“I find it meaningful that every Wednesday I can enjoy socializing, entertainment, and conversations with the women at the Association. We swap recipes, medical herbs, as well as fruits and vegetables from the garden. Lately, the main topic of our gatherings has been the condition of the compost – whether it’s too dry, too wet, or if the worms have gone somewhere. Wednesday has become my favorite day of the week precisely because of these discussions, along with Rabija’s delightful coffee”, says Nermina.
Author: Selma Žuljević, Communication officer
After retiring, Nermina moved to Mostar from Tuzla. Regular meetings in Gnojnice, organised by the Women’s Association “Vrba”, have helped her to settle into a new environment, find new friends and (for the first time) get acquainted with agriculture.
“Since I lived in an urban environment in Tuzla, I had little exposure to agriculture. I had never planted anything before coming here. With their guidance, I’ve learned how and when to plant certain crops, how to tend to my garden, and ultimately how to compost”, said Nermina.
Training on composting (© Selma Bešo)
Project Mostar – Spaces that Activate and Rejuvenate is working with the Women’s Association “Vrba” to foster a sense of community and belonging for people just like Nermina.
“We want the citizens of Mostar to jointly overcome obstacles and share civic, social, and economic life within the city. We are proud to support organizations, like Vrba Women’s Association, so women like Nermina feel included within her community,” expressed Vladimir Ćorić, Project Manager at People In Need.
The “Waste is not Garbage – Learn How to Compost!” project, implemented by the Association through the Mostar Project, originated from the community’s need for organic compost for the fruits and vegetables they cultivate. With the financial support of the UK Government and People in Need, as the project implementer, the residents of Gnojnice, who had been previously composting grass and kitchen waste in makeshift compost piles, have enhanced their competencies and raised awareness about managing organic waste in Mostar and throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“In our community, there is significant interest in understanding how the entire composting process works. I am confident that, driven primarily by the pressing need, we will organize training sessions for other residents in the near future. I hope that, alongside compost bins in the settlement, we can also obtain a recycling machine for plastic containers and cans. I believe that this addition would truly enrich the efforts we put in this project”, mentioned Nermina.
Special occasions celebration in Gnojnice (© Women’s association “Vrba”)
For a native of Tuzla, it is always a special pleasure to represent the Women’s Association in municipalities throughout the country. She is very glad that the Association has active cooperation with other organizations throughout the country, but also with institutions in Mostar. Some of her fondest memories are associated with a visit to the Women’s Association in Lukavac, mainly because it is a town not far from her birthplace.
“Last year, cooperation with the City [of Mostar] resulted in a free product display space at the Advent and bazaar on the occasion of the “Ramadan in Mostar”, as well as at various other fairs. Through the symbolic membership fees we pay to the Association, we have made it possible for us to go to fairs outside of Mostar, and make contact with other associations throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Nermina tells us.
If she had not met other women from the Association, most of Nermina’s days would not be filled with laughter, travel, and different activities.
“I am often alone at home because my neighbors are mostly young women, still able to work. The coffee I drink every Wednesday at the Association is my favorite, and at the same time the best coffee of the week, precisely because of the conversation and entertainment that accompanies it,” Nemina tells us.
Trip to Lukavac (© Women’s association “Vrba”)
One of the Association’s future goals is to attract young women, who are unable to come to their activities due to obligations at home, through activities for their children.
“There are three or four young mothers in our community that have three or four children, each. They would love to come to our activities, but they are not able to because they do not have a mother-in-law or a mother to take care of their children. Each of us would be happy to babysit their children, free of charge, so that they can participate in some activities or simply rest with a coffee in our premises,” Nermina tells us.
Nermina’s backyard and agricultural products (© Nermina Baraković Ipša)
Nermina’s favorite activity through which the Association involved children was the art workshop with colored ink.
“The technique we chose involved children blowing into a straw to make certain shapes on paper. The shouting and laughter that was present when mothers brought their children was replaced by silence. It was so quiet, that when the mothers came to pick them up, they thought that their children had gone home early,” recalls Nermina with a big smile on her face.
The Associations’ concern for the locals is also reflected in hospital visits, collection of money for medicine and/or other supplies for the sick, but also in marking those happy moments in the village such as birthdays, weddings, and new arrivals.
“Their support when I first came here delighted me. I did not believe that twenty unknown women could get along so well and bond with each other. I think that this sense of community remained only in the rural parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina,” asserts Nermina.
Nermina – who came to Mostar because of the climate, but stayed because of the support of the women from the Association – says that through the activities she tries to justify the enormous trust that the women from the community gave her, and to show at least a fraction of the hospitality that she was given to the women who joined after her. During our conversation, Nermina gave special recognition to the president of the Association – Medina Gosto – whom she claims to be not only a wonderful person, but also a great leader, organizer, and speaker.
“Every time I come, I say ‘Thank you’, because they have made my life after retirement fulfilled”, says Nermina.
Project Mostar- Spaces to Activate and Rejuvenate is a three-year project, which seeks to improve public space and its use in Mostar through activating citizens and supporting citizen-led initiatives that contribute to shared civic, cultural and economic life in Mostar. The project lead is People in Need (PIN), a Czech non-profit, non-governmental organization that provides humanitarian and development aid in more than 30 countries around the world. Four other organizations are equal partners in the consortium: Everyday Peace Indicators (EPI), Youth Cultural Center Abrašević (OKC Abrašević), Local Democracy Agency Mostar (LDA Mostar) and NEŠTO VIŠE (NV). The Project is funded by the Government of the United Kingdom.