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The project in Ustikolina
Short report about the evaluation of the first 4 months of the Ustikolina's project

This page is deliverately in a text format. We suggest you to print it or to download the full report clicking on the big mill so you can read it.

From August 1997 to January 1998 we achieved the first step of our project in Ustikolina, what we call the stage of "introduction in the community". The moment has come to evaluate the degree of reaching our aims during this period, basically for planning the future of the project. As a main impression, we can say that until now we are following quite well the steps we planned. The Club is integrated in the town, and people are starting to take more and more responsibilities in it. The women's Club is deriving to an "income generating project", as a co- operative. In the town of Foca, we just start to be introduced but we begin to see some positive behaviours in the way to the reconciliation. Of course, during those months we had also problems. The main one has been the lack of funding. In this point we have to remark the help we have been receiving from the municipality of Ustikolina. In other side, it was also quite hard to face the apathy of many local people after the first time of illusion for a new thing in the village. In the end of September, when school and college started working again we suffered a sudden reduction of people involved in the activities, but after that, it started soon to go slowly up again. In Foca it is being difficult to get a deeper collaboration of the local authorities, what's normal -due to our work in the Federation- and always improving. So, in general we think now is already the moment to pass to the next stage. That means basically to take a more expecting position in the Club, to look for more realistic possibilities for income generating with the group of women and to start motivating people from Foca to come sometimes to Ustikolina. Anyway, it is also useful to have a fast look of the situation of all our activities in this moment.

The women's group
The evolution of the group of women is running in a very concrete direction: an income generating project. We saw that women in Ustikolina have very specific problems. In the Bosnian after wartime, the situation of many women is becoming hard: The women are suffering more than men the consequences of unemployment. The paradox is that there are lots of women who lost their husbands during the war and have take now in charge the all family. At the same time, the general situation of the woman in Bosnia is changing together with the society and the religion.
At the beginning our idea in Ustikolina was to promote a Club for women where they can meet & talk, a place for themselves. But women in Ustikolina have got bigger problems. They haven't time for coming to the Club, because they must work a lot in their houses and farms. They appeared more interested in possibilities for generating income, and we decided to support them in this idea.
At the first moment, the idea has been to give them wool (we receive it as humanitarian donation) and to try to sell the work they make in foreign countries, basically Spain and Italy. When this possibility was divulged in the village women started slowly to come to the Club. About 30 women are now coming regularly there, three times in week.
We think now is a good moment for women starting to work as a real co- operative. They have to organise themselves and, what's more important, to start using some of their income for paying expenses such as transport or materials. In this step we want to support them a lot, making a "market-study" about commercial possibilities, showing them examples of other women's co-operatives and helping them to make commercial contacts. It is quite hard because some women are quite old and have some resistance to changing the traditional works they use to knit, even if it is need for finding possibilities for selling it. Some of them, also doesn't accept the idea of putting in the "group-box" some of their incomes. We try to support the most some women who are pushing the others to act with more solidarity and who have a more realistic idea about the co-operative.
For the future of the women project we will really need a lot of new funds. Also some volunteer have to be working full time for supporting this project. It is need in Ustikolina and in other countries & other Bosnian towns.

The project in Foca

Our work in the town of Foca/Srbinje (Republika Srpska) is going slowly, but we can already see there few results and lots of possibilities. We think it can be the activity the most important for future. The social situation in Foca/Srbinje is quite hard; we have been thinking about working an it, to mitigate some of those problems, but finally we decided to concentrate ourselves just in was our original intention: work in reconciliation between Muslims and Serbs. We keep the possibility of starting in the future a new project focused in social problems of Foca/Srbinje, but we have to accept -in the actual moment- our limits and possibilities.
The way we are using for working in reconciliation is complicate. We are starting to manage some activities in the town. Until now we have just been teaching English language. We organised a formal high- level course for about 15 adults and a more basic one for the same amount of children. That was a way to introduce us in the town and to start knowing some people. Just the fact of crossing everyday the "border" between the Federation and the Republika Srpska, and the fact that people living in the two sides know that we are working in both are really very positive. In the lessons of English we try to introduce subjects and a way of working related with principles such as living together, working in groups and solidarity. We have been talking with pupils and inviting them to visit the Club in Ustikolina. Some of them already asked for permission for it!
Of course, our objective in middle term is to motivate and support people from Foca/Srbinje for coming to the Club in Ustikolina, but we want to do it slowly. At the moment, for not disturbing our relationship with the local Serbian authorities, we prefer that is the people interested who ask for permissions for to come. It is, clearly, too soon for to do it permanently as organisation. Anyway, we want to start increasing activities in Foca/Srbinje for meeting more people there and for having some kind of infrastructure there that will help in the continuity of the project. The first thing we want to start is a course of photography: Teaching people to use a camera and to make good pictures and photo-reports. Developing will not be included, because our lab is in Ustikolina, but people interested can start asking us to go there for learning. We also want to start a ceramics workshop (again, the kiln is in the Club) and a "creative workshop" with kids. Now we are using there a room in the local library, but we hope that in future we could get some other space for activities, maybe in some school. The basic idea is to work carefully for slowly starting to build up "bridges" for connecting again Foca/Srbinje with Ustikolina.

The Club and related activities
The building of the Club is now quite renovated but still there are some works to do there. Mainly, the windows need a second glass for reducing cold inside, two more doors are needed for separating rooms and the electrical connection have to be remade because isn't supporting power enough. For all this things we hope to get some collaboration from the municipality (that is being asked by the young people to the major) and maybe some special help from the groups collaborating with us from outside countries. During last five months we got a completely new roof for the Club, donated by Cap Anamur -and installed together with local people- and we settled four different rooms there with their equipment: Music Club for playing and practising, ceramic workshop, photolab and meeting room for women and young. In the school building we have also got a room where is installed the computer's workshop. We have six computers operating there, but just two of them have a processor 486, what allows complicate operations.
About the situation of the activities, we can see it one by one:

English lessons
This activity was though as an introduction one. During summer time we had about fifty students from different ages. Later, when college started again people decreased. The two groups (children and adults) became smaller, basically the adult one. In October, we decided to stop lessons for restarting in a different way. Since November, there are again both groups, but our idea is to organise now short language courses. Every course should continue during two months and increase level respect to the course finished before. We also try to include in the English lessons contents related with solidarity, reconciliation and working in groups.

The photolab just started to run. The first step was to teach few people (there are about five or six persons interested) the basic technique for making pictures and developing. We didn't organise it as a course but as a Club, teaching them whenever they come and ask for it. Next step should be to motivate more people and to set up some days every week when other people can come for developing and will receive the support of the persons who already know.

Computers lessons & Club
Those are real lessons. At the moment we have some twenty people learning to use the most common programs (windows, MS-Word, DOS,...) in a course during two months. At the end they receive a certificate. After the actual course we want to start a new one for the beginners who stayed out last time and an advanced one for people very motivated.
In the lessons we also try to pass positive contents: as exercise they do things for the Club and have to work together. We are also trying to motivate people, by those lessons, for starting a local newspaper.
The next we want is that some adults that already learned enough help us teaching the kids of the village during the school's holidays. At the same time we are developing what we call "computer's Club": The room is open the all day for people who want to use computers. For that they have to be in the lessons or to demonstrate that they know how to use it.

Music workshop
Using the music instruments that we have got we are actually trying to organise a group. The idea is to teach many people to play different instruments. They should learn by playing together, what is a way to push a little to met other people and to develop sociability together with the music activity. At the same time, everybody can use the room and music instruments just taking the responsibility for to do it.

Ceramics workshop
Same as with the English lessons, the ceramics was quite popular at the beginning, becoming later less attractive. Adults and teenagers stopped coming to work with clay. We also have some technical problem with the kiln (is actually broken, even if we will fix it soon) that made the activity going slower. In the other side, there is a stable group of kids coming every day to make ceramics. We are working an sociability and group-skills with those people. For the future, we think the moment has come to try to involve some adults and young people in working with ceramics. Is an activity useful because of the therapeutics values and for the possibilities of income generating for the Club. We also hope it will be easier when the electricity installation will be stronger and it will be possible to use the electrical weeshler.

The young Club
The main room in the building is already working as a Club for young people. Most of young people from Ustikolina pass sometimes by the Club for meeting. There is also a concrete group of people who is coming everyday and is feeling the Club as their own place. With this people the step of passing them the responsibility of the Club has already started. A meeting was organised where the young settled some rules and distributed few responsibilities such as cleaning, talking with authorities, looking up for the Music's workshop,... They also accepted the possibility of young from Foca coming some time to the Club. The thing that worries us the most is that the people controlling the Club are a reduced group. We are afraid of them using their responsibilities as a power against other people. That's why in future we think our action should be to motivate more people -from different groups- to integrate in the "Club's staff". We also want to support all of them for stabilising rules that make the Club open to everybody and that are based in principles such as solidarity. At the same time, we think for future the users are the only people who have to worry for repairing the Club or looking for new furniture.

Other things
Without to be planned we are managing other activities; mostly because receiving divers materials as donations. So, we are lending out books for Children. It started because of them asking for books. Now we made library-cards. We hope it can be the beginning of a small library, if we are able to get more books. The same happens with the bikes. We received a few bikes and got the idea of lending them out. We lend them to the people coming to our activities from places away of Ustikolina's centre. Women and teenagers -basically- will have the possibility of using a bike for periods of one week or longer if nobody else ask it. The only thing they have to do is to repair it when get broken.

The project is continously evaluated. Please read the Last News page to know more about the short termed actualised evaluations.

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