In the period from 28.08.2020 to 09.09.2020, 4 events were organized within the frames of the activity “Traveling Cinema” in the rural areas in the villages of Kamenjane, Neprosteno, Vesala and Vratnica.
The purpose of the events was to promote the video “Shara Mountain – Future National Park” (https://bit.ly/2Rx20Rm) and through an informal conversation to introduce the population to the benefits of declaring the national park. Promotional material (protective masks and bags) was distributed at all events and the whole process was discussed with the population.
The first event in the village of Kamenjane was organized in the place Te Dushku or “At the Dabot”.
This place, before February, 2020, was a landfill, but through a great initiative, engagement and investments of the local population and the local community, it turned into a very nice picnic place and a park where many citizens visit every day. The venue and the projection van attracted an additional number of locals (in addition to the previously informed and invited) to stay on site and watch the film, attended by over 150 locals. The event was covered by the local RTV Kiss & Menada who created a special article (https://bit.ly/2FBHpc3) for their diary, but also for several national televisions and media, such as Telma (https://bit.ly/32wPY0V) and others. .
Guests at the event were representatives of the Association “Center for Investigative Journalism SCOOP-MACEDONIA”, Skopje who used the event to do more interviews with people directly involved in organizing the event which will be part of a documentary on the values and process of proclamation of Shara Mountain as a national park.
The second event in the village of Neprosteno was organized in the yard of the elementary school “Ekrem Frog” which was attended by over 100 locals, most of whom were young. A short video of the activities and interviews with locals was recorded at the event (https://bit.ly/3hvCjvm). There were also 10 representatives from hunting and logging companies from mixed ethnic groups who wanted to join the discussion and who are mainly against a national park in this area. All their requests were recorded and transmitted to the competent institutions, and also they were invited to participate in public forums and hearings where all issues will be opened and discussed in details.
At the third event that took place in the village of Vesala in the yard of the elementary school. “Besa” which is located in the central area of the village was attended by about 60 inhabitants. Although Vesala is a small village with many expatriates, we were positively surprised by the attendance of the event and the interest of the locals. The locals were positive and interested in declaring Shara Mountain as a national park, but they wanted more investments and thus creating new opportunities for this area. The non-declaration of Shara as a national park will further aggravate the already small opportunities and difficult living conditions, which in turn will continue to contribute to the increasing frequency of relocation of residents abroad.
The fourth and last event of the series “Traveling Cinema” which took place in the yard of an old cooperative in the village of Vratnica was attended by about 50 residents. The event was filmed by a representative of Deutche Welle, who had previously filmed the natural beauty of Shara Mountain. The locals are interested in declaring Sharr Mountain a national park to finally stop the destruction and usurpation of nature that is taking place enormously in these areas. They hope that with the proclamation of a national park, the construction of new hydropower plants will finally stop once and for all, which do enormous damage to biodiversity. But they want to be involved in detail in the whole process and to know in detail what are the benefits, and what are the restrictions and losses of this national park in all its zones. During the long discussion with the citizens, most of them told about their long battle from 2013 to 2019 to stop the construction of hydropower plants on the river Rakita in which they were left literally alone, often with a human shield to fight against power plants and construction companies to stop the construction of hydropower plants.
The next events, planned for the end of September, are forums with local people and affected groups which will be attended by experts on several topics such as: Agriculture and pastures, forestry and hunting, water and tourism. These forums will answer all questions and inform the population in detail about the opportunities in the future national park.
TIFF ODA was in charge of the technique, sound and screening of the film, which made the screening in a unique way with a van converted into a traveling cinema. The screening took place in the yard of the elementary school. “Ekrem Frog” which is located in the central area in the village of Neprosteno. The place and the van for projections attracted additionally more locals (besides the previously informed and invited), especially young visitors this time to stay on the spot and watch the movie. A video was recorded during the event and short statements were taken from locals for opinions on the process of declaring Shara Mountain as a national park. Promotional materials from the project were distributed to all attendees – protective masks and bags, labeled with the logo of the campaign and the organizations that support the event.
The event was opened by Metin Muaremi, President of the Center for Education and Development – CED, who presented the whole process of declaring Shara Mountain as a national park, supported and in cooperation with all institutions and organizations involved in the public campaign (MoEPP, GEF, UNEP, GIZ , MES, Friends of SHARA ..), as well as the next planned activities. After that, the video “Shara Mountain – future national park” was presented, which was watched with great attention by over 100 attendees.
In the informal conversation, they demanded that the external borders should be changed and that the villages of Neprosteno, Varvara, Brezno, Tearce, Jelosnik, Vratnica should not be included. According to their opinion, the most destroyed zone within the frames of the planned activities is in Tearce and Vratnica.