The Diaspora School in Kosovo is a five-day event that brings people from all over to bring about change in Kosovo.
Albanë Hoti, Agnesë Jashari, Besart Mataj, Naxhije Bujupi and Adelina Trshani made up “The Bus” initiative at the Diaspora School of Kosovo this past October. Despite being from different places, each member was united in their goal of promoting growth in Kosovo.
Together, they were able to create an initiative that challenges the mindset of child marriage in rural communities, specifically in Malisheva. To illustrate their goal, the team came up with the motto “Keep the pencil, not the ring.” Their objectives and dedication to education won them first place, along with a €6,000 grant.
Since then, The Bus has done a lot. The team has put together training events, marches, and other activities already.
Their first activity (pictured above) was a training event for high school students on human rights, democracy, local decision-making and youth activism. 28 females and 12 males from more than seven villages in the Malisheva region attended and gave back positive feedback. Herolinda Bytyqi from the Center for Social Work in Malisheva also attended and presented statistics of early marriages in the municipality.
Their next event fittingly took place on a bus. 50 high school students were invited to discuss the consequences of child marriage and the importance of education on a bus with The Bus. Many important figures attended as well, including: Shpresa Rama, the youth advisor at Ministry for Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS); Labinot Berisha, the Senior Human Security Officer at MCYS; Blerta Krasniqi, Chief of Cabinet to the Mayor in Malisheva; Besarta Kryeziu-Rama, the director of MCYS; and Shkurie Bytyqi, former member of the Parliament of the Republic of Kosovo.
The Bus also put together a tent in the park in the center of Malisheva. 30 volunteers attended and handed out brochures and fortune cookies to promote awareness in the municipality.
In March, the initiative put together a march in Malisheva to again promote their message to put an end to child marriage. Although the weather was not the best for a march, 150 young people attended.
Most recently, The Bus held a conference to discuss their mission, accomplishments, and more. Participants included Kumrije Kelmendi-Aliu, advisor of projects for informal education and youth involvement at GIZ, members of the GERMIN organization, representatives from high schools in Malisheva, members of the Kosovo Police in Malisheva, and many young people who joined the cause.
Overall, it is apparent that The Bus initiative has raised awareness and promoted meaningful discussions on education, child marriage, and gender equality. This initiative, along with many others, was all made possible through the Diaspora School in Kosovo.
You can follow The Bus on Facebook.
All photos provided by The Bus.