BREfest! Sharr is more than snow

Festival in Brezovica ski resort brings people together to celebrate Sharr Mountain nature and culture

From 11th to 13th August local people, guests from around Kosovo and neighboring countries are gathering in ski center Brezovica for music and nature festival BREfest. The event is free of charge, voluntarily organized and based on guests’ participation in activities. It aims to bringing attention to the beauty of Sharr Mountain, to raise awareness on environmental topics and to provide space for people who love the mountain; to share their vision for its future. The message of the festival is “Sharr is more than snow” emphasizing the unique, natural and cultural values of the mountain besides the attractive skiing slopes.

The program during the day will offer diverse activities for children, youngsters, elders and families. The evening will be a celebration of nature friendly music and cinema. Jimmy Mustafa band is opening the festival musical progamme on Friday. The band consists of 4 young and talented Roma musicians who create music based on Roma tradition and contemporary sounds and genres. On Saturday the mountain will be vibrating in a jazz wave thanks to the rich sound of Trio Biber. The last day will be all about exchanging music and culture between locals and volunteers from around the world.

Throughout the 3-day-event, multiple workshops such as capoeira, vegan cusine, RecycleArt, DIY (do it yourself) activities will take place. Guests will have the possibility to learn about medicinal herbs, wildlife and the mountain through guided educational tours. Everyday of the festival has its own topic which will be presented by an exhibition and discussion. The first day is dedicated to the environmental realities and the alternatives for a just world. Saturday is all about migration of people throughout centuries and continents creating a link between the historical cross-border region of Sharr mountain with current migration issues. Last day is dedicated to the nature and culture of Sharr – sharing positive stories, challenging threats, exchanging and creating a vision. More about the programme, accommodation, transport you can find out here.

BREfest is promoting a different approach of appreciating nature by making us think about our own impact on the environment. The organizers from GAIA are inviting guests to bring their own cup (and camping food equipment if possible) in order to avoid the use of plastic and to reduce the amount of waste. Share and exchange is another festival principal which is valid for sharing transport to the ski resort but also for exchanging skills, home-made products and stuff between people.

The organization of the festival is supported by:

  • 25 International and local volunteers from 13 countries
  • 20 international participants of the Tour of Freedom, which are traveling by bikes from the north of Kosovo to Brezovica
  • Roma children from Imaginatorium – alternative educational center in Gracanica
  • And everybody else who is interested

CONTACTS

GAIA Kosovo, brefest2017@gmail.com, http://www.gaiakosovo.org
Phone number: +386 49 386 709; +386 49 819 573

Enregistrer

Enregistrer

New EVS team

Once upon a time, a bear refuge in the far away mountain village Kuterevo was formed. It started small, one bear at the time, but now it is a place with a family of nine scarily cute beasts, Ivan and around 300 volunteers a year. Some of these people are here every year, some are here for the first time. We, the EVS team, are here for the very first time and this is our story up until now.

But, before we start, we would like to introduce you to the term EVS. EVS or European Voluntary Service is project funded by the European Union, through Erasmus + program and organized together with the National Agency of Croatia with partnership of the Erasmus+ Programme countries and Neighboring Partner countries. Our stay in Kuterevo lasts for two months, but in general one EVS project can last from two weeks to 12 months. Right now, for the Kuterevo EVS project present are people from the following countries: Anja from Slovenia, Aleksandra and Maja from Serbia, Laura from Lithuania, Marting from France, Teodor from Bulgaria, Allem and Asmir from Kosovo, Ivan from Bosnia, Luke from the UK and Marios from Cypros. And our days here looked something like this:

The first few days of our arrival we were met by tasks like chopping wood for the winter and for cooking on the stove, cleaning up the house were other volunteers were supposed to sleep and cutting branches and clearing up bushes, so we could prevent and protect ourselves and visitors from snakes, or more likely to protect the snakes from us 🙂

But then, we had a week long Camp Leadership training where we covered topics such as volunteering, group dynamics, intercultural learning, different leadership/coordination styles, conflict management, peace in work camps, and eco-leadership, all that in the companion of 10 other people from different countries and cultures.

After taking this short break we were back on track with our hardworking selves. The bears needed some help, so they asked us if we can help them. Mostly, they asked for:

  • Food: a lot of fruits and veggies, grass, grains, seeds, ice-cream (actually huge ice-cubes filled with fruit and seeds, great for cooling off and hydration!), and meat (but only once or twice a month, because as they put it – they are only 10% carnivores and 90% vegetarians)
  • Water for their pools, a lot of water, so they could cool themselves on the very hot days
  • Tree branches, so they could play with them, especially when we throw seeds in them, so they can mush around trying to find them
  • Clean area around their enclosure, so the visitors could enjoy clear view

Besides being the bear’s little helpers, we also fixed the geese house, even though they don’t really like us, we take care of all the other animals we have in the refuge, making sure that they are fed, happy, safe and sound all the time. We have to make sure that we are doing a good job in maintaining the facilities we have and to coordinate all the work camps and scouts groups that come and go all the time. And our artists in the group are also responsible for painting and decorating the souvenirs for our respected visitors, as a way of self-financing the refuge.

Other big thing that our EVS team is responsible of is guiding visitors, who come to this refuge more and more, day by day, year by year. And for that reason, it was really important for us to learn as much as we can about bears in general, their biology, mythology and lifestyle, but also to gather as many information we can for our bears. By now, we know so many things about bears, we sometimes talk only about them when we call our family back home.

Alongside this, we found time to be part of the local festivals and holidays, Barkanijada, Karmenica and Eko Etno Fest Otočac. Working on a different field than the Kuterevo refuge was a breath of fresh air that we all appreciated, even though we wouldn’t replace it for anything in the world.

And probably the most interesting thing for us was the information that we can use our creativity for a personal project, that would still contribute to the refuge. Until now, three of our boys, Allem from Kosovo, Ivan from Bosnia and Teodor from Bulgaria made trashbins, enough to cover the whole territory of the refuge. Anja from Slovenia is repairing our Herb garden, and at the brim of it being finished, we can assure you that it looks awesome! Our French man Martin, and the Serbian girl Maja, and our Anja are all together in reviving our German Garden, trying to put some order in it, so we don’t actually eat plain weed as a salad :D! The British Luke and the Serbian Aleksandra are at the beginning of their personal projects, so we will fill you in about them in our next post, but for now it’s a surprise! Psst!

But, in general, even though we are a bit unorganized and sometime we have no idea what is happening around us, we are really content and happy with our stay here and we can’t believe that we only have two more weeks left. Time passes quickly, especially if you are surrounded by people that have become your family during this month and a half.

So, for that cause, we would like to thank all the individual volunteers that came in Kuterevo, so thank you Tadej, Pierre, Gaelle, Lili, Mathias, Thalia, Matheu, Martyna, Lois, Aurelien, and all the others that came for a day or two. Thank you to all the scouts, Pihos 42e Floral, Pionniers of Lamberont, Pionniers du Precieux-Sang 69, Caravelles and Les Compact. Thank you work camps, thank you Alex Club, thank you Red Cross Germany. Thank you for making our stay here precious and memorable, thank you for all the laughs, tears, joy, clumsy stories, nights spent by the bonfire!

And we will give ourselves the right to keep the “..And they lived happily ever after. The End” for our goodbye post. For now, we will stick to “Talk to you soon! Vidimo se uskoro! До скоро! Je te parle plus tard! Τα λεμε συντομα! Iki pasimatymo! Се виждаме скоро!”

Bear hugs,

The EVS team

Written by:

Tamara Gjuroska

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 🙂