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“Now we have new friends in the Region and together we can change things”

On 11 of February, in Tirana “Balkan Girl Power” exhibition, a project financed by Western Balkans Fund and implemented by Social Contract Institute (SCI) was launched. The project provided opportunities for more than 70 girls of 16-26 years old from Tirana, Skopje, Pristina, Belgrade and Podgorica to get to know each other and develop through photography, a shared vision of Western Balkans societies where women and girls play an equally active role with man and boys, in progress towards EU integration processes. During this activity the WBF had the opportunity to interview some of the girls from WB participating in the exhibition and got their impressions and experiences.

Q1 WBF: What are your impressions from this activity on the framework of regional cooperation?

Silviana Hysenaj, Pristina: My impressions for this project are very good and I think that projects like this have an impact on the improvement of regional relations.  Jovana Milovic, Podgorica: This was great experience, because give us perspective about the problems of our generation in region. Felis Miloti, Tirana: The activity at the prime ministry premises had to do with modern art. I liked the fact that there were Albanians and foreigners too. The exhibition brought together people from different part of the region and that was something very worthy.  Arbnora Memeti, Skopje: It was a good time to get to know and exchange experiences with girls from the region.

Q2 WBF: Do you believe that this experience has influenced on building better relations between the girls of the region?

S.H, Pristina: In fact, yes, actually now with some of them we are also virtual friends and the experience in this project remains one of the best experiences of my life. J.M, Podgorica : Of course, now I have new friends in Albania or Serbia, with same way of thinking, and together we can change things. F.M, Tirana : I actually do believe that this experience brought different relations between people. We exchanged cultures, we learned more about foreign cultures too. A. M, Skopje: A single activity in Albania does not believe it could affect building relations between the region, but the idea of ​​the project in general can have a positive impact. If this project is extended to other WB societies if the exhibition travels through all Balkans, believe that this would have had a positive impact on improving or building relationships among the girls in the region.

 Q3 WBF: What do you consider as the main challenges in this whole activity?

S.H: The main challenge for the realization of this project was to find the location where to take photos. J. M: Well I think that the biggest challenge was to accept the possibility for my work to be criticized by my colleagues and by the public. But in the end, that critics brings us progress. F. M: The main challenge especially for me was the fact that I had to show my art to the world. For a closed person it is not easy but in this experience it was very delightful. I learned to express myself and my art. A. M: I did not have a challenge in this activity for myself. I can only call it a challenge until the qualification for the selection of photos for the exhibition, and this is at the local level among the girls of Macedonia, while there was no challenge later on. It cannot be said that it was a challenging activity considering that the winner of the exhibition were declared ten girls in total!

 Q4 WBF: Once the activity is over what would be your message to other girls in WB?

S.H: My message for the other girls not just in WB but around all of the world is: being who you are, believing in yourself and fighting for your dreams no matter what, we are equal and we should be treated like that, our time is coming. J.M: We make great job, but this is just beginning so we must to continue. We cannot expect any progress if we only sit and wait for it to happen. F.M:  I would like to say that the activity was worthy for new experiences. Every girl like me that has fears to share their art and opinions should just express themselves. Everyone should try it. A.M: My message is to continue photographing in their manner and style. All the pictures were good and conveyed different messages. All the girls were wonderful and of course I am glad to meet them. If this activity is to be held this year too, I would suggest to all girls engaged in photography. Even it lasted a bit, it was a great experience I wish that this project will take a more serious course and certainly my desire is to travel through the Balkans.