Voluntary work. The Norwegian embassy is a proud sponsor of the cleanup project “Let’s Do It Kosova” that took place throughout the country on May 24. The initiative has its origins from Estonia in 2008, where a group of enthusiastic environmental activists created a volunteer based cleanup model. The idea is an organized cleanup movement where, in one day, everyone who wants to contribute and make an effort to clean up the country will do so, within the same period of time, throughout the entire country. The project turned out to be a huge success and quickly spread over the world.
Ambassador Braathu in his right element.
Off with the white gloves and into the coverall. In the spirit of the Norwegian good old fashion positive attitude to voluntary communal, the Embassy’s presence and effort also during the cleanup was no exception. Coming from a background as a humble, country boy, Ambassador Braathu was definitely in his right element there he was, leading the way in the front with his faithful cleanup staff made out of embassy coworkers and staff from Innovation Center Kosovo. Together, the group headed for the Croat-Kosovar village Janjevo in the Lipjan municipality. In Janjevo they were met by a great, enthusiastic crowd of kids who almost considered it a sport running around the fields and streets of the village, picking up garbage and filling big, black plastic bags that were distributed by the organizers from Let’s Do It, Kosova. Another enthusiastic “cleaner” was the village own Catholic priest, Don Mate Palic, whom himself was born and raised in Janjevo.
Don Mate cleaning the streets with some local children. Photo: Hilde L. Sandvik
Plenty to go around. It quickly became obvious that the village suffered from having a poor system of waste management and it was not taken very well care of in this area in general. Abandoned land and property was being used as garbage dumps, there were in general much too few bins and places to throw out trash, and even if there were bins, one could never really know when or if they would ever be emptied by the garbage management companies. However, one street at a time, the optimistic cleaners worked their way through the village. In the beginning to the inhabitant’s great surprise, but little by little people joined the cleaning crew and showed great will to clean up and make their own streets and environment look nicer. Friends of the embassy from the village could inform that the village used to be very charming and well-functioning before the war, however due to a poorly run local government and also because many Croatians have abandoned the village, it never really returned to what it once was. The location and surroundings of Janjevo, on the other hand, is perfectly located in a quiet, green valley covered with trees and breathtaking nature. After the cleaning session, the ambassador discussed further potential projects for Janjevo with the priest and with the village leader, Enver Bikliqi. Renovation of the sewerage system and the channel running through the village would be a first priority.
All in all it was a very good day – and a lot of practical and necessary tasks got done. It turned out to be difficult to get ambassador Braathu out of his coverall, and he has even threatened to implement it as a new embassy uniform – We will see!