When activism replaces criticism, outstanding results emerge

Author: Sladjan Tomic

One of the worst election turnouts in the elections held on Sunday speaks of the apathy of our society. Faced with numerous problems, citizens are apparently increasingly resorting to criticism without action, even going to the polls. However, there are no results from empty words without action.

The activist from Janja, Elvir Ibrisimovic, professor of history at the Secondary Vocational School in Janja, the Secondary Music School in Bijeljina and the Agricultural and Medical School in Bijeljina knows this well.

Seeing that the secondary school in Janja is faced with a constant decline in the number of students due to: emigration caused by the bad economic situation, poorly regulated transport due to which students from the south of the Municipality prefer to study in neighboring Serbia in Loznica, and due to the unjustifiably bad rating of the school, he decided to try to change a discouraging state.

“Understanding the serious danger that the Vocational High School in Janja may lose its status, and Janja lose one of the two educational institutions, I decided on my own initiative to contribute to the improvement of the school’s work and its promotion, so that it becomes one of the prestigious and desirable schools in this part of Bosnia and Herzegovina”, says this history professor for the Local Works.

This undertaking was not at all easy, and it meant that the fight had to take place in several directions. First, he decided to connect with business people in the diaspora, who are originally from Janja. He succeeded in that. In cooperation with them, several offices were renovated and equipped, and the school was also promoted in the programs of TV Podrinje, where he worked as an editor and host in the period 2019-2022.

His proactivity was also recognized by other colleagues who decided that they too could give more to the school where they work and to the entire local community. He now includes students in the activities he implements.

“I am currently preparing projects in which, through the ecological section and the Red Cross section, students will regularly engage in socially useful works in the local community. In this way, the school will be promoted in the local community and more widely as a carrier of socially useful activities,” says our interviewee.

Ibrisimovic is also active in the Association of Citizens “Eko zeleni Drina” in Janja, a non-governmental organization that was created with the aim of spreading environmental awareness and a culture of responsible behavior towards nature.

Although it was founded in 2007 by Amir Aganovic, the organization was inactive for years, until last year when a new Board of Directors was formed with new founders. Since then, this association has started working actively and very ambitiously to raise environmental awareness and create preconditions for the development of tourism in Janja, especially on the Drina River, in order to eventually motivate entrepreneurs, primarily the diaspora, to invest in this area. The most visible steps are those related to maintaining cleanliness and cleaning green areas in their local community.

“Thus, during 2021, we undertook the cleaning of the Janja River bed on four occasions, planted around 300 spherical acacia and sweet chestnut trees, and arranged the first park in the center of Janja. We plan to continue with new rows of trees and afforestation of Janja this year and next. The management board of this environmental association, whose president is Amir Aganovic, and I as the vice-president, consists of nine people,” says our interviewee proudly.

Their commitment to a cleaner local community was recognized by other locals, so more than 1,700 people supported them in their work, and in a short time the Association gained enormous popularity not only in Janja, but also in the diaspora coming from this area.

Our interviewee fulfills his obligations at school and the environmental association with great pleasure, so in his busy schedule he found space to work at the R.A.M.E. Scholarship Foundation.

It is a foundation whose establishment was initiated by him, after analyzing the situation with a shortage of staff. There is a shortage of many occupations, and one of their missions is to finance high school and university students to be educated for deficit occupations.

The goal of the Foundation is to help train and provide staff who will be available to potential business investors in this area.

“The first scholarships and support for the Foundation came from successful business people from the diaspora with whom I made contacts in order to realize this idea. They are Rusmir Canic, a businessman from the USA, Adnan Ramic, an entrepreneur from Sweden, and Muhamed Nurkic, an entrepreneur from Germany (all from Janja). Therefore, the Foundation in its abbreviated version calls and bears the initials of the names of these people and my name as well. (FSSU R.A.M.E.). As a support, the RAME Foundation should provide support for generations, which in the coming period will lead society in the direction of improving life in these areas,” explains Ibrisimovic.

Everything that is done in Janja is not only declarative and short-term, but sustainability plans are made.

Thus, this foundation does not only want to finance and monitor students during their education, but will also try to provide them with work engagement and make them part of a system that should finally bring some progress in society.

Ibrisimovic says that his activism has been going on for two years, but that he has only just begun. Especially now that, mainly through promotion in the TV Podrinje program, he raised awareness of the importance of contributing to the local community and awakened hope for a better tomorrow.

“I always wanted to contribute to the community and make life better in various areas of social life. Things like that have always made me happy. Happiness or spiritual satisfaction after achieved success is the best salary and lasting value, of course if these are the right values ​​for you. For years, I thought that the contribution to society through similar projects could and should be realized only through some government institutions, where I did not have the opportunity to do”, says Ibrisimovic.

During the interview for the Local Works, he recalled his activist beginnings.

“After many years of waiting for a better future, and realizing that the situation in our country is becoming more and more difficult, I decided to jump into the fire and with my own activism, with the cooperation and help of friends and like-minded people, initiate actions in several fields. This time it is in the field of education and ecology. My involvement in the school and the Foundation was self-initiated, and I was introduced to the story in Association of Citizens “Eko zeleni” by my friend and activist Amir Aganovic, owner of the Eco Camp restaurant and president of the Association. For some, such an engagement is crazy and they probably wonder where I get the energy from. I find my energy in the desire that one day I will not be lonely in my environment due to emigration. I want to encourage people by personal example to stay and fight. The second motive is that I have always loved to build and create. It is simply not a challenge and the meaning of life to be in the middle where everything is already built. I guess that’s why I came from Belgrade to Tuzla, and then to Janja.”

After two years of social activism, he managed to encourage others to take action, to get started and create a competitive atmosphere – who will do faster, better, and more for their local community.

“Today, I have the feeling that people are simply competing, who will do more good deeds in the local community. There are people here who have been active before, and there are also those who are in these waters for the first time, improving lives.”

He does not want to take the credit for the achieved results by himself. Ibrisimovic says that he is supported in all activities at school by the team at the R.A.M.E. Foundation – Rusmir Canic, Adnan Ramic and Muhamed Nurkic; Association of Citizens “Eko zeleni”- Amir Aganovic, Sead Kavazovic, Hadzija Sakib Turkusevic, Zekerijah Karjasevic, Nadza Hajdukovic, Ilijaz Hodzic and Mersiha Ibrisimovic.

“I mention all these names because they are known heroes in Janja. In addition to them, there are hundreds of people who directly support and help every activity for the benefit of society. The engagement of all those people is the best answer to your question. People are starting to open up, to show their nobility and willingness to contribute in their own way to the creation of a better society,” says this activist.

Ibrisimovic refutes the thesis that an individual cannot do anything and proves that they can really initiate changes and the entire local community to do something for the improvement of the community.

“I believe that we should stop spending time and energy on dissatisfaction, criticism and finding fault with others or the system. It is important to start working and believe in what we are doing, and the results will certainly come and will be very visible”, concludes our interviewee.