First field visit of the UNICEF Ambassador Edin Džeko
Edin Džeko, a member of the BiH national football team and player in German Wolfsburg's first team, in his role as the first UNICEF ambassador in BiH, visited schools in Fojnica, Bilalovac, Brestovsko, Kaćuni and Busovača on Tuesday morning and schools in Novi Travnik in the afternoon. The schools visited by the UNICEF Ambassador Džeko operate as “two schools under one roof”. They were previously included in the UNICEF project “Creating a Safe Environment for Children” implemented by “Genesis” association. During the project children socialized at joint workshops. They do not look at each other as strangers any longer. Now they share space and sports ground as friends and help each other in resolving everyday student concerns that they share with all their peers. In all schools he visited children presented “The wall of children’s wishes and requests” to “their” Ambassador and he promised to make sure the adults take them seriously and do whatever they can to fulfill them.
The project involved students, teachers, school principals and parents in workshops and training programs emphasizing the importance of coexistence and tolerance, pointing out that conflict is a fact that, if seen from a positive perspective, may also be interpreted as a chance, rather than sole desire to jeopardize “the other”. Children have also heard about this from their idol Džeko. They were all eager to meet him and listened to him attentively.
Many children wanted to know in which team Džeko would play the next season, that being a hot football topic.
Children in Fojnica were in a state of euphoria during the initial kick-off in the match between the eighth grade team, comprising children from both schools and the strongest team of lower grade students.
- It is needless to say what an encouragement it was for these children to see a sportsman of Edin Džeko's caliber. I believe that this will influence the children positively and send a message that they are not alone, said the principal of “Ivan Goran Kovačić” elementary school in Fojnica, that applies the Croat curricula, Mr. Ivica Beblek. He added his utmost satisfaction with collaboration with UNICEF within the project “Creating a Safe Environment for Children” to date.
In Kiseljak, Džeko opened a large sports ground in front of „Brestovsko“ and “Bilalovac” elementary school, in which children also attend classes in the same building, but applying different curricula.
- I was happy to hear that you got a sports field. Maybe there is a great sports talent waiting to be discovered in your school. But let me tell you something that I learned through experience. Talent alone is not sufficient for success. Along with talent and some luck, you will need a lot of work, learning, tolerance and appreciation of the variety and difference, Džeko told the excited children in Kiseljak. He added that they can always find their place anywhere in the world through determination and learning. He also told them that he would always cheer for them.
Mr. Saudin Dahija, the principal of "Bilalovac" elementary school, said that that had been the only school without a sports ground. The construction of the sports ground was financed by the Municipality of Kiseljak. Mr. Dahija emphasized the appearance of a famous football player such as Džeko at the opening ceremony as a strong encouragement for all children and the crowning feature of a productive collaboration between this school and UNICEF in several successful projects.
A wave of euphoria spread among children in Kaćuni, where a large number of children met Džeko and informed him of the results achieved in joint projects. Students gave him drawings and recited poems.
- Edin Džeko is an exceptional and positive person. His appearance in Kaćuni stirred euphoria, not only among children, but all residents. It brought us a surge of positive energy, said Mr. Đenan Hozić, the principal of "Kaćuni" elementary school. Džeko was also warmly greeted in Busovača. A quire sang in his honor and students recited a poem dedicated to him.
In Novi Travnik children joined efforts with influential adults and following their own initiative and ideas managed to collect funds for the construction of a sports ground.
- I have heard of your school activities supported by UNICEF in which many of you participated. I would like to encourage you to keep up the good work, because tolerance, work, determination and learning will lead you on a safe road to success. I have personally experienced that many times. When I went to play, first to the Czech Republic and then to Germany, I first had to learn the language, to adapt to different people and customs, to accept them, so that they would accept me. That was the only way I could succeed – Džeko told the children. He also told them to continue socializing and to respect each other, to stay determined and to learn, because that is the easiest way for them “to find their place anywhere in the world”.