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.
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.
Posted By Donna Harati
Posted Jun 7th, 2009