Harmony Hero Awards: Celebrating Youth Peacebuilders on International Youth Day 2023

(Pristina, 10th August 2023) – On the occasion of International Youth Day 2023, RYCO Local Branch Office in Kosovo*, in close cooperation with the German Embassy in Kosovo, recognized and honored young individuals who have significantly contributed to peacebuilding processes, through the establishment of “Harmony Hero Award”. Nominations from all individuals and organizations who knew young heroes actively promoting peace and harmony in their communities in Kosovo and beyond were received in 5 different categories for which different respective experts have been invited to evaluate the nominations.

We are thrilled to announce the distinguished winners of the awards:

Valentina Aliu, 27 year old, Obiliq & Jelena Bulatović, 26 year old, Gracanica, for Community Engagement
Agon Rexhepi, 22 years old, from Pristina, for Advocacy and Activism
Erblina Bunjaku, 19 years old, Pristina, for Innovative Initiatives
Antigonë Isufi, 23 years old, from Vushtrri, for Education and Research
Mila Mihajlović, 17 years old, from Lipjan, for Art and Creativity

Each winner of the Harmony Hero Awards has received a symbolic monetary prize of 500 euros in recognition of their exceptional contributions to peacebuilding. This prize aims to support and encourage the continued efforts of the awardees in promoting harmony and peace within their communities. Additionally, the winners have been presented with a prestigious trophy and a certificate of recognition during the award ceremony.

The Harmony Hero Awarding ceremony gathered around 100 young people and stakeholders in the field of youth and education in Kino Armata, Prishtina on 10th of August, with the aim of celebrating together the achievements of young people following a diverse agenda filled with speeches, movie screening, award dissemination and concert show of a young local band.

The event was inaugurated by the Head of the Local Branch Office in Pristina, Ms. Krenare Gashi-Krasniqi, she deeply thanked the nominees and the winners especially.

“Thank you for making us believe that peace is not just a beautiful theoretical concept that one can find in speeches and different writings, but that peace is a possible reality with extraordinary individuals like you. It is inspiring how you use your talent, knowledge and skills as tools to build bridges of cooperation and dialogue among communities that you represent”.

Furthermore she added that RYCO is very pleased to have received nominations for and from young people of all communities living in Kosovo, and that this an added motivation to keep up with this award in the upcoming years.

Ms. Dorotea Deshishku, RYCO GB Representative and Advisor to the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, thanked, congratulated the winners and reminded them that these awards are also a responsibility.

“Through initiatives such as community engagement, advocacy, innovation, education and art, for which they are being rewarded today, young people have not only the opportunity but also the duty to contribute to their communities as agents of peace and sustainable development”.

She noted that there is a lot of work to be done and that RYCO has tremendous potential in facilitating young people to direct their eyes to the future, in order to help them become more inclined to learn and understand the past in a healthy way.

Mr. Christian Böttcher, Head of Culture and Press at German Embassy Pristina, reflected on the importance of the hard work put in by the awarded heroes.

“Let’s reflect on the significance of your endeavors. You are the torchbearers, lightning the past towards a better future. Through RYCO and your individual initiatives you are creating opportunities for dialogue, understanding and progress. Young awarded individuals, I urge you to persist in your pursuits as your work has a significant impact. To RYCO, thank you for being a driving force in this journey and to all of your presence here tonight your commitments and dedication are truly commendable. Let’s move forward with the shared vision of a more harmonious and united future for the Western Balkans”

Before announcing the winners of Hero Harmony Awards, all participants had the chance to see the screening of the movie “I Have Never Been on an Airplane” by Redon Kika. Screening of this movie has added to the conversation around peacebuilding and youth engagement. It showcased a different aspect of the challenges and opportunities young people in Kosovo encounter, helping event attendees reflect on the multifaceted nature of their efforts to create a more harmonious and connected society.

Erblina Bunjaku, winner of the Innovative Initiatives category, reflected back on the movie putting emphasis that growing up in Kosovo has many challenges, however it is inspiring for her to see and be part of those that are putting in the work to reform the future of young people.

As per the award, and innovation as a tool to peacebuilding and inclusion, she emphasized:

“Innovation knows no boundaries and limits, and everyone, every young person, regardless of their ethnicity or background, deserves to be part and witness the wonders offered by science, technology, arts and mathematics”

The event was concluded by the lovely tunes of ZWADA’s music. The Local Branch Office in Kosovo will stay true to this aim by promising to organize this event every year, in order to remember and celebrate young people’s energy in making our community a better and more peaceful place to live. This shows the strong dedication to keeping this celebration alive, and to recognizing how young people have the power to create friendlier and more harmonious communities for everyone.

*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence.


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