The initiative has benefited the community by supporting and sharing New Year’s Happiness with children which are the most in need, yet which will become future active citizens. The Santa has brought great joy through visiting schools and homes in Kosovsko Pomoravlje enclaves.
Acknowledging the turbulent history of Kosovo*, the focus of this article is the project success story that hopefully will trigger an interest in you to explore, learn and support similar projects in the poorest countries of Europe. Kosovo has the lowest rankings in all indexes that analyse unemployment, GDP, corruption, security, social and other human rights, etc.
The project has been developed and implemented in the strategic cooperation with organization Children's Happiness (http://www.decjaradostgnjilane.com). The organization works in the field of improving inequalities and helping kids in Kosovo* since 2002. In particular, kids that lost family members in the war and/or live in a family with health challenges, unemployed parent(s), and other hard social and material situations. ESAA social grants program has been a perfect opportunity to help the organization in fulfilling their mission and vision. Thanks to the organization’s experience in similar projects, connections as well as the detailed understanding of the situation in Kosovsko Pomoravlje enclaves, the project has been implemented as a great success.
The main goals of the project were to tackle inequality issue in the local community and support those who are socially, economically, physically disadvantaged by creating a long-lasting positive social, environmental, and economical impact. All project activities such as visiting schools and homes as well as designing New Year’s gifts packages and presentations were prepared and implemented with specific and symbolic elements related to the EU and Erasmus+ values. Presentations content was related to importance of education and study abroad opportunities, languages learning, intercultural diversity and understanding, and hygiene.
The project helped children from different social and economic backgrounds and built a unique experience where everyone is appreciated, feels happy and shares the happiness with others. 100 kids and their schools, families and communities have been touched by the project. Over 20 school teachers have supported the project through helping in organizing presentations and sharing gifts packages together with Santa. The project also promoted environmental sustainability through packing gifts in recycled and reusable bags, and thus, highlighted the importance of protecting our natural resources and environments.
The following project objectives were accomplished:
- Reduce inequality by promoting the importance of education and giving fair access to it through the educational gifts and special messages;
- Improve livelihood of kids and provide materials that will help kids to develop their abilities (i.e. art, educational, cognitive, creative and cultural);
- Help improve quality education of the kids that are living in a very difficult social and economic situation;
- Give resources to the kids to have more possibilities to improve their education in order to become future active citizens;
- Enhance awareness of parents on importance of education and especially intercultural and diversity aspects;
- Provide an opportunity for kids to get to know a different cultures and countries through stories and materials provided in the gift package from countries that played an important role in the history of Western Balkans;
- Advance social equity and inclusion by helping kids that come from families who might not afford enjoying the happiness of the New Year and receive special gifts from Santa;
- Raising awareness of intercultural realities, through the specific gifts and presentations that have been prepared with the mission (such as books in English language, dictionaries, etc.). Thus, this project has given an international experience to kids, schools and their families that probably will hardly ever go abroad;
- Reduce educational inequality by providing children relevant gifts packages to fit the best their school and educational needs.
The project was initiated by Velimir Tasic, Ph.D., who was born in Kosovsko Pomoravlje enclaves, and who experienced the difficult situation after the ‘99 war. Back then, New Year and other celebrations were occasions for hopeful thinking to get better. With this background, he decided to make a project with the local organization and support kids on their way to becoming equal citizens. In this project, bringing together the dreams, hearts, and great will of contributing helped in improving the lives of those affected by the war and other challenges, and thus, together brought smiles to kids and their families as well as broader local communities. Furthermore, the project and cooperation opened opportunities to Erasmus+ students to organize other special programs in the future and leave their mark by giving children the chance to get to know an international environment and inspire them to become active and mobile citizens.
 This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo* declaration of independence (https://ec.europa.eu/neighbourhood-enlargement/countries/detailed-country-information/kosovo_en)
 Velimir Tasic, Ph.D., is the garagErasmus Sustainable Entrepreneurship and Professional Development Expert. He is also, ESAA CMS Board Member and Entrepreneurship Incubator co-founder. Velimir is the beneficiary of numerous international (i.e. Erasmus JoinEU-SEE and Erasmus+ SIGMA Agile) and national scholarships as well as student exchanges. You can connect with and find more about Velimir at, https://www.linkedin.com/in/velimirtasic/.