Thursday, October 27, 2011

Out of the mouths of babes...

On Monday, we went to the Children's Home to run the Book Club. A group of 5 volunteers was working with the younger kids, while Jovana (below right) and I worked with 5 of  the older children. In between reading aloud from the books, and making bookmarks, some of the girls were asking me how old we are. When Jovana said she was 18, I told them they had to double her age and add 1 to get my age... make them work for it!

Once they managed to figure it out, Bozana (below left) asked "so are you married?". When I said "no" She said "You're thirty-seven and you are not married! That is a disgrace!" Out of the mouths of babes...and it shows you what the culture is like here too: she is just repeating what she has heard! But it is a very good thing that I don't have a problem with being single!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

End of Business Training...

One of the places I did take my camera in the last while was to the last two sessions of the business training course which we started two weeks before (see here for more details)...

Here are the three groups again, in action: Lavanda (Lavender): making hats:
Crveni (Reds) making a decision...
 And Originali (in negotiations with Sinisa from the Reds)
For the last two sessions I let Tanja do all the work (she is busy learning how to do this by herself, so it was necessary!) and she did a fantastic job:

Setting up the session:
And working out prices of products:
In between the two blocks of training all took part in the practical using a mini-loan of 10KM (5euro or R50) to make as much money as they could. Monika managed to make almost 500KM (250euro or R2500) selling jewelry! (she did admittedly sell mostly to family at an exorbitant price, so in the long term won't be able to keep it up!! But in the time frame she made the most money. 15 of the 19 who started managed to finish the course. All 15 of them got certificates. Here are Monika (left) and Radmila with theirs: 
Now many of them are writing their own business plans in order to get one of the three mini-loans available through our project. It will be interesting to see what they come up with!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Light and reflections...

So, I have been pretty busy lately, hence the non-blogging. And I keep forgetting to take my camera with me, or when I do, I forget to take pictures! Oh well...

I did get to take a break at the Brela Women's Conference (which is in Brela, Croatia - on the coast!) for 4 days, which was wonderful! I was so blessed by the ladies who came to help run the conference (from Pennsylvania) and also getting to hang out with some old friends was so much fun! (but no photos - sorry!)...

One of the great gifts we were given by the ladies was this painting by the artist (who is in their church) Richard Bollinger. It is a print, but a limited edition and I just happen to have print 123/450 which is quite sweet! It is based on Mathew 5:14-16 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."
I got back from the conference, and last week was a blur of activity: finishing up the business training course, continuing with Beginner's English Classes, taking the Children's home children to the library, starting up my English Conversation Classes. Besides coffees and hanging out with friends...:-) And I realised by the end of the week, how many people I had been in touch with. How many people I was shining for... And I know that it is not me, but only God who is shining through me! And I need to be constantly in touch with Him in order to shine His light and not my own.

I was having my quiet time of reading my bible and praying yesterday morning with my cup of tea. As I was holding it in my hands the light was being reflected in the surface of the tea: I got a picture of it:
I was just reminded once again that as Christians, we are all reflecting God's light into the lives of other people, wherever we are and whatever we are doing. What are you reflecting? Do people actually get to see the light in you, or is it shadowed by other things? I am challenged once again to be a good reflector of God. And to be His light and peace and HOPE to the people here.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Norwegian Cultural Evening

A team of four arrived from Norway yesterday in time to run a cultural night at EKC Ihtus. Literally, just in time! They took 8 hours to drive from Belgrade to Banja Luka (it usually takes 4-5 hours) as there were a lot of roadworks and different things which kept slowing them down. So, we were ordering Bosnian pie for dinner and frantically making waffle mixture in the hour before the program started:
Despite the torrential rain outside, there was still a nice turnout. The team put together a lovely program: including a drama about Norway and a power-point presentation. They also touched on the tragedy of the 22nd of July and shared how the Norwegians have responded. They shared how a young woman who survived the massacre on Ut√łya, in an interview said: ”If one man can show so much hate, think how much love we could show together”. And this has become the response of many Norwegians: showing love instead of hate.
Then it was time to enjoy the waffles with Norwegian brown cheese. Not everyone was convinced of the merits of brown cheese (including me!), but we did have a good time hanging out and enjoying the waffles at least.

Lastly, I got a picture of Suzana with one of the team (with the Norwegian flag on his shirt)...
...to show that she had painted a Norwegian flag on her nails: that is commitment!

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Business Training at Ihtus

This is the first BEST Business Training that I am doing at the Education Cultural Centre "Ihtus". It started last night and has three more sessions over two weeks (with a practical in between). There are 16 people participating and they got through the first session without much problem: Here I am summing up at the end:
I have help for the sessions from the lovely Tanja, here she is playing "Harry" and selling raw materials:
As usual, there are three groups: but I only got pictures of two of them, sorry: Lavanda
And Originali:
After the training, everyone has the opportunity to write a business plan and apply for one of our interest-free micro-loans and actually start a business!
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