Teaching Children's Rights, Bowling Competition and Art Homework

Another update from the children and young people we work with in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Aida and Đana took part in a bowling in a competition in Sarajevo for people with special needs. Their team was placed third in the competition. Way to go girls!

Nermina was so proud of herself after working on writing and addition in the Kids Club.

Tayra was one of the kids involved in the weekend workshop discussing the rights of children. The activity included the kids choosing the rights that they believed in the most and then placing a handprint with the color they identified that right with. The finished product hangs in the kids club so the kids can be reminded all year long of their different rights.

Elvedin is an artist and wanted to share his work from school with everyone at the Kids Club.

Math is a group effort at the Kids Club.

Homework Help for Children in State Care

Egipatsko Selo orphanage, Mostar, and the good work of our Naša Djeca project team. During the school term we run an after school "Kids Club" to help the children with their homework.

Ilvanna is working on English homework. Her confidence in reading is improving by the week as she practices during homework help at the Kids Club.

Which way is north? The kids had a homework assignment to create a compass with tools they could find around the house. Belma led this activity flawlessly and the kids had fun playing with magnets, cork and a needle.

Ajdina is crazy about the alphabet. She was very proud of her work while learning new vocabulary words in English.

Mirza is working on some history homework in the Kids Club.

How does one get better at multiplication? With practice on the big black board!

Autumn at the Egipatsko Selo Orphanage

At weekends our employees and volunteers spend time with the kids from the Egipatsko Selo orphanage, combining learning and social skills with fun activities.

Last weekends workshop was on Autumn and the changing of the seasons. September 22 was the first day of fall. The kids were able to go on a nature hike with volunteers and staff, to see what kind of leaves they would find around the orphanage in Mostar.

Autumn has just started so they still found green leaves on the trees and on the ground. They were more excited to see the colourful leaves.

The kids then traced and painted the leaves. Most kids chose to paint their leaves green but were sure to put a touch of brown or yellow on them.

UK Students visit Halfway House

Some of the children from the Egipatsko Selo orphanage, and Students from the Chelsea Academy and Heathland School in London visited our newest project today, the Halfway House (Kuca na Pola Puta) just outside Mostar.

The house provides temporary accommodation, training and support for young adults leaving the state institutions and children's homes. It is a vital link between state care and independent living, and a little support at this critical time can have a hugely positive impact on their lives.

Click here for the full photo gallery

They started the day by working in groups to come up with ideas for sustainable funding of the project. Each group then presented their work. The students had a lot of creative ideas for making the most of the facilities available at the house.

The house and grounds are still quite bare and we want to make it a more homely and welcoming environment for the residents. So the students spent the afternoon planting flower beds and creating a herb garden.

It was hard work as the ground has not been cultivated since the property was first built, so they had to remove a lot of turf and stones before planting.

In the afternoon they spent time relaxing and playing games together. The Halfway House team also put on a wonderful spread of food while the residents fired up the grill.

The visit was funded by the students who each raised at least £1000 to pay for their flights and all the materials used during the day. Everyone at Our Kids Foundation would like to say a big Thank You to them for their efforts.

Mostar Summer Youth Programme - Week 3

As you will see from the pictures, week 3 of MSYP 2016 was full of fun.

Classes continued, including project work and short field trips for some. Workshops also continued in the afternoons and evenings.

For more information and photos from Mostar Summer Youth Programme visit the project's web site mostarsyp.org or their Facebook page facebook.com/mostarsyp

On Monday Alma Hadžidedić an entrepreneur from Sarajevo told stories of young people around the world who had started their own companies. She also ran a workshop which challenged the participants to find a sustainable solution to a problem in their community.

On Tuesday MSYP teacher Alina Mateos Horrisberger lead a workshop on body expression. And later in the evening about 40 participants attended a performance of the play Ajmo na Fuka at the Croatian National Theatre.

MSYP Coordinators made a presentation on Wednesday titled “Life After MSYP” which explored all the ways that alumni of the Programme can stay in touch with MSYP and how MSYP can support them all year round. It also reflected on the organisations that had contributed to the Programme and reminded the participants how they can volunteer and engage with community groups. This was followed in the evening with a workshop on LGBT issues, facilitated by Ružica from Liberta Mo and held at Nansen Dialogue Centre Mostar.

On Thursday Elma Mahmutović, UWC Mostar, spoke to the participants about Human Rights in BiH, taking a look at the legal framework that implements and protects the rights of BiH Citizens, and a critical analysis of its effectiveness.

On Thursday evening MSYP teamed up with Schuler Helfen Leben BiH to take part in their Zajedno Stvaramo community action event. Together the two organisations created four pieces of artwork around various elements of a children’s playground in a residential area of the city. The event was very successful – everyone had such a lot of fun and appreciated an opportunity to make a permanent improvement to the community.

The final workshop of the week was a poetry slam facilitated by MSYP teacher Asha Siad.

So, all the classes and workshops have finished and we are nearing the end of another successful year of the Mostar Summer Youth Programme. It’s been a busy and fun-packed 3 weeks. Just the closing ceremony and party to go, which will be held on Saturday 16 July.

Mostar Summer Youth Programme - Week 2

The second week of MSYP 2016 seemed to pass by so quickly...

The classroom courses started this week, with additional workshops taking place after classes and in the evenings.

The courses in this year’s programme include: Spoken Word Poetry, Architecture and Urban Design, Business Development, Gender and Feminism in Contemporary BiH, Human Rights, Introduction to Investigative Reporting, Literature and Identity, Media Studies, Media and Politics, Narrating Your City, Natural Disaster Response and Recovery, Religious Studies, Social Activism and Civic Engagement, Spectacles on Stage and Screen: An Introduction to Theater and Film, Multimedia Storytelling, Teamwork and Leadership.

The courses are led by teachers from within Mostar and BiH, as well as many other countries around the world. MSYP’s teaching staff for this year have experience living, studying and working in countries including Argentina, BiH, Canada, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, UK and USA.

MSYP aims to provide an alternative model of education which promotes integration, critical thinking and interactive teaching techniques. The classroom courses involve lots of practical hands-on exercises for the participants. For example in the Multimedia Storytelling course the participants will be interviewing people in Mostar and using audio, video and photography to produce short documentaries.

On Monday the after-class workshop was about Global Warming and Sustainable Development, facilitated by Paula Roetscher. Paula made a presentation on local and global environmental issues, and then the participants were asked to work in groups to suggest ways in which they could address these challenges.

On Tuesday MSYP teacher Maida Salkanović ran a workshop on Literary Activism in which she presented her work on the way that disabled people are represented in literature. The workshop prompted a lively and thoughtful discussion.

Jelena and Sanja from Schuler Helfen Leben BiH visited us on Wednesday to run a workshop on Project Grant Writing. In this workshop the participants focused on the idea of an “open academy” – an idea they had come up with themselves during the first week of the program when discussing social projects. The participants expanded and developed the idea under guidance from Jelena, and then practiced pitching their proposal to a panel of MSYP staff.

In the evening, MSYP staff member Asha Siad screened her documentary film 19 Days, which explores the experience of migrants and refugees. The screening was held at OKC Abrasevic, and followed by a short panel discussion on how the film was made and delving a little deeper into the challenges faced by migrants and refugees.

On Thursday the classes were followed by a fun and educational workshop on Mediation, facilitated by Louis Santander. Following a presentation on mediation techniques, the participants took part in a role play exercise in which they acted as disputants in every-day conflict situations, and practiced mediation to try to resolve the conflicting points of view.

On Friday Eliana Trinaistic visited to present her media literacy and civic engagement programme called Documentaries for Change exploring the reach and impact of collaborative, community-based documentary story-telling art for the purpose of civic inclusion.

In the evenings of Thursday and Friday, some of the students participated in "My City Youth City Workshop" which was facilitated by Centar ADA’s creative curator Senada Demirović Habibija. Senada took the participants on a brief tour of some underdeveloped spaces in the urban landscape of central Mostar. She then lead a session in which the group envisioned and planned the content of the spaces, as well as the creative design solution which would become a mobile youth pavilion. The participants then worked on scale models and designs to add further detail to the concept. Connecting participants with ongoing local projects like this is a vital component of MSYP, encouraging participants to become engaged and active in their community year round.

After this busy and full week of classes and workshops, the teachers and participants were able to relax and recharge with a field trip to Hutovo BlatoNature Park generously sponsored by local travel agent Fortuna Tours (http://fortuna.ba). After a short walk during which the participants learnt about the flora and fauna of Hutovo Blato, they took a boat trip around the lake and then had some lunch. Afterwards teachers and participants spent the afternoon relaxing and playing games together, as well as sharing stories about their countries and cultures. On the return to Mostar we took an hour out to explore the beautiful castle and village of Počitelj near Čapljina.

For more photos from Mostar Summer Youth Programme visit the project's web site mostarsyp.org or their Facebook page facebook.com/mostarsyp

Mostar Summer Youth Programme - Week 1

The Mostar Summer Youth Programme started again this week. The 3-week summer programme, supported by Our Kids Foundation, provides an alternative model of education, focusing on critical thinking and interactive learning. It gives high school students from across the city a rare opportunity to learn together, and encourages self-expression and community engagement.

For more information about the Mostar Summer Youth Programme, visit the project's web site mostarsyp.org or their Facebook page facebook.com/mostarsyp

The first week was packed full of workshops and events.

The week started with the opening ceremony followed by a session in which the 70 participants were able to spend time with the teachers and staff, to learn more about their cultures and backgrounds. We then had a workshop lead by local NGO Youth Power exploring emotional intelligence, and a fun Selfie Competition.

The topic of the second day was Mostar and Herzegovina. The opening lecture was delivered by linguistic anthropologist Kevin Kenjar from the University of Berkeley USA, who specialises in the languages of the Balkans. This was a unique opportunity for students from the different ethnic groups in Mostar and South East Europe to learn about the history of their language(s) together, in the same classroom. This was followed by an interactive group workshop called Narrating Your City Delivered by Bosnian/German PHD student of architecture Aida Murtić. The day ended with a tour around Mostar, in which we visited some of the historical, architectural and religious locations in the city, led by MSYP Coordinator Vlatka Lučić and local volunteer Slavica Kraljević.

Day three was all about local NGOs and volunteering. We had presentations by Animals Because We Care and the Red Cross, exploring their work locally and nationally. Then the participants worked in groups to plan a community action day. To close the participants met our representatives from Naša Djeca and spent some time volunteering to make gifts that are sold to raise funds for the project. In the evening MSYP students were invited to the Forum Theatre to watch a play called Maslinova Grana in which a participant and alumni was an actor. After, the participants and teachers took part in an improvisational theatre workshop.

Politics was the theme of day four. It opened with an activity organised by Sho Igawa, MSYP Coordinator, USA/Japan who invited youth to reflect on their views on political issues meaningful to them. This was followed by a session of the European Youth Parliament run by Josipa Šaravanja from EYP and MSYP alumni Ivona, Anamaria, Sanja, Dario, and Adnan. This was a very detailed workshop in which the participants produced and debated resolutions in a simulated parliament setting. We are very proud that our alumi and participants have become so engaged in youth politics and were able to deliver such a high quality workshop.

We devoted Friday to a more relaxed arts theme including workshops on Jazz and Miles Davis (Jusuf Sarančić, Mostar and Chicago), body expression (by Kendra and Melisande McLaughlin, Canada) and storytelling & writing (by Alina Mateos Horrisberger, Argentina). The day explored a diverse raange of arts, concluding with a painting workshop at OKC Abrašević lead by local artists Maja Rubinić and Adnan Golš. The participants produced creative works that will be incorporated into other MSYP activities later in the programme.

The final day of the first week was held at Intera Technology Park. The participants learnt about teamwork, planning and communication within a business context. They day began with presentations from local entrepreneurs Emir Memisević (CityOS) and Samir Šupčić & Amra Buljubašić (Giikly) who talked their experiences of starting up technology businesses in Mostar. In the afternoon the participants took part in a Business Startup Challenge lead by UK and US-based entrepreneur Russell Wiltshire. The participants worked in teams to research and present business ideas related to improving the environment.
Overall it was a hugely successful first week. The participants worked hard but also enjoyed the wide variety of activities, had a lot of fun and made new friends. MSYP continues on Monday with classroom taught courses and more daily workshops and events. To learn more, please visit our web site athttp://www.mostarsyp.com

Some more photos from the first week of MSYP:

Fundraising Concert Raised £5768 For Our Kids Foundation

The results are in and on behalf of the children and young people we serve, we say a huge thank you to everyone who bought tickets and contributed to last month's fundraising concert.

The money is important of course, but we also counted over 300 people through the door which shows that our support is growing. We sincerely hope that you enjoyed the evening and that you will spread the word about Our Kids Foundation.

Thanks to your generosity the proceeds from the concert came to £5768 and every penny will go directly to fund the Foundation's projects in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Speaking of which, we will have many more updates and photos throughout a busy summer as the Kuca na Pola Puta (Halfway House) welcomes its first residents, the Mostar Summer Youth Program runs again for its third year, and Nasa Djeca continues its work with vulnerable and disabled children in institutional care.

Thank you!

 

 

Amira Medunjanin, Ante Gelo and Zvonimir Sestak Perform for Our Kids Foundation Fundraiser

It's not any other weekend when Amira Medunjanin, Ante Gelo and Zvonimir Sestak are in town. They gave a star performance last night and gifted us all a night to remember.

Our Kids is proud to be collaborating with such amazing musicians, who are also truly wonderful people. Thanks to all who came and by so doing turned Our Kids fundraiser into a great success.

We are touched by your loyal support and inspired to keep doing more and better for the disadvantaged children and young people in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

For those who couldn't make it to the concert, here is a taste of Amira's magic.

Click here to see more photos on our Facebook page.

Photography: Almas B Photography

 

 

Fundraising Concert with Amira

We are delighted to announce that for the third year running Amira is having a fundraising concert to support Our Kids charity foundation. The concert will be held at the stunning St Peter's Church in one of the most vibrant parts of London, Notting Hill, on the 21st of May at 1930hrs.

Amira will be performing with two great musicians from Zagreb: Ante Gelo (guitar) for the second time and Zvonimir Sestak (double bass) joining us for the first time.

We would love to see as many of you as possible - all the friends who have enjoyed the first two concerts and many of you who would like to discover Amira's music and her beautiful interpretation of traditional Balkan poetry and sounds. Amira has had some fantastic reviews by the British music critics.

Minimum donation to attend the concert is £20/person and it can be made on https://www.justgiving.com/OurKidswithAmira.  Please clearly state the names on whose behalf the donation is being made. For this donation, you will enjoy canapés and a complimentary drink. 

Owing to your generosity and ongoing support Our Kids has done a lot of work over the past year to help children and young adults in social care or coming out of care and starting their independent lives. 

If you feel inspired to do some charity work and would like to support our mission, please have a look at the many ways how you can volunteer with us (http://www.ourkidsfoundation.org/how-you-can-help)

 

Let the countdown begin!