In Kosovo, multi-ethnic activities were high on the agenda of the U.N., and we were able to participate in two camps for children, one summer and one winter, in the beautiful Shar Mountains that form the border between Kosovo and Macedonia. Our responsibility was to supply fun training for the children in the form of meaningful theater, interactive songs in both Serbian and Albanian languages, games, and other activities that would help to integrate the children. The goal was to encourage the children to participate whole-heartedly in the activity without regard to the other children’s ethnic group. There were about 200 children each week, and they were divided into smaller groups of about 30 and wore different colored caps in order to identify which group they belonged to.
We brought several of our trainees to help us with both interpreting and animation. They did great. In fact the U.N. overseers voted them best teachers at the camp in spite of their young ages (16-17), much to the chagrin of the secular teachers who had come for the purpose of helping train the children, but ended up spending most of their time sitting in the lounge smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee at the expense of the organizers. There was a bit of jealousy as a result, and our young people were even challenged as to whether they should have been allowed to attend due to their age and not having yet turned 18. But their zeal and enthusiasm more than made up for their lack of years.
The Ravioli Circus
One spring we received a message via our website from two international drama students who were studying in New York City, a boy from France and a girl from Hungary, who wanted to come during the summer to do charity clown shows in Kosovo villages. They were looking for someone to take the lead in booking the shows and organizing their schedule, and we were happy to help them. They called their show the “Ravioli Circus”, which incorporated a clown routine with magic, as our team took care of the interactive songs and games. They had learned quite a few of their lines in both Serbian and Albanian, and also used Italian during their show, as the girl played “Mama Ravioli” with a big pillowed tummy, and the boy her son, Giovanni, who towered over his small-statured mama. They did quite well, and kept the children in stitches regardless of whether we were playing in the Serbian or Albanian area, in the center of Belgrade or a small ethnic village. We did not have any sponsorship to cover the costs, but the Lord supplied everything we needed, be it food, lodging, or transportation.
It’s one thing to study drama and acting, but quite another to actually go to a war-torn foreign country and perform for traumatized children who had just recently experienced the horrors of war. This young couple returned to their studies inspired and rejuvenated after having spent 3 full helping to change young people’s lives.