PROJECTS / Reunion 2001
Monday, 20-01-2020
Wednesday, 2018-01-17

20 Jahre Campus15

Monday, 2015-12-28

Summer Camp 2016


Wednesday, 2015-04-22

Reunion 2015


Wednesday, 2015-04-22

Teach to reach, train to maintain – 21st century competencies

A Project organized by our partner from Croatia. More information you can find here.

Reunion 2001

15 days in Bosnia-and-Hercegovina (BiH)

40° degrees Celsius – the air conditioning is fighting a futile battle. It is not the first futile battle in this area. Currently – it is July 15th, 2001 – we are rolling into Mostar with a group of 56 young people, 17 of them from the Netherlands and Germany, the rest of them from BiH. Destructions left and right of the road. Six years ago, the houses here were fired at until living in them had become impossible. Empty window holes, the plaster almost completely shot off – trees are growing were TV sets used to stand.
The journey to this place was long. It started three years ago, when 24 young people from BiH came to Walberberg in the Rhineland, Germany, to get in contact – sometimes for the first time – with their peers from the same country, maybe even from the same city, but from different ethnic groups. The same was repeated in 1999 and 2000 with different groups of young people, and the famous small seed of hope was sawn.
And now, almost 60 participants and 15 counsellors from the CAMPUS15 summer camps of the past three years are travelling through the country, and help other children from BiH with their own work. A premiere after the Civil War.
The first serious thoughts were given to a possible reunion during the summer camp 2000. Back then, as well as in the years before, the participants argued that it was not enough to only meet up in Germany once. It was obvious that if a reunion could be organised, it should take place in BiH. Many of the young people from BiH, however, feared that their parents would not allow them to participate if only one of the two entities (Federation and Republika Srpska) would be visited. It became clear that a lot of sure instinct would be needed to approach BiH and its special conditions. Thus, a plan was developed to carry out project work in both entities and connect it to a round trip and some time for recreation. The common project work for both sides was supposed to add to trust and confidence building and to show that one has to lay on hands in person in order to improve things.

July 9th, 2001, Sarajevo, the beginning:
The local counsellors and a small part of the German team are already here, waiting for the participants from BiH to trickle in. The first arrives at 11 in the morning, and so it continues till the evening. The Dutch and German participants and counsellors land on Sarajevo airport in the afternoon. During the whole day there is laughter, hugs, spontaneous or sometimes tentative recognising, loud shouting. There is gaggling in the whole house, and the positive energy is almost tangible. What this energy can do, the coming two weeks will show.
In Sarajevo, we plan to renew and steady a playground in the garden of the centre for blind children. For this task, 45 cubic metres of sand are available, which has to be transported with shovels and wheelbarrows. Before, however, there is a lot of weeding to do, and car tires have to be buried underneath the seesaws. The edgy concrete bordering of the playground is replaced by oak tree trunks, which are more comfortable and suitable for the blind. On the early afternoon of the first working day, the bigger part of the sand mountain has disappeared.
Which is good, because already on the next day we move on to Derventa, a small city in the Republika Srspka, the Serbian part of BiH. During the war, Derventa was time and time again a bone of contention between the warring parties. The journey their leads past the former front-line, still easily recognised by the many destroyed buildings. In Derventa, there is also a garden of a school for the blind expecting the group. However, it looks completely different from Sarajevo.
The garden in Derventa was a mud desert, covered completely by weeds and useless for the blind and handicapped children. Therefore, Robert Krengel, a landscaping expert from Siegburg connected with CAMPUS15, flew to BiH in February 2001, surveyed the area, developed plans and created a task list. Thus, starting on paper and turning into reality during the course of the summer, a garden emerged, which is exciting for both the seeing and the blind, for pupils and teachers, for children and adults.

One path leads to the new playground in smooth bends, but it is not just a way of getting from A to B. Its surface varies – thin wooden planks are followed by pea gravel, next are chunks of wood, then round lumbers, sawdust, and finally brash. An outdoor classroom was created, high flower beds for teaching and learning to plant flowers and herbs, and, of course, the playground. The front garden, the “business card” of the school, is also now shining in new brightness.
All this work became possible, among others, through the vigorous support of the CIMIC (Civil Military Cooperation) company of the German Bundeswehr – an SFOR unit dedicated solely to the organisation (biddings, awarding of contracts, material acquisition, surveillance and final acceptance of works, accounting) of reconstruction projects. Thus, it was guaranteed that the funds provided by CAMPUS15 would be spent according to the plans. We would like to mention in particular the tireless efforts of the Captains Hundhammer and Strauch and of Master Sergeant Schneider, who addressed even abrupt changes with an unbureaucratic flexibility and were unmatched in their enthusiasm.
What can one do in a garden like that in Sarajevo with close to 60 young people? The area for the outdoor classroom had to be excavated further. Such work is achieved through muscle power rather than machines. Flower beds had to be dug up, stones, sherds, nails and similar items removed, and the enclosure had to be painted. The front garden fence had to be cleared with sand paper and ground coat had to be applied. And the young people got to work. There was digging, sorting, sanding, painting, many had blisters on the fingers and still kept on shovelling. In the evening, they were unanimous: That was a hard day. And many said: It was a hard day, but a meaningful day.
An untrained body can scarcely sustain this kind of hard work for many days in a row. Moreover, one main idea of CAMPUS15 is that participants should have a chance to get to know the people and the country better. Therefore, we were soon off to Banja Luka for a day, which was spend discovering the city, with local participants doing the guiding for small groups. From Banja Luka, where the war has left few traces, the journey went on through marvellous landscapes down to Mostar. And while Sarajevo and Derventa were shocking in a way but had signs of reconstruction everywhere, Mostar simply made people angry. Angry at this utter absurdity of the war, the senseless destruction of the historical old bridge, the displacement of people. Some of the ruined houses still gave you an idea of the beautiful buildings that once used to stand there. Now, only debris and traces of devastation. The dividing line through the city is still the same as at the end of the war. Along the “Bulevar”, nothing but completely destroyed houses. In the Croat Western part, high up in the mountains, visible from far but also from the Bridge, stands a newly erected, huge white cross. It is the place were the guns were standing that destroyed the bridge during the war.
The days of work in Sarajevo and Derventa were followed by the part of the reunion that everyone had anticipated the most: three days at the beach in Neum. Here, our people recovered from the work in the gardens, cured blisters on the hands, were creative in „body painting“, and competed in teams of five during the „water olympics“. A day trip to Dubrovnik gave a hint of the rich historical past that characterises this coastal region.
"What do you think of our country?“ Against the background of the omnipresent destruction, this was one of the most frequently asked questions to the participants of Central Europe. And the answer to our friends from BiH was: “Why did all this have to happen?“ Up to this day, there is no conclusive answer to that question.
The last few days we were back in Sarajevo, finalising the works there, and then on July 23rd, the goodbye came. But does it have to be goodbye for good? The participants aged 16 to 20 have understood one thing: They are no longer children, but young adults, and it is up to them to maintain the contact among each other. As the CAMPUS15 demonstrates, they are successful in that, and the Reunion 2001 is not over for a long time yet.

(Veronika Vollrath, September 2001)

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