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After hours, UN Volunteers paint Blind Society centre in Pristina
14 May 2003

Pristina, Kosovo: Donating their time on Saturday, 10 May, 25 UN Volunteers painted the outside walls of the Blind Society centre in Pristina -- an important meeting point for the disabled in Kosovo.

“We did some renovation work inside during winter already. Now it was time to take care of the outside,” said Conor Lyons, UNV Programme Officer at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Kosovo and one of the event organizers.

The Blind Society in Pristina is a non-profit organization, catering to over 200 people of all ages. The organization serves as focal point for blind and visually impaired people from the Pristina region. They visit the centre every day to meet others, play games, just to talk or to share their experiences and concerns.

Being short of money and work capacity, the Blind Society was faced with a number of challenges. The house is very old, the heaters did not work properly and the toilet is outside of the house in a backyard -- difficult to approach for blind people. The walls had not been not painted for years. There were not enough games and other equipment for their members, so that often they could only sit around talking. Since doors were old and there were no security bars on their windows, the centre was broken into twice and the computers were stolen.

In November 2002, UN Volunteers in Kosovo “adopted” the organization. “So far volunteers from UNDP put bars on the windows and secured the door so that nothing could get stolen again. Before the winter started we installed new heaters. Recently an order of special games for blind people came so that people have different possibilities for how to spend their free time,” said Anduena Carabregu, Country Operations Assistant at the UNV Office at UNDP and main organizer of the event.

The latest activity was to paint the house. “We wanted it to look more friendly and inviting so that also other people take note of the building and its inhabitants,” explains Angela Griep, UNV Public Information Officer at the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and one of the organizers of the event. The painting was carried out in two groups. The first one started at 10 a.m., the second one at 2 p.m. “It looks very nice, and we had a lot of fun,” Anduena said.

The new volunteers’ action plan is to complete indoor renovation. “We are looking for volunteers with hidden talents now,” explained Conor. “Like for example an electrician to do wiring and someone who can make curtains or the interior design.”

The renovation of the Blind Society has been financed by contributions from UNDP in Kosovo. To donate funds for the Blind Society, please contact Conor Lyons at conor.lyons@undp.org.