Skopje’s many voices
Culture and creativity combined in a Youth in Action programme, European Voluntary Service (EVS) project which sent nine volunteers to Skopje, FYR Macedonia; with a mission to not only create a monthly magazine, but also to play a part in healing division in the local community.
Macedonian and Albanian communities in Skopje usually lead very separate lives. The idea of Voices magazine was to bring them together to produce their own publication.
Voices was translated into three different languages; Macedonian, Albanian and English and was circulated to young people throughout the capital.
Throughout the project volunteers also had the chance to work with disadvantaged youngsters in the SOS Children’s Village and at the daily centre which was attended by Roma children. Children had the opportunity to participate in workshops such as music, photography and English classes.
Working with these disadvantaged children was often used as inspiration for some of the features in the magazine and gave volunteers an insight into some of the issues facing the community. “I was surprised to learn that there wasn't an integrated education system in the country, that many Albanians living in FYR Macedonia cannot speak Macedonian” says Christopher Fleming from Derry-Londonderry who was the UK representative on the project.
“I realised that Skopje as a city is not unlike parts of my own country, where there are two separate communities, whose religion and ideologies are diametrically opposed.”
This experience gave volunteers an opportunity to learn and to teach. Producing a lifestyle magazine improved their journalistic, design and publishing skills. However, the real experience came from bringing a community together, sharing ideas and teaching young children.
The European Voluntary Service offers young people (18-30) the opportunity to volunteer abroad for free, primarily in Europe, for a period of two weeks to twelve months.
For more information see: http://www.britishcouncil.org/youthinaction-programmes-evs.htm