Meeting the Kuterevo Spirit

All of my worries, problems and rushing thoughts started to melt away as the bus was climbing up into Velebit mountain, passing through the clouds (yes, bus, not a plane), with a sudden drop of temperature that gave me chills. Although I was completely unrested and sleepy, I was struggling to keep my eyes wide open, so I could catch as much of the beautiful Karst landscape , patiently carved by river Gacka as I could. The dominance of Nature power over the man made objects was completely undoubtable. Compared to Dinaric mountains, all the megalomaniac architectural “wonders” of mankind seem like a child’s play. My daydreaming was interrupted by a phone call from our EVS coordinator, Guacimara, who talked to me in a surprisingly good Croatian language, even though her native language is Spanish. She called to inform me that I will have to wait few hours in Otočac, where I will meet two other volunteers, and then we all will be picked up by someone from Kuterevo.

The bus arrived to Otočac, and, I decided to spend my free time sightseeing (and taking a nap in a park) around this cute little city. Previously mentioned power of nature was strongly present and respected here as well. The whole city was patiently placed in a valley, surrounded by the mountains that look like they could swallow the city, just if they felt like it.

I had a prejudice that people who are coming to work in Kuterevo Bear refuge must be a little bit “crazy”, or just different, taken from the perspective of a common, modern society. And my prejudice was not far from the truth: Dejvi from Catalonia, and Irene from Spain had that “special vibe”, so it wasn’t that hard to recognize them among all the other people who came out of the bus. Those two cuties were the two EVS volunteers that I was waiting for, I guessed it from a first try. And talking about that “special vibe”, there are no words that could describe the next person entering our lives, few minutes later. The old dude approaching us, putting his hands in a gesture as he is taking picture of us with non existing camera, speaking in riddles, with the wisdom falling out of the pockets of his pullover. It was Ivan, the “pappa smurf”, one of the founders of Kuterevo Bear sanctuary. The ride from Otočac to Kuterevo was completely overwhelming. It was a struggle between enjoying the breathtaking view, and listening to Ivan’s stories and jokes”

We made one short stop for a welcoming rakija shot, and in a brief moment we found ourselves in the Kuterevo village. Apart from the fact that there are a lot of signs with drawn bears, and things named after bears (e.g. “Medo Bar”), Kuterevo seems like a typical mountain village of this area; Not overly exploited by tourism, even though the potential for making significant profit out of incoming tourists is not in doubt, it seems like here in Kuterevo they found a perfect balance between opening themselves to the world, and keeping the area as wild and original as it is.

As soon as we came to Postaja (the central station of Bear sanctuary), more of the people carrying that “special vibe” started appearing. Joela from Germany and Tea and Marketa, from Czech republic, were collecting grass for the bear’s dinner, and even though it can be hard and boring kind of work, they were doing it with ease and passion. So impatient to see the bears, we needed to wait a little bit more, because the young ones, who are situated closest to Postaja were hiding themselves from the Sun and high temperature. We used that time to get to know each other playing some team building games in wonderful environment around the Postaja.

During the game session few stars showed their brightness. Firstly, Tamara, from Macedonia, broke all the layers of ice with her charisma and energy, than two silent and humble slovenian girls, Sabina and Petra dominated the small competition we made among ourselves, while Alper from Turkey put the right jokes at the right place. With a little bit more of unconditional good mood brought by Juan from Catalonia, filled with constant laughter from Basque Ilaskina and Laura from Spain, so needed manpower from Viktor from Macedonia, and little bit more of a girl power, spiced up with a little sarcasm from Milica and Ivana, from Serbia, we started feeling like a team ready to answer to all the challenges that will be put on our one month long path.

Finishing our team building games just in time of feeding of the bears transformed the atmosphere from euphoric laughter filled rhapsody, to completely silent more than one hour long meditation, while observing three youngest bears, Mlada Gora, Mladi Dol, and the star of the refuge, Marko Kralj carelessly playing and eating their dinner at the same time. That “strange vibe” started kicking in again, but this time i knew how to explain it. That vibe is called “Kuterevo Spirit”, and it is what makes us feel that we are just in the right place to be. It is what makes us feel needed and useful. It is the reason why we smile and even laugh out loud every now and then. And it is just a beginning.

Written by Ilija Nanić, Kuterevo Bear Refuge ,August 2016.
Photo credits: Milica Knežević, Sabina Šajher

 

 

 

Ilija, Tamara, Viktor, Ivana, Milica, Alper, Petra, Sabina, Juan, Irene and Deyvi are participating in an short-term EVS project in Kuterevo. They will volunteer with Velebit Association Kuterevo for 1 month thanks to the Erasmus+ program.

Razmjena mladih: Priroda nas ponovno povezuje

PRIRODA ZOVE

Razmjena mladih: Priroda nas PONOVNO povezuje

Kuterevo, Utočište za medvjede i ljude, od 01. do 11.08.2016.

Priroda zove 24 mladih ljudi iz Hrvatske, Srbije, Kosova i Bosne i Hercegovine (po 6 osoba iz svake zemlje), koji su zainteresirani za desetodnevnu razmjenu mladih koja će se održavati u Kuterevu, selu na sjeveroistočnim obroncima planine Velebit.

Glavna ideja ove razmjene mladih je ponovno povezivanje s prirodom u nama i oko nas. Kuterevsko utočiše je odlično mjesto za ponovno uspostavljanje veze između ljudi i prirode jer nam medvjedi mogu pomoći povezati se s prirodom. U isto vrijeme, pokušavamo raditi na prekidanju prakse socijalne otuđenosti i nepovezanosti, i želimo potaknuti jedni druge na izgradnju drugačijeg svijeta.

Tijekom ovog susreta ćemo…

… istraživati značenje i praksu suživota prirode i ruralnog područja,

… upoznavati lokalnu zajednicu, njihove običaje, tradiciju i način života, te život u skladu s godišnjim dobima,

… učiti o i od divljine (orijentacija, jestive i ljekovite biljke, tragovi…),

… otkrivati plemenske običaje i glazbu prirode,

… produbljivati svijest o bogatstvu i različitosti života oko nas,

… baviti se ekološkom dimenzijom svog vlastitog identiteta

… uživati, zabavljati se i još ponešto 🙂

Program će biti raznolik i intenzivan jer ćemo imati radionice od jutra do popodnevnih sati, a uz to i večernje aktivnosti.

ŠTO JE RAZMJENA MLADIH

Razmjena mladih je dio projekta Erazmus+ Programa, koji okuplja grupe mladih ljudi iz dvije ili više zemalja i omogućuje im razmjenu mišljenja i diskusije na razne teme, uz koje uče o zemljama drugih sudionika, njihovim stanovnicima i kulturama. Razmjene mladih mladim ljudima daju priliku postati aktivni sudionici, kreativni i kritični, omogućavaju im da nešto nauče jedni od drugih, da nauče nešto novo o sebi i sami sebi postave izazove, da pogriješe i nauče nešto iz tih grešaka, da iskuse raznolikost u malom…

LOKACIJA I UVJETI

Kuterevo je malo selo s otprilike 550 stanovnika na Velebitu. Udaljeno je 30 km od Senja, prekrasnog gradića na morskoj obali, 60 km od Nacionalnog parka Plitvička jezera i samo 10 km od Nacionalnog parka Sjeverni Velebit. Kuterevo se proteže u dolini dugoj 6 km.

Grupa će biti smještena u drvenoj kući koja se nalazi u Utočištu za medvjede i ljude. Nekada je to bio sjenik a danas se koristi za smještaj grupa. Postoje samo dva veća prostora za spavanje i nema mjesta za privatnost. Kuha se zajednički uz pomoć jedne Kuterevke. Svi obroci biti će veganski uz pokoju vegetarijansku opciju.

UVJETI ZA SUDIONIKE

Svaka od partnerskih organizacija izabrat će 6 sudionika, od kojih će jedan biti vođa grupe. Prethodno iskustvo na internacionalnim aktivnostima mladih (razmjene, seminar, radni kampovi…) nisu obavezni niti nose prednost. Ovdje su navedene neke od točaka koje će se uzimati u obzir pri odabiru:

  • Zanimanje za teme i voljnost pripremiti se za njih prije same razmjene
  • Voljnost isključiti se virtualno a uključiti prirodno
  • Spremnost živjeti samoodrživo u internacionalnoj zajednici, u udaljenom mjestu, na period od 10 dana
  • Biti spreman aktivno sudjelovati i pridonijeti radu skupine
  • Imati između 18 i 30 godina (moguće su iznimke za osobe mlađe od 18 godina)

PRAKTIČNI UVJETI ZA SUDIONIKE

  • Smještaj i hrana su organizirani, također i grupni izleti tijekom programa
  • Putni troškovi (isključivo ekološki prihvatljivim prijevoznim sredstvima) bit će refundirani nakon što organizatoru budu predane SVE ORIGINALNE putne karte.
  • Internet neće biti dostupan, osim u hitnom (zaista hitnom i važnom) slučaju, pa ako trebate pisati diplomski rad ili ne možete preživjeti bez Facebooka, molimo vas da se prijavite neki drugi put.

Ova je razmjena dio projekta Priroda nas (ponovno) povezuje, čiji je prvi dio već održan an Šar planini (Kosovo) u studenome prošle godine. Više informacija o ovoj i drugim razmjenama koje su organizirane uz podršku Erasmus+ mogu se pronaći na našem blogu mountainsconnectingpeople.wordpress.com

Ako ste zainteresirani za sudjelovanje na razmjeni mladih Priroda nas (ponovno) povezuje, pošaljite svoje prijave na kuterevo.volunteers@gmail.com do 08.07.2016.

Prijavni formular

Kontakti partnera:

Srbija: Volonterski Centar Vojvodine (office@volontiraj.rs)

Bosna i Hercegovina: Terra Dinarica (terradinarica@gmail.com)

Kosovo: GAIA SCI Kosovo (gaia.kosovo@gmail.com)

Call for participants – Youth Exchange in Sharr Mountain (Kosovo)

From 15th till 26th of August this year,

30 young people coming from Croatia, Serbia, Kosovo, Greece, Macedonia and Bulgaria, will gather in the magical mountain of Sharr in the south of Kosovo

During these 10 days, we will:
…learn and share about nature conservation
…explore the meaning and practise of coexistence with nature in rural areas,
…get to know the local community, customs, tradition and lifestyle, and living with seasons,
… explore biodiversity of Sharr mountain and benefits of cultural and natural diversity
… visit inspiring and protected natural and cultural places (monasteries, mosques, roman sites)
… learn about and from wilderness (herbs, other pants, animals, relations, fungi, human impact etc.)
…reflect on our role in this world (lifestyle, activism, ignorance…)
… experience living in a big diverse group in the mountains,
…enjoy, have fun and much more

PROGRAM & LIFESTYLE

Program will be diverse, intensive and very much up to participants and we will be having sessions in the morning and afternoon, but also evening activities.

Frame of the program will be prepared by the group leaders, but participants are expected to contribute with their own ideas, skills, questions, suggestions, games, movies etc.

The main topic of the YE will be wilderness and our relation with it… It will be explored in different ways. At the end, we will work in small groups, which will be organized according to interest and ideas, ideally creating something very concrete for the end (a short video, exhibition, installation, blog…). We are expected to be as sustainable as possible, so food will be vegan with vegetarian option and mostly from local and seasonal products.

LOCATION

The Youth Exchange will take place high in the mountains, in a motel situated in ski resort Brezovica, at 1750m above the sea level.

The village of Brezovica (Municipality of Strpce) is a small, with around 400 inhabitants, and is situated in the north-eastern part of the Sharr Mountains.

Sharr Mountains is oldest National park in Kosovo, and provides habitat for the lynx, bear, chamois, wolf, roe deer, wild boar, vultures and many plant species among which many are endemic and relict.

REQUIREMENTS FOR PARTICIPANTS

Each partner organisation will choose 5 participants, among which one will be a group leader (which can be older than 30). Previous experience in international youth gatherings (exchanges, seminars, workcamps…) is not required nor advantage, but here are several points which will be taken into account:

  • be interested in topics and willing to get prepared before the youth exchange
  • be willing to disconnected virtually, but connected naturally
  • be willing to live sustainably and in an international community in a remote place in the mountains for 10 days
  • be ready for active participation and contribution
  • be in the age between 18 and 30 (few exceptions possible for young people under 18; group leaders can be older than 30)

PRACTICAL CONDITIONS OF PARTICIPATION

  • accommodation and food will be covered through the project
  • travel costs (only environmentally friendly means of transport) will be reimbursed after ALL ORIGINAL tickets are received
  • visa costs will be fully covered
  • internet will not be available, except for urgent (really urgent and important cases), so if you are supposed to write your thesis or cannot survive without Facebook, please do not consider applying 🙂

If you are interested in taking part in this Youth exchange send your application to kuterevo.volunteers@gmail.com before the 5th of July 2016

Application form can be found here.

Spring at Kuterevo 2016

Hey you! Here are the new long term volunteers for 2016 in Kuterevo Bear Refuge! Unfortunately, we all are from France, but we will deal with it.

We are Keyvan, Lucine, and Florian.  Keyvan and Lucine who are Service Civique volunteers send by SCI France came on 18th of April. And Florian who stay here for an intership, came 2 days later.

Keyvan wanted to travel in the Balkan, living in community and in a natural place which he already knows a lot. Lucine can here to have a break with her study and cities, also learn about nature, and of course about bears. Florian is studying agronomy in an engineering school in Dijon (France). He has to do a 5-month internship and decided to come here to discover a new country and a new way to live sustainably.

This year, we are working with a all new organisation since Amelie left kuterevo the last winter. Annamaria is now handling the visitors and coordinating the volunteers while studying. A big challenge which doesn’t afray her. And we will do as much as possible to back her.

Since we arrived, we already met planty of other volunteers, staying from a few days to few months. And because without them nothing would have been possible we want to thanks all of them a lot ! They are Nicola Ivano, Anna, Mathis, YanYan, Jean, Ivana, Siniča, Marko, Aurelie, Magali… And of course our Barbara and Gloria from Kuterevo !

All together, moreover than guiding visitors who are already a lot, we work on giving back his youngness to American House with a new roof and second floor (that means a lot of plancks to move).

 

Few weeks ago Helena from Serbia and Jean an ex french volunteer in Kuterevo decided to bring back all the garden to life, and they did a lot ! Thanks to them we will have more and more vegetables to eat (don’t forget potatoes and cabbage)

Also finishing the place for shetlands poneys, coming from the closing Split zoo, who should arrive soon (that also mean moving a lot of planks).

Then, the grass season came, so we are collecting a lot of it from our neighbour’s fields. It’s a lot of works, but such a pleasure to look at the bears having fun in all this grass.

The workcamp : Into the bear forest 4 took care of Kopija, so the place is ready to welcome any of you and all inhabitants, as fairy and forest spirit (more informations about it in this article).

Of course, for those who love digging more than anything else, there is planty of work on old or news enclosure waiting for you!

For those who speak french , you can find a radio report made by Anna in April here.

Lucine, Keyvan and Florian

INTO THE BEAR FOREST…part 4

Here we are again, at Kopija, with the international group of Friends of the bears 🙂

As usual, we are there to learn from the forest and its incredible and sometimes mystical natural phenomenon. During our stay in the bear forest of Kopija, the place in Velebit where Kuterevo, Krasno and Kosinj meet, we will celebrate life and diversity of wilderness and people. Together with the full Moon, we will mark the arrival of Summer and Solstice. Moreover, we will be improving the camp site and the path (also known as Brussels road) which has been built by many volunteers in the past years…

Finally, after our workcamp, this place will be open for visitors of the Refuge, for those who would like to experience the forest in which bears are at home. These forests are precious, they are complex systems in which many living and non-living beings exist together and thus present our common heritage which we should preserve, but also understand and embrace.

At the beginning, we would like to share about basic survivals shelters and fire in the forest. Kuterevo friend of the bears, Rudi Oškera, whose roots from mother’s side are connected to Kuterevo, came back to Kopija to share a bit of his knowledge about shelters and fire.

Altogether, we learned by doing who to build A-format and lean-on shelter, with the heart reflector.  And here you can see how it was…

… beginning of the workcamp

…A-format shelter

…lean-on shelter

..and firecraft

to be continued…

Quality volunteering projects for nature conservation in rural areas – Call for participants

CALL FOR PARTICIPANTS

TRAINING COURSE

PEJA, KOSOVO from 25th of June till 3rd of July 2016

“Quality volunteering projects for nature conservation in rural areas”

GAIA Kosovo & WWF Adria are organizing 9-day training course for youth workers, volunteers and activists interested in long-term programs for nature conservation, with the focus on voluntary and youth projects in rural and remote areas.

The training course will take place in the town of Peja, situated in western part of Kosovo and surrounded with the beautiful and wild Rugova Mountains.

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The training course will focus on 3 main topics:

  • nature conservation in theory and practise
  • grass-root youth and voluntary programs in nature conservation
  • reconnection with nature through spiritual ecology (awakening senses and ecological self)

The aims of this training course are:

  • Improving, creating and experimenting with new and innovative tools for organizing youth projects and specific activities within projects in direct cooperation with rural/remote communities and youth organization active or based in those communities
  • Strengthen partnership among initiators and other organizations active in the region in the field of nature conservation through youth & voluntary work

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
  • work that reconnects deep ecology, systems theory and spiritual traditions
  • nature conservation – history, achievements and current policies
  • opportunities and role of youth organization for working in nature conservation in rural areas
  • 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)

We are looking for 28 participants from Kosovo, Serbia, Croatia, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Albania and Turkey, interested in the topic, willing to develop long-term programs for nature conservation, and interested in reconnection with people and nature. Advantage will be given to SCI activists, volunteers and staff.

Partner organizations can send the number of participants indicated bellow.

  • VCV Serbia – 3 participants
  • VUK, Croatia – 3 participant
  • DEM, Macedonia – 4 participants
  • CVS, Bulgaria – 3 participants
  • SCI Hellas, Greece – 3 participant
  • SCI Italy – 3 participants
  • PVN Albania – 3 participants
  • Youth Art, Turkey – 3 participants
  • Gaia, Kosovo – 3 participants

The application form is available at this Application form and should be filled in no later than 10th of May!

Selection of participants will be done by 20th of May!

IMG_3719.jpg

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 planet-friendly means of transport.

This training will be followed up with two activities

  1. 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) – the call will be published soon as well 🙂
  2. Partnership Building Activity (PBA) in November in Gračanica, small town situated in central Kosovo.

We are looking forward to receiving your applications

The prep-team 🙂

 

Poziv: razmjena mladih

PRIRODA ZOVE

Razmjena mladih: Priroda nas PONOVNO povezuje

Kuterevo, Utočište za medvjede i ljude, od 11. do 21.05.2016.

Priroda zove 24 mladih ljudi iz Hrvatske, Srbije, Kosova i Bosne i Hercegovine (po 6 osoba iz svake zemlje), koji su zainteresirani za desetodnevnu razmjenu mladih koja će se održavati u Kuterevu, selu na sjeveroistočnim obroncima planine Velebit.

Glavna ideja ove razmjene mladih je ponovno povezivanje s prirodom u nama i oko nas. Kuterevsko utočiše je odlično mjesto za ponovno uspostavljanje veze između ljudi i prirode jer nam medvjedi mogu pomoći povezati se s prirodom. U isto vrijeme, pokušavamo raditi na prekidanju prakse socijalne otuđenosti i nepovezanosti, i želimo potaknuti jedni druge na izgradnju drugačijeg svijeta.

Tijekom ovog susreta ćemo…

… istraživati značenje i praksu suživota prirode i ruralnog područja,

… upoznavati lokalnu zajednicu, njihove običaje, tradiciju i način života, te život u skladu s godišnjim dobima,

… učiti o i od divljine (orijentacija, jestive i ljekovite biljke, tragovi…),

… otkrivati plemenske običaje i glazbu prirode,

… produbljivati svijest o bogatstvu i različitosti života oko nas,

… baviti se ekološkom dimenzijom svog vlastitog identiteta

… uživati, zabavljati se i još ponešto 🙂

Program će biti raznolik i intenzivan jer ćemo imati radionice od jutra do popodnevnih sati, a uz to i večernje aktivnosti.

ŠTO JE RAZMJENA MLADIH

Razmjena mladih je dio projekta Erazmus+ Programa, koji okuplja grupe mladih ljudi iz dvije ili više zemalja i omogućuje im razmjenu mišljenja i diskusije na razne teme, uz koje uče o zemljama drugih sudionika, njihovim stanovnicima i kulturama. Razmjene mladih mladim ljudima daju priliku postati aktivni sudionici, kreativni i kritični, omogućavaju im da nešto nauče jedni od drugih, da nauče nešto novo o sebi i sami sebi postave izazove, da pogriješe i nauče nešto iz tih grešaka, da iskuse raznolikost u malom…

LOKACIJA I UVJETI

Kuterevo je malo selo s otprilike 550 stanovnika na Velebitu. Udaljeno je 30 km od Senja, prekrasnog gradića na morskoj obali, 60 km od Nacionalnog parka Plitvička jezera i samo 10 km od Nacionalnog parka Sjeverni Velebit. Kuterevo se proteže u dolini dugoj 6 km.

Grupa će biti smještena u drvenoj kući koja se nalazi u Utočištu za medvjede i ljude. Nekada je to bio sjenik a danas se koristi za smještaj grupa. Postoje samo dva veća prostora za spavanje i nema mjesta za privatnost. Kuha se zajednički uz pomoć jedne Kuterevke. Svi obroci biti će veganski uz pokoju vegetarijansku opciju.

UVJETI ZA SUDIONIKE

Svaka od partnerskih organizacija izabrat će 6 sudionika, od kojih će jedan biti vođa grupe. Prethodno iskustvo na internacionalnim aktivnostima mladih (razmjene, seminar, radni kampovi…) nisu obavezni niti nose prednost. Ovdje su navedene neke od točaka koje će se uzimati u obzir pri odabiru:

  • Zanimanje za teme i voljnost pripremiti se za njih prije same razmjene
  • Voljnost isključiti se virtualno a uključiti prirodno
  • Spremnost živjeti samoodrživo u internacionalnoj zajednici, u udaljenom mjestu, na period od 10 dana
  • Biti spreman aktivno sudjelovati i pridonijeti radu skupine
  • Imati između 18 i 30 godina (moguće su iznimke za osobe mlađe od 18 godina)

PRAKTIČNI UVJETI ZA SUDIONIKE

  • Smještaj i hrana su organizirani, također i grupni izleti tijekom programa
  • Putni troškovi (isključivo ekološki prihvatljivim prijevoznim sredstvima) bit će refundirani nakon što organizatoru budu predane SVE ORIGINALNE putne karte.
  • Internet neće biti dostupan, osim u hitnom (zaista hitnom i važnom) slučaju, pa ako trebate pisati diplomski rad ili ne možete preživjeti bez Facebooka, molimo vas da se prijavite neki drugi put.

Ova je razmjena dio projekta Priroda nas (ponovno) povezuje, čiji je prvi dio već održan an Šar planini (Kosovo) u studenome prošle godine. Više informacija o ovoj i drugim razmjenama koje su organizirane uz podršku Erasmus+ mogu se pronaći na našem blogu mountainsconnectingpeople.wordpress.com

Ako ste zainteresirani za sudjelovanje na razmjeni mladih Priroda nas (ponovno) povezuje, pošaljite svoje prijave na kuterevo.volunteers@gmail.com do 25.03.2016.

Prijavni formular: Nature that reconnects us APPL_Kuterevo

Kontakti partnera:

Srbija: Volonterski Centar Vojvodine (office@volontiraj.rs)

Bosna i Hercegovina: Terra Dinarica (terradinarica@gmail.com)

Kosovo: GAIA SCI Kosovo (gaia.kosovo@gmail.com)