The CyberBoxingZone News

Help Boxers in Kosovo

December 1, 1999

Fellow devotee of boxing,

I'm a Dutch aid worker who has spent 3 months amongst the Kosovar people, who have been through a horrible period of their lives, as you know.

While I was there I met a group of men who are doing the thing I like to do most at home: boxing. They showed me what happened to them in the past and problems they have to face now. When I returned to the Netherlands (Holland) I decided to do whatever I could do to support these people. If you might be able to help me out, please read on.

The Kosovo war might be over, yet international aid is something the Kosovar people cannot do without. Those who fled their homes during the onslaughts on their peoples are still far from returning to a safe and peaceful life. Upon returning from the refugee camps in Albania and Macedonia, many Kosovar refugees find they have no homes to come back to anymore and that living in post-war Kosovo poses many dangers. Mines are scattered over the country. Conflicts between the country's different groups persist, and government, police and healthcare are all improvised and improvising. It will take many years to rebuild a country wrecked by war, to reconstruct a society torn by terror and flight, and to restore a peace of mind shattered by traumatic memories of the war. It is safe to say that the need for humanitarian aid will remain for years rather than months to come, but the nature of the aid needed must change as well. Aid efforts fulfilling basic needs of food, medicine and housing have to be supplemented with initiatives to support a re-burgeoning community life. This is the premise of my project.

An important aspect of this community life we are trying to rebuild is sporting activities. Practicing sports is something that has been heavily disturbed the last ten or fifteen years in Kosovo. Still people have always tried, and are still trying, to build places where they can practice their favorite activities together. An example of this is the Gjakova Boxing Club.

Gjakova is a small town in the west of Kosovo. Twenty years ago a group of people in this town decided to create their own boxing club, the Gjakova Boxing Club'. For ten years there was a place for people to practice the sport they like to practice the most. Enthusiasm among the members led to good results in national as well as international matches. Unfortunately, this came to an end in 1991, when the dominant part of the population in Kosovo, the Serbs, decided to forbid the practicing of sports amongst these people. They loved this sport so much they decided to practice it in secret in a village in the vicinity of Gjakova, even though it endangered their own lives. This went on until 1997 when the risk became to great to continue. Now the war is over and the international community ensures safety for the Kosovar people. So, the people of the Gjakova Boxing Club have picked up where they left, trying to create a place for the local youth where they can release their energy. Fact is that almost all of the material has been stolen or destroyed during the conflict. There are not enough gloves anymore, so many kids practice with bare hands. This, of course, endangers their safety and limits their possibility to develop their skills. Also, the lack of teeth-protection sets bounds to their ability to set up matches.

Jumping ropes, professional clothing and shoes are absolutely absent in the center. Individuals have bought the little material that is present in the neighboring country Macedonia. But the shortage of money doesn't allow them to obtain more.

If you are interested, any help you could provide would be greatly appreciated. Materials, equipment, and safety gear would be of great assistance and financial aid is always of great value to our cause. If you are able to support these people, please contact me. Also, please feel free to pass this information on to any other concerned parties. Thank you, ever so much, in advance.

Wouter Beekers, Dutch aid worker for Balkan Sunflowers, International volunteer project to help the Kosovo refugees


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