weekly blog from the 2013 Project in GVU
The first volunteer from BAB (the coordinator) has
returned to GVU after almost 2 years away. The first
few days were spent in Sarajevo catching up on political
developments in Bosnia Herzegovina. The political situation
is far from ideal with Western backed corrupt officials
and politicians continuing to plunder the country and
creating a situation that will not create a long term
stable solution. Along side this, loans are being taken
from the IMF and EU that cannot be repaid even if every
last tree and river of this beautiful country is sold
off or polluted. But even in these conditions BAB will
continue to work against nationalism and the threat
of war through conflict resolution and peace building
projects in Gornji Vakuf Uskoplje.
The coordinator arrived in GVU on Tuesday to find that
the rented volunteer house has no electricity, water
or a single piece of furniture. Not even a bed. So the
first few days have been spent organising furniture
and electric. There is still no water, but the volunteers
can use the water from a nearby house. The house has
a wonderful view of the town and is just 5-10 minutes
walk from the Omladinski youth centre. By housing all
the volunteers in one house this will massively reduce
the accommodation costs.
In between carrying furniture, meetings have started
with the staff of Omladinski centre and other volunteers
who have been working with the centre during the summer.
Ideas and the program is being developed and equipment
is being checked, or were necessary bought.
The dark room that we built 2 years ago, whilst training
children to teach photography workshops is still in
use. The park we built with the young people from the
town is still there, even though its looking like it
needs a bit of love and care. The first volunteers will
arrive this weekend and the program is due to start
this coming Monday.
The first week of the project started on Monday 22
of July with a variety of workshops and group building
activities. The BAB volunteers are working in partnership
with volunteers from intercordia.
This week we ran the first photography workshops providing
an introduction to using pinhole cameras and developing
pictures in the darkroom that we built 2 years ago.
The workshops were attended by youth from both sides
of the town of various ages and genders.
We also started the first part of the mural painting
workshops, painting the hallway of the youth center
which will be expanded to painting the activity room
and office of Omladinski centar over the next few weeks.
This has been carried out by international volunteers
and the youth from the town
along with various art workshops. Other sports and fun
based activities ran during the week in the parks on
both sides of town with youth of mixed ethnicity. The
volunteers also spent some time cleaning up the park
that was built 2 years ago by the youth of the town.
On Friday we had a fun based picnic that was started
in one park and then continued in the other park. The
picnic was a celebration of the intercordias final activity
before they leave, as well as a welcome for the arrival
of the BAB volunteers. The picnic was attended by many
children from both sides of town and included face painting,
fun sports activities, photography, ice cream and even
In additon, we have also now set up a flickr account
were you can see photos from the project in 2011 and
2013. More photos will be uploaded as the project continues.
During the second week of the program we have increased
the activities offered to the youth of the town.
We have continued the photography workshops which have
taught film and digital photography, which included
teaching about proportions, how to take portraits and
movement in photography. The technical aspects have
included depth of field and shutter speed. The children
have been taught how to develope negatives and dark
room printing. The workshops have also included one
to one tuition as well as promoting team work through
sharing camera's and group projects. A photo exhibition
has been set up in the youth center from work produced
This week we started the short movie making workshops
which have focused on ...
One minute movie making' which teaches how the participants
how to operate a camera,
Funny Faces which teaches how to film portraits and
Stop Motion which teaches animation techniques, and
Make a Pop Video which teaches choreography, composition
Amongst all of this we have also been teaching film
Even though we took a break on the murals, we have continued
to run art workshops which included designing and developing
board games, graffiti art, building 3D towns, Mexican
weaving, 2D and 3D robots as well as prop and set design
for the pop video for the short movie making workshops.
During the week we had to say goodbye to the two Intercordia
volunteers as well as Jon (a former intercordia volunteer
who this time volunteered for BAB). We also found out
this week that Bridges Across Borders is held up as
a model for other European volunteer organisations and
our reputation and work is highly respected by many
This week we have continued the art workshops which
have included starting on the next mural in the activity
room. Along side this we have been running art workshops
for younger children which have included paper bird
making, graffiti writing, designing and constructing
a city land scape and learning English through art.
The short movie making workshops have also continued,
this time focusing on teaching teenagers how to make
short films. These have included the techniques listed
last week. Photography workshops have also continued
with a new part teaching about digital photography and
Meetings have also started about a new project in the
park which is still in the planning stage, but we hope
can be realised in the short period we have left. We
have also received some very good news. At least one
of our students from two years ago has gained a place
at university on the back of what they had been taught
during our workshops in 2011.
We could only run the project for three days this week
due to Omladinski center closing for Bajram, but it
will give the volunteers their first days off since
the project started.
During the fourth week of the program, since photography
has been such a success, we have continued this with
more workshops teaching film and digital photography,
developing in the darkroom and how to use Photoshop.
The art workshops continued with Jackson Pollock toothbrush
techniques, collage, making monsters, creating tissue
paper flowers, mural stick ups and building giant caterpillars.
The majority of the art workshops were focused on group
work in developing the different art. Along side these
workshops the next mural was started in the activity
room of the youth center.
At the end of this week we held a photo exhibition in
the town, outside the youth center which was open to
all citizens from this divided town.
Then we held a disco for the young people and their
parents, which was attended by approx 60 young and old
alike, dancing the night away together. Two more volunteers
will leave this weekend so we will be left with a team
of three volunteers for the finale week of the project.
The fifth and final week of the project has continued
with art workshops which have included building 3D paper
cities, creating plastic recycled animals, modelling
clay monsters, abstract word drawing, 2D self portraits
and making jewellery. We also continued with the large
mural in the activity room.
In addition, a new workshop was held this week that
taught how to make a fanzine, which was named BABzine
and was distributed throughout the town highlighting
the programme carried out by 'Bridges Across Borders'
this summer. We also held a final picnic in the park
that was built 2 years ago by children and youth from
the town along with the BAB volunteers.
Sadly our time has come to the end for this summer
after a very busy programme carried out by an amazing
team of international volunteers which has included
people from England, Scotland, Italy, Canada, America
and Australia. Around 150 children and teenagers from
both sides of town have taken part in various parts
of the programme.
We also decided to support a project in the town of
Bugojno by donating a digital HD-camcorder, with accessories
and software, an additional 16GB memory disc and tripod
to be used by Eko Art Bugonjo. This is a theatre group
that works with youth and adults and has produced and
shown a number of pieces addressing a variety of issues,
including learning about different cultures, politics
Presently they are producing a piece in partnership
with FEDRA Bugojno to raise awareness about breast cancer
and breast amputees and the necessity of improvement
of health care for cancer patients. We cannot understate
how groundbreaking this is in a culture were issues
like this are not addressed or even talked about. We
proudly support them and the work they are doing.
Thanks again to everyone who has supported
us in making all of this possible.