7Arte is excited to share the story of Lirika Raça and the organization Balkan Green Foundation. This is an article that emphasizes local movements on climate and environmental issues in the country of Kosovo, part of the “Showcasing the Unheard” project that is organized by YEE (Youth and Environment Europe).

Lirika Raça is 25 years old, she has studied “Environmental and agricultural management” at International Business College Mitrovica (IBCM). As part of her studies, she has completed two internships, one in Kosovo and one in the United States of America. She expresses that both these experiences have been fundamental for her career development. After completing her internship in America, she has participated in several trainings abroad regarding climate change and environmental interventions, and then she started working at the Balkan Green Foundation, where she continues to work as a Project Coordinator.

Her motivation to be part of the Balkan Green Foundation has roots in the field in which they work and the quality of their work. “In Kosovo, unfortunately, it is difficult to be part of the market that deals with environmental changes and there are very few organizations or institutions that work in this field, so this has been a challenge at the beginning for me; finding a job in the field for which I studied.” Lirika states that her beginnings in the Balkan Green Foundation were neither difficult nor easy, as there were many things which she started to learn from there, for example the more detailed management of the project and then the specifics of the project in which she was involved. What made her work there even easier are her co-workers, who have always been ready to help her with new knowledge.

Lirika began dealing with climate issues from high school around 2014, first contributing in 7 Arte with voluntary work and then with various trainings around the country also in this field, and later with studying in this specific field, thus developing also in the academic aspect. In one of the trainings held in the Czech Republic, she was a representative of 7 Arte. When asked about what kind of barriers she feels that stand in the way of activism and social protests in Kosovo Lirika responded: I don’t think there is any specific barrier for organizing protests in Kosovo, but what is missing is the seriousness of dealing with these protests as well as the environmental problems themselves.

We have written laws that are very good, but there is a great lack of implementation and this also affects the awareness of individuals about these problems. This can have an impact in the demotivation of young people and then the lack of will to organize protests thus forgetting various problems that we face every day.

Lirika points out that the past events have been affected by the situation in Kosovo, because the same problems were there before and still continue to exist and very little has been done to fix them, in fact they have worsened. There are some changes and new rules, but they have almost no positive effect because they were introduced very late or they haven’t come into force yet.  Lirika witnesses every day the deficiencies in primary things, such as waste separation or the lack of trash cans on the city streets. Regarding this, in her perspective young people have a key role in raising awareness about environmental issues because it is easier for this information to be shared among people of the same age.

The issue of raising awarness can be solved in different ways, such as voluntary work, various trainings, concerts, artistic and cultural activities, which can be something attractive for young people, but at the same time serve as a way to increase awareness on environmental issues.

When asked how she is experiencing the impacts of the climate crisis in her local area she states that unfortunately, the situation is getting worse, being influenced by the pollution from thermal power plants, which is a continuous problem and which is even more pronounced during the winter period. “It is known that as part of the solution to this problem, a donation was received from the EU for changing the filters at the thermal power plant, but 3 years have passed and nothing has been done in this regard, thus affecting the ranking of the health of the citizens of Kosovo. Another problem that I see especially in my neighborhood is the uncontrolled burning of coal for heating, where this coal is bought from uncontrolled sellers and is the worst quality coal that pollutes the air in the neighborhood where I live”.

For Lirika, her motivation is the beautiful nature that surrounds us, and the will to see it stay that way and not go towards destruction. “Also, everyday problems serve as a mean to do better so that others don’t have the same problems created from people’s behavior and personal benefits by going against nature and the world in general. Another very big motivation for me is the injustice that is done to different countries of the world, one of them being the African and Asian countries that are sacrificing nature, homes and most importantly health in a way that other wealthier countries have everything ready for consumption and ego.”

Lirika’s message for the future generations is to preserve the environment and improve the wrongdoings that have been left by past generations, so to leave a better and cleaner world for future generations because in her opinion we are doing injustice to others by letting the earth come in this condition.

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