By Pilar Lagos

Bujar

Name: Bujar Dujaka
Age: 23
City of Origin: Kodrali, Gjakovë, Kosovo
Project/Facebook page: Qendra Kreative Cermjan

It took me less than five minutes to realize that Bujar Dujaka is one special young innovator with a bright future ahead. He doesn’t speak English fluently and still agreed to hop on Skype for an interview. He asked his friend Zyrafete Berisha to translate for him. Zyrafete and Bujar met at ‘Peer Educators Network, ’ an NGO that promotes citizens to become active within their communities.

How did you hear about UPSHIFT?
Bujar Dujaka (BD): When Arbnore Berisha and Valon Nushi from UNICEF Innovations Lab Kosovo spoke at my school about the UPSHIFT Workshop, I felt it was the perfect opportunity to address a problem within my community and come up with a solution. I knew I couldn’t do it alone so I asked 3 friends to work with me: Valon Syla, Gresa Kurhasku, and Hyqmete Kurhasku.

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Bujar and his teammates. Photo: UNICEF

What inspired you to come up with your innovation/project for children/youth?
BD: Since elementary school, I have faced many challenges in every step I have taken towards gaining knowledge. Many generations in my community have had difficulties, and this is where I found the inspiration to make a change. I was born in Kodrali. A big problem there is the lack of integration of activities for young people in the community.

My friends and I identified problems such as weak infrastructures, long distances to and from the main the city, and a lack of libraries for reading. As a consequence, youth have been migrating from the region and the level of illiteracy among young people has increased.

To break the barriers in my community, my friends and I applied to UPSHIFT with the idea of starting a Creative Center, which would be something new for all the young people in our community.

What challenges did you encounter when you were trying to execute your innovation/project?
BD: Due to the excitement our group felt in implementing the project, we didn’t even notice many of the challenges we had. We really wanted to move forward with our project.

Thinking back, some of the challenges that we faced were the lack of electricity in the facility where we were working. We also worked in a very small space. Our school allowed us to use this space for an undefined period of time.

Who works at the Creative Center?
BD: Young people. We have a lot of young people coming from neighboring communities to the Creative Center. Some people enjoy being at the Creative Centre and decide to volunteer their time.

At the Creative Centre, there are activities for people from all age ranges. For children between the ages of 4-7, they learn the importance of loving and showing respect to others, how to build puzzles, and the names of the colors. For adolescents between 14-17, they receive trainings on violence awareness, how to write a CV and motivation letters, how to develop public speaking skills, and many other types of trainings.

What’s the best advice you’ve received and in what way did it have an impact in your life?
BD: Since the start of implementing our project, we have received many praises for the work we have been doing. The best praise we ever got was: “you are the generation of  change.”

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Brainstorming session during the UPSHIFT workshop. Photo: UNICEF

Thanks to the praises, we have worked hard and never felt tired. And thanks to the Creative Center project and to the Innovations Lab Kosovo, I am now part of many changes in my country. By becoming involved in many activities for youth, I have gained knowledge that will help me towards my future career.

After UPSHIFT financed their project, Bujar and his friends haven’t been able to find an organization that could finance the Creative Center. However, that doesn’t stop them from going on with their project. Young people are collecting money through fundraising activities to keep the Creative Centre active.

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