity, linked with diversity and inclusion through creativity and art; based on previous sessions and learning outcomes;

We will invite experts to share their experience and knowledge regarding roles of media, religion and culture (art) on nationalism and identity formation.

The training-seminar will gather 25 participants from Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Greece, Albania, Germany and Serbia, interested in the topic, willing to develop long­term programs for youth, fighting exclusion, nationalism and stereotypes.

Advantage will be given to youth workers and group leaders that are working with minorities, with unemployed young people, or with youth that have fewer opportunities in any way. Also, an advantage would be if the participants are intended to be group leaders on the upcoming youth exchanges.

Velebit Association Kuterevo, as a partner organisation for this project, is searching for 2 participants to join this project!

The application form should be filled and sent to kuterevo.volunteers@gmail.com not later than 16th of October!

Selection of participants will be done by 19th of October!

Practical aspects

  • Accommodation and food will be covered through the project. Food will be vegan with vegetarian option, seasonal and domestic as much as possible.
  • Travel costs will be covered 100% for participants who come by land, and 60% to participants who travel by plane, but we still strongly advise travelling by planet­friendly means of transport.

This training will be followed up with two activities:

  1. Youth Exchange (YE), which will take place in Trstenik, Serbia, from 13.03.2017 to 23.03.2017, with GAIA Kosovo, SCI Germany, CVS Bulgaria, CID Macedonia and SCI Hellas
  2. Youth Exchange in Novo Brdo, Kosovo, from 05.08.2017 to 15.08.2017, again with GAIA Kosovo, SCI Germany, CVS Bulgaria, CID Macedonia and SCI Hellas

We are looking forward to receiving your applications

Kuterevo team 🙂

Goodbye EVS team!

One month of EVS in Kuterevo has gone so fast!

It’s now time to go home for all of us, and we’ll just share some of our best moments with some pictures 🙂

This project, gathering 11 volunteers from 5 different countries, was financed by Erasmus+.

EVS team – What is our purpose?

Apart from enjoying the beautiful natural sights of Kuterevo village and surrounding mid-Velebit area, with the landscapes so unrealistic that they look like heavily retouched photos used for bragging on Instagram, and breathing in the air of such good quality, that those of us who are smokers feel a bit ashamed for contaminating it, we actually have a few activities that are the main purpose of us being selected to come here.IMG_1515

Taking care of bears

Cute, furry, adorable, and over 100 kilograms each, bears like all the wild beasts when being put in enclosures like this, demand daily care and observation. Our tasks concerning the bears in the most direct manner are the following:

  • Collecting herbs and feeding it to the bears
  • Keeping the area around enclosures clean  
  • Monitoring and keeping track of the bears’ behaviour (especially Mirna, who came from Split Zoo last Spring)
  • Repairing fences and building new enclosures
  • Reading and learning about the bears, and from the bears

feeding bears

Guiding the visitors

One of the biggest demands and pressures that is put on any refuge is adequately dealing with visitors, who are arriving daily and in bigger numbers year after year, even though there are no promotional activities, nor the refuge was ever meant to be a typical tourist attraction. Besides three lovely local girls, Annamaria, Barbara, and Glorija, who are supporting refuge by welcoming and guiding visitors, the tour guide job is one of the most important tasks for EVS (European Voluntary Service) team to handle. That is why we need to learn fast and use the most of our narrative and foreign language skills, to be able to answer the various questions asked by visitors from all over the world and to give our best so they will understand the place and its values and ideas.honey pour

Permaculture gardening

The garden arranged and maintained by the principles of permaculture is another part of the Kuterevo Bear refuge. We use it to produce food for the needs of volunteers (and bears), so a pretty big span of vegetables and some fruits are being grown here, as tomatoes, potatoes, corn, beans, pumpkins, kale, broccoli, raspberries, strawberries All of it tastes delicious and is incomparable to the veggies that can be bought in city supermarkets.gardening2

Souvenir making

One of the ways of achieving self-financing of the refuge is with donations from visitors. For their support, visitors can get small souvenirs made by local craftsmen and women, or by volunteers. Sometimes, we just paint small wooden necklaces and key chains, but sometimes we carve in wood or create ornaments using the pyrography technique to create real art pieces to some extent. It is the way we express ourselves and add a personal touch to every piece of souvenir. Also, there is a lot of items produced by the locals and thus visitors of the refuge also support local lifestyle and traditions.Petra

Most importantly, whatever we do, we try to do it together, and function as a well -organised team. We divide our tasks weekly and daily, but also try to be flexible, hop in and help where we are needed the most at the exact moment. That kind of a lifestyle is typical for our host village and the surrounding areas, and it was through centuries and possibly still is the only way to make living. Whenever in labour, people here strongly rely on the help of their neighbors, and they are pretty much synchronized when it comes to choosing what kind of work are they gonna do. If the task is, for example, preparing wood for heating during the winter time, the whole village will do it simultaneously, moving from house to house, until everyone is set. Almost entirely opposite of the imposed lifestyle today, where individualism is strongly encouraged. Observing it, and being part of it, is definitely adding some extra values to our life experience. It is upon us how and where, are we gonna used in our future lives.

Written by Ilija Nanić

Photographs:Petra Lesjak, Ilija Nanić, Milica Knežević