Donna Harati

Donna Harati (Women in Black in Serbia): Donna spent the 2007 and 2008 summers working in Zambia with Project Concern International, and helping a peer mediation program for at risk youth in Zambian schools. Donna also taught English in Mauritius through Learning Enterprises. At the time of her fellowship, Donna was pursuing a degree in Cultural Politics with a focus on social justice from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. While at university, she also worked with incarcerated adults and court adjudicated youth through Georgetown’s Center for Social Justice. After her fellowship, Donna wrote: “I was faced with questions I did not know even existed. If my experience in Serbia taught me anything, it was that being complacent is simply not an option.”



Leskovac- Recap

07 Jun

In order to involve WIB members who are not near Belgrade, WIB holds network meetings in different parts of Serbia. This past weekend, we traveled to the town Leskovac in Southern Serbia for a network meeting focusing on anti-militarism. The weekend was full of new experiences and insights for me, and I was really inspired by how passionately invested all the members were in learning more about relevant issues and in strengthening their network.

Most of the WIB members from Belgrade traveled in a minibus, but they were short a few spaces, so a few of us rode in a car. The car belonged to Katarina who works for a Swedish ngo that provides financial and other types of support to WIB in Serbia. Driving in Serbia is a trip. Car trouble, no signs and one way bridges with two way traffic made for a memorable ride, but the highlight for me was a construction worker who was drilling in the middle of a lane that was still in use- the cars just kind of swerved around him.

Thankfully, we made it in time to join the WIB street action that was taking place in Leskovac. The performances I described in an earlier post took place here. The group was extremely colorful and loud. After the “building block” performance, everyone marched around the town and stopped to carry out the caterpillar performance and a performance with an army parachute that had been decorated with peace and anti-militarism words and signs.

WIB in all their street action glory.

WIB in all their street action glory.

Each box represents a conflict in the world. Stacked on top of each other, they represent the hierarchy of the military.

Each box represents a conflict in the world. Stacked on top of each other, they represent the hierarchy of the military.

After the street action, we all stopped at the offices of Women In Peace, the partner organization of Women In Black in Leskovac. I don’t think I’ve mentioned this here yet, but in Serbia, everyone smokes. EVERYONE. According to Stasa, the cancer rate in Serbia has increased by 300% in the last 15 years. She smokes too. I’m probably going to have second-hand smoke withdrawal when I get back to the U.S. Anyway, stopping at the office doubled as a smoking break. After that, we were on our way up a beautiful mountain to the hotel where the weekend activities took place.

I was pretty overwhelmed by all the new faces surrounding me, but everyone was unbelievably kind to Simran and I over the weekend (Simran is my partner Advocacy Project fellow). One woman even gave us some branches of wild strawberries during a workshop.

I hope the pictures and accompanying captions below will give you a better idea of the weekend. I plan on writing about more specific aspects of the weekend in future blogs.

Yovena, a WIB activist, holds out the "candy" she made for the street action. Each piece of candy is wrapped in a piece of paper with a question about the military on it. A lot of people stopped by and asked for one, so it was a successful way to get people's attention. Yovena is a super interesting person. I will write more about her and her tattoo later.

Yovena, a WIB activist, holds out the "candy" she made for the street action. Each piece of candy is wrapped in a piece of paper with a question about the military on it. A lot of people stopped by and asked for one, so it was a successful way to get people's attention. Yovena is a super interesting person. I will write more about her and her tattoo later.

An activity at the first workshop where everyone wrote down the first word that came to mind upon hearing the word "militarism" on a post it note.

An activity at the first workshop where everyone wrote down the first word that came to mind upon hearing the word "militarism" on a post it note.

A workshop activity where everyone took a piece of paper out of a bowl and decided whether the word on the paper would fit better under feminism, anti-militarism, or both.

A workshop activity where everyone took a piece of paper out of a bowl and decided whether the word on the paper would fit better under feminism, anti-militarism, or both.

For the final activity, everyone stood in a circle and threw balls of yarn at each other while shouting a word that they thought accurately described the weekend, creating a veritable web or network. Simran and I spent a few hours rolling the balls of yarn, so it was cool to see them used in such a creative way.

For the final activity, everyone stood in a circle and threw balls of yarn at each other while shouting a word that they thought accurately described the weekend, creating a veritable web or network. Simran and I spent a few hours rolling the balls of yarn, so it was cool to see them used in such a creative way.

Posted By Donna Harati

Posted Jun 7th, 2009

2 Comments

  • Laura Snavely

    June 12, 2009

     

    Donna, I am really enjoying your blog! I’m especially fond of the photos you are including–they really make a difference for the reader!

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