World Vision Bosnia and Herzegovina
article • Friday, September 15th 2017

Fighting the Summer Blues

Share Tweet Share
Annual youth event brings life and challenges bullying in mountain village

The little town of Knezevo is dying.

Nestled in the mountains of north-western Bosnia and Herzegovina, its industry, mostly lumber and mining, roared in the 1980s. Now, though, they’ve gone quiet. Officially, the Knezevo Municipality website notes two large companies working there, one now bankrupt; the other is an agricultural cooperative. The slow economy took its toll on town life, a fact that’s plainly visible. And when school‘s out, children and young people living in this little town have very little to do.

The Association of Youth Activists in Knezevo have been trying to fight the summer blues for young people each summer since 2010. “There were no sports events or cultural events where young people could get together so we began the association to move things forward, ‘’ shares Novica, aged twenty five, a founding member of the Association and organiser of most sporting events including a street race, basketball, football and  table tennis tournaments.

Photo Credit: Branka Raljic (19), Association of Youth Activists Knezevo

Once a year in July, for a whole week, this little town stirs to life. For seven years now, the Association of Youth Activists has been organizing a Week of Sports and Culture. All this time, we have worked on gathering the youth for sports events, tournaments, concerts, plays and workshops,’’ explains Mirjana, President of the association.

World Vision has been a part a part of the seven-year story, supporting the youth from this little town that are trying to make a change. Every year, this weeklong event focuses on a problem young people believe needs to be addressed. For the past several years, the chosen issue has been peer violence and bullying. ‘’Working with students and living in this town, we realized that people think a little bit of pushing around or teasing is normal, a sort of every-day behaviour,’’ shares Nikolina (27), a member of the association and a facilitator of World Vision’s Life Skills School.

The town of Knezevo is aging rapidly. Driven by the need for jobs, young people are leaving including those who have created the event during the past seven years, many of whom moved away for college and work.  Yet every year, they come back to their hometown and get together to organize the event to encourage the young people behind them to keep the village and the event thriving.

Photo Credit: Branka Raljic (19), Association of Youth Activists Knezevo

A theater play has also been included on the list of events during the Week of Sports and Culture.

‘’This is my home town, I love people here and I want to contribute’’ smiles Milana, an actress and a long-term volunteer explained during  a break from a rehearsal, ‘’We love their enthusiasm’’ adds her acting partner Sanela , also a long term volunteer.

 ‘’We’ve taken part in plays all over Bosnia and Herzegovina and it seems that the audience in small towns is always there in greater numbers”, says Milana.

There are concerns about the future of such a small town with limited opportunities for you. Mirjana is emotional about the extraordinary week they create each year. She is now 30 years old and she will no longer be able to be an active member of the Association, ‘’I honestly hope new generations will continue to work as hard as my colleagues and I have”.

Share Tweet

Related Stories