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Center For Balkan Cooperation LOJA

Center for Balkan Cooperation LOJA

The Center for Balkan Cooperation LOJA is a non-governmental, not-for-profit organisation. Loja is an organisation based in North Macedonia, in Tetovo. Loja is a centre that promotes multicultural values, promotes art, education, and culture, and supports activism in civic society. Loja is an organisation that works for society and for the youth to be educated in the best way! We were honoured that we could do an interview with the Executive Manager and Culture Department Manager, Mr. Bujar Luma.

You are welcome to read what he told us about Loja!

  • I am Bujar Luma. I am from Tetovo, where I live and where I develop my life and my work daily. I am a parent of two boys! My professional vocation is being a theatre director, but lately, I work in the centre “Loja”. I am the founder of this organisation and I’m trying to put in some work techniques that can be used for civic activism. I have done various jobs in our country as well as outside the country, normally with civil society.

Mr. Luma highlighted that Loja, this year, marks its 23rd anniversary since its foundation.

  • Initially, Loja was a theatre show. During the time when I made it, it was a struggle. I think that theatre or art, in general, can be used as a tool for the community, and for the better life of our society. At that time this show was called “Loja in the rich yard”, at that time we had two refugees from Kosovo who were in scenography and they involved us in studying the conflict. So with this show, we started going to camps where there were children, and there we realised that art was more than art which can be used even in very difficult situations, for example dealing with children with trauma. When we made it, we thought let’s make a long-term organisation that would work to change things in Macedonia, which was then in an atmosphere of war.

Mr. Luma says that it was a tough beginning but at the same time a very fantastic beginning.

  • In the field of education – he added – we have a very special program that is held with 5 universities of pedagogy in R. North Macedonia where we train future teachers who in the future can work in environments that are ethnically mixed, to be prepared to work with students in schools. We also hold about 15 seminars a year, and about 200 students attend these training sessions.

Loja also organises a film festival In the field of culture. Mr. Luma shared some interesting events coming up in the future:

  • This year we will have a conference for social activism. We will have a screening of the film about human rights in cooperation with the Berlin film festival. We have many types of activities.  Then we have exchanges with Erasmus and other partners, the volunteers who commit to Loja during the year. We cannot pay them, but the payment we can make is to enable them to participate in these types of activities.

This year, Loja is promoting the 11th edition of the film festival, which is very successful, with quite a large audience. It is held at the former museum of the communist party here in Tetovo.

  • There are short experimental documentary films – said Mr. Luma – which come from many countries of the world, there are not only films, there are also events after parties we also have workshops, and training. It has a very good atmosphere and is usually held in June. – One of the last activities was the screening of the film about human rights from the festival in Berlin, one of our partners is the German embassy and they themselves have assessed that it should be shown, they thought that the appropriate place should be Loja. When it comes to everything that empowers our society, we allow the possibility of cooperation in these circumstances, and this cooperation has also happened.

Mr. Luma said that Loja is open to anyone who is interested in their activities.

  • Anyone who is interested can come here and register and we call them when there are events. The fact that you register does not mean that you become a volunteer, it is a 1-month period that our staff observes you if you are interested in cooperating, whatever it is based on interests, some engage in the film festival, some in the cinema, so there are many possibilities.

When asked to tell us about the core values of Loja, Mr. Luma said:

  • The goal of this center is to create a new generation that can replace us, and then when it comes to further events and activities, we will continue with the training of students, with the Watch Out festival, the idea is to put these programs on a Balkan level. In Kosovo, Albania, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia. We will also have a very good conference for civic activism and multicultural education, resident artist, there will be exhibitions, there will be many exchanges this year, especially in Italy, Germany, Spain, Greece, so there will be many activities this year.

His concluding remarks were:

  • Tetovo is a very difficult city with few opportunities, but the youth can create the opportunities themselves. I wish that in the future they will be the ones who will make decisions for the city and the state!

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