If you grew up where there was 80 per cent unemployment, would you have hope for the future?
If you grew up as a girl in a patriarchal society, would you feel valued and affirmed?
If you grew up in a place where there was nowhere to play, would you vegetate in front of your TV or be tempted to get into trouble to relieve the boredom?
The Kosovan government has recently endorsed the work of a centre run by a BMS partner in the country. The centre is bringing hope, a sense of value and fun to the boys and girls of a minority people group in Kosovo.
‘A centre of excellence’ was how the local municipality's Director of Education described the centre when he awarded a certificate of recognition and appreciation for the impact its educational and play facilities has had on the community.
Preschool classes teach English to children and also instil life skills like washing hands and values like being kind to each other. It also hosts two after-school clubs, one for six year olds and the other for eight to ten year olds.
One of the Joint Project leaders, Layla, says that by teaching the children English it could help them when they grow up.
“There is so much unemployment. 80 per cent are unemployed. There are no prospects for young people so if we can give them a basis in English, it may help them when they get older to find work.”
Girls at school are second class citizens, says Layla, in a society where most are not expected to go to work when they grow up but rather get married when they are 14 years old. “Boys are princes that can do no wrong.” At the centre girls are treated as equals with boys which is helping to boost their confidence. “They are willing to try stuff now when they used to be upset.”
One child who attends one of the preschool classes was painfully shy. For the first year he would not speak at all, rarely getting involved in activities or make eye contact with others. Now after two years he is getting more confident, communicating a little in English and having more fun.
As well as the classes, the centre has a playground which is
the main place for children from the sixteen villages in the area to go and play - before it was built, children had nowhere else to go and spent most of their free time watching TV.
The team running the centre include BMS mission workers Layla, Holly and Toby from the UK and Dmitri and Daria, supported partner workers. A short term volunteer is helping them during 2013 and a BMS Action Team will joining them in the autumn for six months.
The centre, which started in 2010, is planning to increase its activities later this year to include more English conversation classes, sports and games clubs. They are in early conversations with the Director of Education to see how they can help support other kindergartens in the area.
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