Elizabeth Gowing

Ve-ēanta

nga  Elizabeth Gowing
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Njėzetenjė gra kanė themelue njė ndėrmarrje tė vogėl pėr shndėrrimin e ‘lules kombėtare’ tė Kosovės - qeset qė lulėzojnė nė ēdo fushė dhe ēdo arė - nė diēka mė tė dobishme dhe fitimprurėse.

Nėse ke qenė nė Mitrovicė kohėn e fundit, do tė kesh pa kafazė tė verdhė nė pikat mė kryesore tė qendrės sė qytetit. Ndoshta ke pa gjithashtu zonja me ēanta tė punuara bukur me grep ose me ngjyra prej njė lėnde qė e njeh.

Ėshtė nė projekt i ri udhėhequr nga OJQ-ja Lulebora me Danish Refugee Council (dhe me pėrkrahje prej komunės pėr vendosjen e kafazėve) pėr riciklimin e qeseve tė plastikės pėrmes grumbullimit, larjes, terjes, prerjes dhe… punimit me grep pėr njė krijim tė ri dhe tė mrekullueshėm. Kafazėt janė vendosė si pikė grumbulluese ku qytetarėt e Mitrovicės mund tė lėnė qeset qė pėrndryshe i kanė gjuajtė pėr bėrllog pėr deponitė, si mbytje e mjedisit natyror tė Kosovės. Pėrndryshe, ēantat janė mbledhur si lėndė e parė e vlefshme pėr njė projekt themeluar nė Roma Mahallė nė tetor. Njėzetenjė gra janė trajnuar se si tė punojnė me grep, me shembuj pėr produkte qė mund tė punohen prej fijeve tė plastikės, dhe kanė themelue njė ndėrmarrje tė vogėl pėr shndėrrimin e ‘lules kombėtare’ tė Kosovės - qeset qė lulėzojnė nė ēdo fushė dhe ēdo arė - nė diēka mė tė dobishme dhe fitimprurėse.

Kėrkohen shumė qese tė plastikės pėr prerje dhe lidhje pėr kėto produkte tė reja, dhe gjithashtu kėrkohet shumė punė. Gratė mė tregojnė qė mund tė merren me ēanta nė shpi nė mes tė obligimeve tė tjera me familje, mirėpo me punue kėshtu kėrkohet rreth tri ditė pėr me krye vetėm njė ēantė. Gratė prodhojnė njė varg dizajnesh – disa prej shablloneve tė huazuara prej jashtė, dhe tė tjera prej imagjinatės. Krijojnė ēanta, kuleta, shporta dhe tepih tė vogėl (tė dobishėm sidomos pėr banjo se arsyeja pse plastika ėshtė kaq e dėmshme pėr ambient, ku merr 400 vite para se tė asgjėsohet, ėshtė ēka e bėn tė papėrshkueshme nga uji). Kanė qenė tė zoja me pėrdorimin e ngjyrave, me dizajne njėngjyrėshe ose dyngjyrėshe dhe – nė rastin e njė ēanteje pėr ndejė shumė elegante – prej thasėsh tė bėrllogut. Mė tregojnė qė bile kanė eksperimentue me shiritat e kasetave dhe videove pėr punė mė tė imtė. Mė pėlqen shumė ideja pėr njė kuletė pėr iPod tė punuar prej shiritėve tė kasetave qė nuk mund t’i ndigjoj mė.

Gratė punojnė nė mėnyrė individuale nė shpi por gjithashtu mblidhen tri herė nė javė pėr disa orė me ba muhabet dhe me punue sė bashku. Nė Angli raste tė tilla kur gratė ulen sė bashku pėr punėdore janė quajtur ‘stitch and bitch’ (‘qepi dhe ankohu’) por kėto gra janė serioze dhe mė tregojnė pėr pėrkrahje psikosociale dhe trajnim pėr shėndet qė kanė marrė prej projektit kur janė mbledhė ēdo javė.

Ēantat qė punojnė janė me ēmime tė volitshme, katėr ose pesė euro, tue u mvarė prej madhėsisė dhe sa ėshtė kompleks dizajni. Kanė qenė nė shitje nė panaire tė ndryshėm ku kanė marrė pjesė gratė, edhe janė tė disponueshme pėr vizitorė nė qendėr nė Mahallėn Rome nė Mitrovicė. Gjithashtu mund tė blihen nė dy dyqane nė Mitrovicė, dhe gratė shpresojnė m’e zgjerue projektin, sidomos kur bėhet moti mė i nxehtė, dhe myshteritė kanė qef ēanta tė papėrshkueshme nga uji me marrė me vetė te deti. ‘Mundemi me shkue pėr njė shetitje pune nė Durrės dhe m’i shitė nė plazh’, sugjeron Bukurija, liderja natyrore e grupit, tue qeshė. Ajo ėshtė prej Mahallės Rome dhe ka punue nė projekt si vullnetare pėr me zhvillue shitjet dhe mundėsitė pėr marketing pėr tė gjithė. Ajo thotė qė nuk i pengon qė punon mė shumė sepse ‘ajo qė punon fiton’. Secila grua merr pagesė vetėm kur ėshtė shitė njė produktė qė ajo ka punue vetė, dhe kjo inkurajon punė tė kujdesshme dhe tė palodhshme – dhe krijon njė dilemė morale pėr mua, tue provue me zgjedhė ēka me ble derisa mė vėzhgon grupi i zejtareve xheloze. Unė ika me gjashtė ēanta tė ndryshme, tė gjithė tė punuara prej njė lėnde qė pėrndryshe kishte qenė pjesė e deponisė sė bėrllogut. Kurrė mė parė nuk mė ėshtė dukė kaq e bukur plastika.

Elizabeth Gowing ėshtė autorja e Travels in Blood and Honey; becoming a beekeeper in Kosovo (Signal Books, 2011). Gjithashtu ajo ėshtė themeluesja e OJQ’sė The Ideas Partnership, tė regjistruar nė Kosovė me punė nė projekte arsimore, mjedisore dhe kulturore. Mund tė kontaktohet nė theideaspartnership@gmail.com

When plastic is fantastic

If you’ve been in Mitrovica recently you’ll have seen bright yellow cages in strategic locations in the city centre. You may also have seen women swinging classy crocheted handbags or tote bags in funky colours and made from a strangely familiar material.

It’s a new project being led by the NGO Lulebora with the Danish Refugee Council (and the support of the municipality for the placement of the cages) to recycle plastic bags by collecting, washing, drying, cutting and… crocheting them into new and gorgeous creations. The cages have been set out as collection points where the citizens of Mitrovica can leave the plastic bags they would otherwise throw away to landfill, choking Kosovo’s natural environment. Instead, the bags are now collected as valuable raw materials for a project set up in the Roma Mahalla in October last year.  Twenty one women have been trained in how to crochet, shown examples of products that can be made from crocheting plastic yarn, and have set up a small enterprise turning Kosovo’s ‘national flower’ - the plastic bags which bloom in every field and across every piece of waste ground – into something useful, and income-generating.

It requires a lot of plastic bags to be cut and knotted into these new uses, and a lot of work. The women say that they can get on with the crocheting at home in between other obligations with their households and family but working like this takes about three days to make just one of the bags. They produce a range of designs, some following patterns they’ve borrowed from abroad, and others using their own imagination to create shoulder bags, purses, baskets and floor mats (particularly useful for the bathroom because of course the feature which makes the cancer of plastic so toxic to the environment, where it takes 400 years to break down, is what makes it waterproof). They have been clever with the colours they use, sticking to single tone or two-tone designs, and – in the case of one particularly chic evening bag – using old black bin bags. They tell me they’ve even experimented with cassette tape and video tape for finer work. I love the idea of an iPod pouch made from old cassette tapes I can’t listen to any more.

As well as working individually at home, the women also come together three times a week for a few hours to talk and work together. In the UK such chances for women to work together on their handcrafts and have a gossip have been nicknamed ‘stitch and bitch’ sessions, but these women are serious, telling me about the psychosocial support and health education they’ve received through the project when they’ve come together each week.

The bags are reasonably priced, at four or five euros, depending on size and the complexity of the design. They’ve gone on sale at various handcraft fairs where the women have exhibited, and to visitors at the centre in Roma Mahalla. They’re also available in two shops in Mitrovica, and the women hope to expand the project, especially as the weather warms up later in the year and customers will want to have waterproof bags to take to the seaside with them. ‘We could go on a work trip to Durrės and sell along the beach,’ suggests Bukurije, the natural leader of the group, with a smile. She is from Roma Mahalla and has worked on the project as a volunteer to develop sales and marketing opportunities for them all. She says she doesn’t mind putting in the extra work because ‘the person who works most gains most’. Each woman only gets paid when a product she has made personally gets sold which encourages hard work and careful craftsmanship - and a moral dilemma for me trying to choose what to buy as I’m watched carefully by the group of jealous producers. I walk away with six different bags all knitted and knotted from a waste product that would otherwise be thrown away. Plastic has never been so beautiful.

Elizabeth Gowing is a founder of The Ideas Partnership, a Kosovan NGO working on educational, cultural and environmental projects. She is also the author of Travels in Blood and Honey; becoming a beekeeper in Kosovo (Signal Books, 2011). She can be reached at theideaspartnership@gmail.com

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