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February 1, 2017

BarCamp Prishtina #41 – Volunteerism for Change

Whether it is by developing new skills, helping causes that light you up, meeting new people, connecting with your community, or by expanding your horizons, volunteerism holds the power to change your life for the better!

Such a noble thing as volunteerism and civic activism is often seen by young people as means to reach their goals: be granted access to good schools, good jobs, and open doors to new opportunities, but if we look back just two decades ago, volunteerism was a way of survival for an entire nation. When times were tough and challenging, the country was in the verge of an armed conflict and the public institutions were no longer functional, the parallel institutions founded on the bases of some amazing people’s goodwill is what kept everyone going and slowly rebuilt a country.

Such a system was the Parallel Medical system which, when aided by the “Mother Theresa” Society, built 96 clinics operating throughout Kosovo and benefited around 350’000 people in need. Alongside the Medical system, the Parallel Education system served more than 100,000 students in 3,200 private homes from 1992 – 1999. Such great outreach was possible by hard working people such as Fatime Boshnjaku, a humanitarian activist from Gjakova who also helped organize food and clothes distribution in the affected regions of Kosovo, taking on great personal risks voluntarily.

Flash forward to our new, developing state and we can see the spirit of Fatime and thousands of others who worked just as tirelessly as her, portrayed in young people who are determined to give as much as they can. Such people are Florande Morina, Vigan Jashari, and Jeta Berisha, who took some times to share their experiences of civic activism with the audience last night.

Florande Morina, who volunteers for The Ideas Partnership dedicates her time and energy to work with young girls from minority communities in Kosovo, to help them integrate in society, especially in continuous education. Floranda tried to encourage the rest of the audience to also part-take in volunteer initiatives no matter how small, showing them that even if you don’t get anything from voluntarism, at the least you will feel like a better person afterwards.

Vigan Jashari started his inspiring talk of his journey as an activist by sharing some background of his family’s involvement in civic activity, such as lending their house to be used as a school object in the 90s and his mother’s volunteer teaching for many years. Vigan followed his family’s steps working as a volunteer for YMCA, helping clean common areas, working in summer schools aimed for kids with special needs, kids from foster homes, and kids from different backgrounds. From 2005 he dedicates his time to Engineers Without Borders and has largely contributed to rebuild homes for families in need who lost their houses during the Kosovo conflict.

Jeta Berisha who was our third speaker for the night, shared some insights to her many volunteer activities starting from her experience when she was 17 which soon enough landed her the first job. Jeta is involved in many different spheres and works with families in need (helping them by collecting food and clothes especially during winter when even surviving tends to become difficult for an awful lot) and women suppressed by the patriarchal mentality. She believes that a volunteers work should be seen by their actions and not by their public appearances. And it is her actions and hard work are exactly what make her such an inspiring human being.

We would like to thank our partners Democracy 4 Development and the Brittish Embassy in Prishtina for helping us organize this event, and all the audience who carefully listened to the speakers unfold their activities.

We hope that by putting together these stories we have managed to inspire you to be part of the change. Remember that volunteers are not necessarily the people who have a lot of time in their hands but they are most certainly the ones who have the heart!

BarCamp Prishtina #41 – Photo Gallery

The topic of volunteerism will be discussed in BarCamps of other cities as well, just as it has in the latest edition of BarCamp Ferizaj, and if you you would like to see what speakers from those cities have to share please follow BarCamps in the cities below for details on dates and speakers of their events:

BarCamp Peja: Facebook Page

BarCamp Gjilan: Facebook Page

BarCamp Mitrovica: Facebook Page