24 January – 2 February 2015
It is again a very snowy day in Srebrenica. We have had sunshine, rain, violent wind so strong it has blown people’s roofs off and ancient trees have been uprooted. Every day the weather has been different. As always the food and hospitality has warmed us, no matter what the temperature.
I travelled to Bosnia with Ruth Daniel and Teresa Bean from EducationIPOW at Manchester University UK and Agencia. They have developed a programme to train young people in social enterprise for the creative and cultural industries. This includes anything from architecture and web design to getting your record label or recording off the ground to building cultural festivals.
Nine young cultural leaders, youth centre Directors, Directors of cultural festivals and those interested in photography and theatre took part. They came from Sarajevo, Jelah, Bratunac and Srebrenica.
The aim of the week’s pilot project was to empower the participants to become trainers of the process and go on to train others. In five days I saw a transformation taking everyone there from a state of, in many cases, negativity and concerns as to how to raise money to do anything, to a room filled with ideas, energy and the attitude of let’s do it! Just start!
Conversations continued in the evening, over breakfast and into the night and already some have started developing their ideas, meeting with local teachers, local heads of NGO’s and their schools. A great night of rock music was held at Malboro Fest and Ruth did her 4 hour stint of dj-ing t Malboro with music from Africa, South America and the world.
The Malboro Café was really rocking.
See below for the details of EducationIPOW’s programme.
Every time I visit Bosnia, in particular Srebrenica and the surround towns and villages, including Bratunac, I am so happy to return to see some of the close friends I have met here. The other side of the visit is hearing the stories of corruption, of loss, of inadequate services and hardship.
I met some of the mothers of the children and young people with disabilities who rely on Leptir, the Assocation for Handicapped Children in Milici, Bratunac and Srebrenica. 265 families, 90% of home are unemployed and with little welfare and almost zero support. Those with disability are mainly excluded from society and certainly from any form of education. Not sure how some of the politicians can live with themselves at night, but they seem to manage.
There are always stories from young people about not being able to get a job because they won’t join the current political party. A bank in Sarajevo who takes on young people as interns who work free for 18 months, have their Facebook pages monitored and are expected to go to the Mosque for prayers if they want advancement in their careers.
Some of it might be gossip, some of it might be just the general negative trend and left over communist and post war environment, but there are too many stories for them all to be an exaggeration and mirrored of course by the current massive drain of young graduates from Bosnia, the highest number in Wider Europe.
But, there are many young people with great energy who are determined to make change.
This last week ideas and projects sprouted and hope was rekindled. Her is a sample of the action already being taken:-
• Working towards a youth centre in Bratunac
• Building a partnership between 4 youth centres, Srebrenica, Suceska, Jelah and Bratunac
• Two youth festivals, Silvertown Shine in Srebrenica and Rastok Fest in Jelah continuing their collaboration and working with The Complete Freedom of Truth and IPOW/Agencia! to bring bands and musicians to Srebrenca for August 12h launch of TCFT on the International Day of Youth
• A Youth Manifesto for young people's voices and rights.
• Support for the development of a Data collection company to expand with ideas of creating youth hubs, creating work for young people and bringing in support systems from a UK start up company.
• A couple of young people interested in developing this Education/IPOW training and becoming the coordinator and facilitator in the region for the programme
• The revival of the theatre work began by the Children’s Music Theatre in Srebrenica which developed FETUS theatre company with the support from Care International, teachers from the local high schools and the Municipality of Bratunac. Lots of young people really keen to involve themselves in theatre
• Links to youth festivals and networks across the globe, skype introductions already taking place.
An additional benefit is that a group of young people and local NGO’s are working together to raise funds for the Summer Music Camp so that more disadvantaged children can get the chance to go on a music holiday by the sea.
2 – 5 February
Now in Sarajevo and again seeing friends and other young people from Srebrenica and Bratunac who are studying in East Sarajevo and in some cases working two jobs to pay for their courses.
These 4 days are about meeting with the European Commission, OSCE, UNICEF, Professors, Ministers, Council of Europe, Goethe Institute and the British Council plus individual colleagues and advisors. They need to hear the stories of what's happening on the ground.
The conversations are about TCFT this year and all that entails, the EducationIPOW experiences and the results, the continuing discussions about the use of music in kindergardens, elementary schools and to support those with disability and to encourage inclusion. With the UNESCO document being published concerning social inclusion in education in BiH, this work is timely.
There’ll be more to report at the end of this week, but the energy is palpable. There is change in the air. There is talk about what is going to happen on February 7th, the day that people took to the streets in 2014. I sense that people have had enough of being ill used by their governments and perhaps with the encouragement of the people's of Greece and Spain, Bosnia may rise up and demand fairness, human rights, the same education system for all, the end to corruption and the opportunities for this beautiful country to rise up and take its place in Europe.
I am really interested to see what’s next. Thank you everyone for a great trip including Avdo at Hotel Misriljie, Bato's Restaurant, the Youth Council and Youth Centre staff, SARA, Cesvi, Avdo and The House of Good Tones (Bauern helfen Bauern) for the use of your spaces for the programme, Malboro Cafe, Susie Wagner, Care International and everyone who took part.
Here are the details of EducationIPOW’s Cultural Entrepreneur Programme:
The culture industries include music, media, film, design, theatre, publishing and art. They are important to cultural, economic and social life.
In Place of War’s unique 8-week short course (CDP) explores a diverse range of practices and models through a series of innovative case studies from around the world. Students will engage with and analyse real life creative models and learn skills to develop a creative project.
Participants can find out how to develop and deliver a live event, learn why the cultural industries are important, discover how networks and partnerships can enhance a creative project, explore alternative models for structuring your creative business, understand how to fund a creative project and explore how others in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America have developed their creative projects. You will also develop your own creative project and present it to industry experts.
In Place of War are collaborating with some of the most innovative cultural organisations in the world to bring you an insight in the creative industries. Contributors to the course include Foro do Eixo (Brazil), Only Much Louder (India), Association Africulturban (Senegal), Magamba Network (Zimbabwe), Case De Paz (USA) and Livity (UK).
Opera Circus and all of us who work together in partnership and with all the youth activists and artists are really happy to have been the first pilot programme ever of this brilliant and empowering process.
There will be an evaluation soon which we will add to this web site and also make a page that will connect everything that’s going on with this programme and all of those we are connected with. OC will act as a local facilitator for all those participating in this programme both in BiH. We hope to feed this Cultural Entrepreneur programme through The Complete Freedom of Truth project in Srebrenica in 2015 and in Manchester with Contact the World in 2016.
All participant’s training was certified through Manchester University as will be those who are trained.