A cultural bridge

September 28, 2009

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    Drin Mulliqi/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Children from the local Turkish community perform a dance with candles at the Mercy Corps-sponsored "Promotion of Cultural Values" concert in the divided town of Mitrovicë/a, Kosovo. Photo: Drin Mulliqi/Mercy Corps

The city of Mitrovicë/a in Kosovo is very often described by the media as a city of trouble. The most beautiful bridge in the country — with the Ibar/Ibër River flowing beneath — divides this city in half. In the northern part of the city, the majority of the population is ethnically Serb while, in the south, the majority is ethnically Albanian. The river punctuates some of the still unresolved divisions within Kosovo.

However, a multi-ethnic concert brought people from different communities together to celebrate the International Day of Peace.

“I got the idea for organizing this concert because I saw the lack of cooperation between communities in Mitrovicë/a," said Marigona Bekteshi, the project manager of this community initiative. "Thanks to Mercy Corps and USAID who financed this event, we have managed to bring most of the communities that live in Mitrovicë/a together to share their cultural values.”

The concert — which was titled “Promotion of Cultural Values” — featured ethnic Albanians, Turks, Bosniaks and members of the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian community, who performed different dances, plays and songs from their traditional cultures. The concert was attended by more than four hundred people of different ethnicities.

As Mercy Corps continues to work to build confidence and links between communities in the city we hope that, before long, such events will have even broader participation and also include the ethnic Serb community.