Balkan Sunflowers involves young people and their families in social inclusion, increasing opportunities, peacebuilding, promoting intercultural collaboration and community cohesion in Kosovo and the Balkan region. Established in 1999, in response to the Kosovo war refugee crisis, Balkan Sunflowers has continued to work with the area's most marginalised people, particularly supporting education and creative enrichment for children and youth, advocating for and empowering minority communities, and using media as a tool for expression and social justice.
Learning Centers Network
The Learning Centers Network's four learning centers provide preschool, homework help, language learning, hot meals and school materials to 400-450 children per day. It is helping children to go to school, stay in school, and succeed in school. Full-time staff and more than 40 high school age tutors from the communities served help the children succeed as well as serve as role models for commitment to education and community service.
In a programme developed by the Council of Europe in various countries, Balkan Sunflowers has school mediators in 10 municipalities who work between families, schools, teachers, and learning centres to help keep children in school. They have supported registration of children in first grade, quickly getting children who have dropped out back into school, and worked with resolving issues that might alienate children from their school, and schools from the communities they must serve.
Making the Strategy Real
The government of Kosovo has adopted a Strategy for the Integration of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian Communities in the Republic of Kosovo. Nevertheless, the Strategy and subsequent action plans often have not made it to the municipal level and are not being implemented at the central level. Through this project we will have Strategy Advocates in 10 municipalities responsible to monitor municipal action, inform about the Strategy, facilitate creation of working groups, and work to persuade municipalities to adopt action plans to implement the Strategy and budgets for that purpose.
Support to Minority Broadcasting
Balkan Sunflowers produces a weekly report for inclusion in television RTK's Romani language broadcast Yekhipe. The reports feature aspects of Roma life in Kosovo. 2011 is the second year of inclusion in this long-term television magazine.
Great Films that Change Our World
In previous years with partner TV21, BSF has co-produced 66 weeks of the Great Films project, broadcasting on national television TV21 feature films including some of the finest ever made, on human rights, democracy and humane value themes. These films have been followed by panel discussions relating the themes treated to Kosovo realities. This created a high quality, interesting 3-hour weekly broadcast reaching tens of thousands of people. Balkan Sunflowers is preparing a new series for 2012.
Rolling Film Festival
"Rolling" shows films by and about Roma from around the world in Prishtina screens and in our "mobile theater" in venues around Kosovo, including community centers and high schools. Rolling on the Road takes films and lively teen-oriented discussions to high schools to involve Kosovo young people in looking at and facing the various forms of prejudice and discrimination.
Never Back Home
More than seven years in development, Never Back Home is a documentary about the Plemetina (Kosovo) IDP (internally displaced persons) camp and social housing buildings. The residents in this "former" camp fled their homes in the aftermath of the 1999 Kosovo war and ended up in former worker barracks under the smokestacks of the Kosovo B power plant. This film tells their stories in their voices. Balkan Sunflowers and co-producer Romawood are proud the film has been accepted for some film festivals - and are looking for more venues.