wam kat on Fri, 4 Jun 1999 05:01:52 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> [Balkansunflower-list] Update 10


Update 10

Greetings from the Balkan Sunflower teams. 

As ever, the response from the world is keeping us busy, and times have been a
little stressful of late due to several factors , including the changeover from
the Pathfinders teams to the first long term volunteers. For instance; in
Tirana we had difficulty finding people who could respond quickly enough ,
leaving quite some days where Wam is on his own

But we have had good news as well, and thus the project rolls on.

Intro from Tirana
-----------------

For most of you it is probably already some weeks ago that you haven't heard
from me directly, since a bit more then 2 weeks I am in Tirana now, preparing
the coming of the first Balkan Sunflower volunteers, which will come at the end
of this week. If you like to know what life in Tirana and Albania is look like,
besides from what you see on television or read in the newspapers, I advice you
to have a look on the balkan sunflower homepage, or join the list to get my
daily diary (send the message subscribe diary-l  to the address
majordomo@ecn.cz)

But never the less, that Tirana and Albania are having a lot of problems, not
only because over 400.000 Kosov@ refugees came to this country, but also that
it has problems enough without them as being by far the poorest country of
Europe, the preparation of the Balkan Sunflowers is going well. Good contacts
are established with both local and international NGO's (among them big and
small organisation, from which I mentioned UNHCR, UNICEF, IRC, CRS, and
especially the Albanian and Kosova Youth Councils) are build up and a number of
possible projects are in the final state are planned. 

The Peace Hostel
-----------------
In the middle of Tirana we have hired a nice big house, which will be our
central office and peace hostel, which is open for everybody (if you are not a
sunflower volunteer you need to pay $5 per night, what is rather cheap in this
place) as of end of this week.

If you are looking for nice beaches, discos and "having a good time" Albania
and Tirana is not really the place you should go to, however if you are
intersting in doing something usefull and learn something about the reality
behind the things you see in the news, this is one of the places to come.

News from  Skopje-team Macedonia
-------------------

The  Skopje-team started to work with five people making contacts with the
local organizations.  This lasted the whole first week, there was a lot to be
done! The NGO-setting in Skopje is not bad, there are different local
organizations working on humanitarian aid, inter-ethnic issues. After a day in
an expensive hotel we found via a friend an apartments for 400 DM, quite cheap
for a complete room, with bathroom and kitchen in the centre of Skopje.

In the first week we noticed there are different layers in the Macedonian
society: the Macedonians, the Macedonian Albanians, the refugees Kosovar
Albanians and the international community.  There have their own network and
own funders, there are however some working on inter-ethnic issues.However, it
has to be said that there is a lot of  tension in the country   

After making a lot of local contacts we (the pathfinders Jojo and  Wilbert
together with the longterm volunteers Danae and Gary ) started to work out two
concrete projects.

One is an internet project, under the name of Riks, and the other was for a
large refugee camp, called Stenkovec.  The internet project, to provide
internet access to refugees, now has ist own momentum and a wider suport base,
so it seems that Balkan Sunflowers will participate as a partner organisation.
For Stenkovec 1we have contacts with ICMC (International Catholic Migration
Center), together with the local based NGO, Medajshi (Children Embassy). We
could start an own Balkan Sunflowers community center in the frame of ICMC.
Although it is a transitcamp, a lot of people could stay there for a while, as
they do not have the luck of going on an airplane to abroad. So there is
potential for community work. There will also be collaboration with local
volunteers from the camp and volunteers from Medjashi. Watch this space for
news.  And another possible idea is to work within the Roma (gypsy) community
in Skopje, a community of some 40 000 people including many thousand refugees
from Kosov@ .


News from Belzig
-----------------

The application forms roll in at a steady pace. At last we are seeing quite a
few applications from people who are NOT in America !! Obviously the very
common internet use there meant that you americans were the  first to respond,
very welcome, but we need lots of other nationalities to make up the
international teams which are so important to the idea of the project.

Related to that, if people would like to donate money to enable those from
poorer countries to take part, this is very much needed. We have already been
approached by SCI Romania and from a Youth Organisation in Bangladesh, both of
whom would like to send volunteers, but will need sponsorship to attend.

Another need is for a computer hardware / network wizard to come and spend
maybe week here to help us sort out our little network and computer needs. If
you could persuade someone to donate what we need for kitting out internet
telephony stuff then that would be good  we need to reduce our phone bills
but we don't want to reduce the time on the phone  it's a very human way of
contact compared to e-mail!!

Financial worries
------------------

The Balkan Sunflowers is not a big organisation with unlimited cash, it is a
network of volunteers, who basically finances themselves. But nevertheless to
run this network money is needed. The last weeks we experienced that big parts
of the world are more or less fed up with the news which is coming from this
part of Europe. But still the crisis is there and every day new refugees are
coming in and the biggest part is still hosted under the most horrible
circumstances. And this will continue for at least the coming year (if not
years). 

In the last 7 weeks we have established a lot, but now it is coming to a
critical point, we have organised projects (and get financial and material
support for it), we built up the infrastructure, we mobilised volunteers from
all over the world, but up to now this was basically done by a few gifts and
personal loans (so the project is in fact in debt) and one largish grant from a
Yoga Foundation in the USA. There ARE people raising money (we thank you all
again), e just need more! On this moment we are in a critical situation, not
unusual for a new operation, but in the next coming weeks we have to collect
the money to continue our work. Not much, just a few tens of  thousands of
dollars, but enough to break the whole operation if we don't collect it.

Since we are a network basically supporting relief work in the field of human
resources (our volunteers, who do finance themselves, by own local fundraising)
we can operate cheaply, compared with other organisations. Nevertheless we need
some financial support soon, otherwise allthough almost everything is in place
now, we have to cancel it all, what will be a big disappointment for a lot of
the people who are hoping that we can pull off our activities, especially the
refugees.

So we like to stress once more, how borring that may sound, to help us
financially, since as many big organisation as confirmed in the last weeks this
work is essential. Due to the crisis hardly no other organisation has the time
to get it of the ground, the direct needs are having for them, and when you see
it here you would understand why, a too high priority, but they say over and
over again how important it is if the other, call it second line of relief is
done as well.


Mir sada,
                     wam ;-)
-----------------
Latest info about the Balkan Sunflowers:
http://www.balkansunflowers.org
or by email: lists@mir.org
apply as volunteer: http://www.mir.org/dataform
by the way, we have bankaccount now:
Accountnr:         160 160 1
Accountname:    Sunflower
Bank                   Oekobank Frankfurt (Germany)
Blz                       500 901 00
Telephone numbers: +49-33841-30670 +49-33841-30671 (fax)

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