Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Resistance

Dubioza Kolektiv wrote a song for the DOSTA! movement-- rap as it was first intended, to speak about the problems of the people! of the neighborhoods! of the streets! Below is the English translation of the lyrics (not a totally literal translation, but good enough!)

Mobilize. Organize. Resist.

Dubioze Kolektiva, feauring Frenkie, DOSTA!

Too long they've decided for me which God I believe in. I won't give up, I'm going to act. They leave me only suppressed tensions, while the truth has three different versions. It's echoing, echoing...

This is the best system there is. Bread and circuses, you're neither hungry nor full. This is the worst system there is. Gentlemen, you will not always be hidden behind walls. You are a special breed, you're the cream of the crop. Because of you, the anthem is silent, our anthem is mute.

Bosnia dear mother, Herzegovina, you will always be the land and we will be the manure. If you are fed up with everything and you want a better life, take control and have an opinion. Be the king of your own mind. The system will come apart, stitch by stitch. Rise up and fight, move toward freedom because this train going to fall into the water. You're quiet and that pleases them. Be a fire in which the system will burn. Is there life after democracy? While the three same parties are always in power, the elections are like nationalist sheep corrals, staged disputes, always the same bull.

"Trilemma", dilemma of the system, it seems that there's no solution, business is the only motif, our government is dedicated to dozing. Hey no problem, no problem. Every vote you give is important, in this game they are always mine, yours, ours... The three are the same just with a different slant, the government belongs to them and it smells like a lie, I know it, and you know it!

Now I say Enough! now I say Enough, I'm going to fight because that's all that's left, Now I say enough, this is the last bit of pride left to me. Now I'm saying Enough, we're going to the plateau because that's all that's left to us. Now I say Enough!

What is the DOSTA! movement?

Come and Say, ENOUGH!
Activist movement of citizens, DOSTA!

DOSTA! is an activist movement of citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina which fights for the dignity of citizens of BH, is involved in activating and engaging people in solving the acute problems of society, and desires to create an active and aware citizen opposition in BH through public expressions of civil dissatisfaction, active and direct participation of greater and greater numbers of citizens as well as directly impacting the socio-political processes. The movement does this through the engagement of groups and individuals, as well as organizations and institutions which share the values and principles of the movement.

-inert and passive citizenry
-critically low level of citizen participation in public life
-lack of strong and independent activist citizen initiatives in BH
-ignorant and unaccountable political machine
-alarming social and economic situation and the great number of problems to be resolved
-critical situation of at-risk populations in BH
-feelings of powerlessness among citizens of BH to ever be able impact the decisions which concern them
-poor communication of citizens with the government and politicians generally

Goals of the DOSTA! Movement
-To create and amass an engaged and credible citizen-led initiative for the public expression of civil dissatisfaction
-Empowering the role of citizens in the decision-making process and strengthening citizen participation
-Recognizing the key social and economic problems of BH citizens and engaging the public in solving them
-Affecting the accountability of the political machine and institutions in all parts of BH and all levels of government.
-In a creative, engaged and uncompromising way, developing civic awareness about the power of active and massive participation through reacting to current problems and insisting that they be solved

Rules and Principles of Work
-the movement must be independent from all political parties and initiatives, as well as from nongovernmental organizations and any kind of institution
-members of the movement must be disciplined and committed
-the movement must be open to all types of people, interests and activities, insofar as they are in accordance with the goals and values of the movement
-the movement must be public and accessible to all
-the movement does not make any kind of compromise in any situation with the government or politicians, rather it uncompromisingly insists on the fulfillment of its own goals and demands
-DOSTA! is a movement of BH citizens and is simply open to all
-No activity of the movement may be in any way contrary to the values and goals of the movement

-Social justice
-Awareness of citizens
-Absolute power to the voice of the people
-No nationalism or promotion of national interests

Friday, April 24, 2009

Monday, April 13, 2009

What Easter means

Happy Easter! Christ is risen, He is risen indeed.

I had a wonderful Easter. After the service, everyone in the congregation stayed to have cake and coffee together and then in the afternoon, K and I went to the Roma community for our Sunday school program with kids. (We're a bit behind the church calendar in the storytelling though-- yesterday Gabriel was just telling Mary she is going to have a son.)

On the way to the Roma community, there was a large group of the girls waiting at a bus stop, so we were able to just pick them up on our way and take them back to the community-- and then they came to play with us. I had never seen them out like that before on a Sunday-- their parents had sent them out early in the morning to the Croat side of the city to beg after all the masses. We left around 2:30, so they had come from begging after the noon mass. This group of girls rarely beg (they are always working to collect plastic bottles from dumpsters), and they were embarrassed and wouldn't tell us where they had been.

Their teenage brothers, who can't beg because they are too old, came to the church service in the morning and had cake and coffee with us. They can't beg, because as K said, "They look too scary, people would be afraid that they would rob them." They couldn't beg from the rich Catholics on the west side of Mostar because they are too old, and so they could come to our evangelical church service on the Muslim side of Mostar. Life here can be so complicated...

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Tino's Gasp

I had a great moment the other day in the Roma mobile school. We have been reviewing the dozen or so letters that the students have already learned (I, T, O, C, A, etc) but it didn't seem like the letters were sticking in anyone's head. We would do a whole worksheet on the letter T (as a review, T was already taught before), but then five minutes later no one could remember how to write the letter T.

But while I was working with Tino to write the word "biciklo" and told him, while sounding it out, that the third letter is "C", he started to say, "how do you write---" and then let out a gasp and wrote the letter C himself. I think he was shocked to realize that he actually knew how to write it, and frankly, so was I. That was the best thing that happened to me all day.



Monday, April 6, 2009

Thought for food

Because of the political crisis in Mostar (no mayor, thus no city budget for 2009 and no city funding), people are going hungry. Especially at the two municipal soup kitchens, which are operating at 30% of capacity. (There are two, of course, one for each side of the city...)

So Pokret Dosta! Mostar decided to organize a humanitarian action, placing volunteers in three of the major shopping centers in the city and asking people to buy a few food items for donation as they went about their own shopping. It was fascinating to see who gave-- often elderly, retired people with little money gave the most, whereas many wealthy people and religious people didn't give anything. But at least there was equal representation-- a woman wearing a big gold cross and a veiled Muslim woman both turned up their noses at what we were doing during my volunteer time.

All in all however, it was entirely heartwarming-- we collected probably about 2000 KM worth of donations, in a city in crisis, where many people don't have much money. Personally, I was also really moved by the Dosta! crew-- everyone is studying or working or has kids and other obligations-- and yet they all spent the whole day volunteering their time to do this. We had no idea how much work it would be-- the most tiring part is sorting and counting and dividing into packets all the different types of food after standing all day in a shopping center!

An sidenote-- one of the local politicians used this opportunity to try to get publicity for himself, and sadly someone in the media decided to play along. A candidate for mayor donated some food (he owns a company that sells dried meat-- and which hasn't paid its own employees in three months) and a local journalist waited out front for a long time and then as soon as he came, rushed over and took a photo of him giving the food-- very much as though she had been waiting for him all along! The Dosta! group which organized the whole event is not even mentioned in the article, only this politician. Even worse, this woman is a widow, her husband was a wonderful local poet who died recently, and just two weeks ago she had to close the bookstore that they used to run together. So likely she took a bribe to get this photo-- but she's a single mom, so maybe she was in desperate circumstances herself?

Of course, the final touch to this whole story--- *I* am in the photo!! see article below.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Mostar transformed

Someone made a You-tube video with pictures of Mostar from before the war... Required watching for anyone who lives in Mostar now. I knew the city had changed a lot, but I really hadn't imagined what it looked like before... It was less depressing actually for me to see the war photos, because at least the city looks better now than it does then. (For those of you who haven't been to Mostar, compare with the photos of today's Mostar that I posted in November when I first arrived.)

The words at the end say, "Why? Don't let it happen again!"