The day after I turned 16, I suddenly became aware of the political situation which my country, Macedonia and this region were going through. The Balkan region is a unique and interesting part of the world, starting from history, culture and political developments. In fact, the latter it has been known to be the most important topic of discussion everywhere you go in this part of the world. Especially, the youth are very affected by its development, a characteristic that I believe is very specific for the area. This, in some way, was a wakeup call for me. It was the time when I realized that I needed to do something. That I needed to contribute to change and learned that I can do it even if I do not join a political party.
I believe, that as youth it is important that we unite to show our society that change is possible, and it starts from us. Even if it means that we are doing seemingly simple tasks, such as, preventing people from throwing gum or plastic bottles on the street rather than in the trash can. Or, realizing that there are not enough trash cans around the area you live in, and simply writing a letter to the mayor requesting investment in some and, thus, set up more trash cans. Things like this can be a good start.
I first started helping my country and my region by joining non-governmental organizations and initiatives, an action which I suggest to all my fellows in the region. There are many associations dealing with important issues like helping communities to solve problems that affect them. I have been a member of several non-governmental organizations and civic associations for two years now and I regularly strive for all the interests that concern young people, and I feel fulfilled and satisfied because I know that I have worked for a purpose. Believe it or not, this is a good way where you can try and create a way of positive thinking and embody the ambition of a young person and invest in yourself and the society.
It is important that we as youth don’t fall in the trap of the so called "Balkan mentality" – where the only way to contribute is to join a political party and follow old politics. My experience has taught me that this is not true. You are able to change and influence change even if you join other organized initiatives.
The cure for the current lack of development in our region is our youth. We are the remedy for our countries and our beautiful region which we can help in a way that we ourselves imagine. Each one of us can individually contribute to changes, starting from the root of our mentality, our character and our way of thinking, and replacing prejudice, quasi-patriotism, and nationalism with devotion and compassion. By working for our country with passion and sincerity we can reach economic prosperity, a friendly environment, and security. Only then we can push this region further towards the European Union standards and create a better future for the generations to come.
Author: Jovica Jankovikj
Jovica is a young activist from Macedonia, who is passionate about youth policy, and environmental protection. Jovica, is the co-founder of the NGO Bezgrubrija, and is a member and activist for two NGOs, Youth Educational Forum(YEF) and YouthCan.
His passion about being involved in the community has been expressed though his participation in numerous activities organized within Macedonia and the Balkan Region. Some of the event he has participated include: The debate tournament EcoContest, EcoPatrol–NGO Zero Waste, Regional Youth Forum in NoviSad, and the 11th Euro–AtlanticCamp(REACT)etc.
Jovica, is a winner of the high school contest hosted by USAID for excellence in outlining a personal vision for Macedonia's future rewarded by US Ambassador to the Republic of Macedonia JessL. Baily.