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Granit Sadiku: Empowering Rural Youth Through Activism

November 2, 2023 | Thursday Ten years ago, Granit Sadiku, born in 1992 in the village of Balaj in Ferizaj, attended a workshop on youth engagement and citizenship activism. This workshop focused on the transformative impact that youth can have on their communities.

This experience inspired Granit and other volunteers to establish Rin’ON, a dynamic youth organization that bridges the gap between global aspirations and local actions. Based in Ferizaj, Rin’ON started as an informal group, formalizing as a non-governmental organization in 2017.

The name Rin’ON is derived from the word “rinia” (Youth) and “ON,” signifying engagement.

A cursory look at their webpage reveals a plethora of activities encompassing environmental initiatives, sports, arts, and nature trips targeting various age groups. Notably, these activities predominantly involve youngsters from the rural areas of Ferizaj, a region where activism is often overshadowed by city-centric endeavors.

“There are dozens of activities that have made an impact,” Granit said.

For him, activism has been transformative. He completed his elementary and high school education in Balaj, where the notions of community and citizen engagement were distant concepts.

“When I learned about citizen engagement and its effect on the community, it was a pivotal moment in my self-discovery,” he reflected.

Granit points out that while urban areas, especially the capital, often teem with activities, rural youngsters face challenges participating.

“The barriers — travel, family permissions, road safety, among other factors — deter their involvement,” he explained. “That’s why it’s crucial to engage in these areas and foster their personal development.”

Over the years, Granit has cultivated a network of activists who understand the essence of citizen activism and recognize the significance of being community change agents.

One particularly impactful activity, as highlighted by Granit, has been the organized movie nights in Ferizaj. These events, where films are screened followed by discussions, are especially meaningful considering Ferizaj lacks a cinema.

Such initiatives have rallied numerous volunteers eager to contribute. Granit believes that a larger group can exert more pressure on municipal institutions.

Additionally, Rin’ON has spearheaded initiatives like the Volunteering Week, inclusion programs for children with Down Syndrome, awareness campaigns, and fundraising events.

Granit’s accelerated personal growth through activism also allowed him to witness the development of others in the field. From Rin’ON’s efforts, other community engagement groups have blossomed in Ferizaj. Many of these volunteers have even been approached to join local political parties or have become municipal assembly members.

“The influence is palpable. For decision-makers, numbers matter, and it’s evident when they commit to supporting us,” he said.

Recently, Granit led a project named Rri’ON (Stay On), funded by the “Volunteering Grant” from the Resource Centre for Civil Society in Kosovo and co-sponsored by the European Union in Kosovo and the Embassy of Sweden in Prishtina. This project saw the involvement of 40 young individuals from Balaj working on community-based projects. Granit perceives this as an opportunity to decentralize activism from urban to rural settings.

The program’s objective is to equip the village youth with knowledge, values, and skills through various activities, emphasizing critical thinking, communication, and leadership.

“Youngsters will get an opportunity to identify and address community problems, thus aiding in solutions or at least alleviating the issues,” Granit said.

The ultimate goal? Sadiku envisions a future where powerful youth groups exist in every village,  ensuring that more youngsters understand their rights and potential.

“If every village fosters empowered groups, we can drive significant change in the future,” he concluded. FULL ARTICLE

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