George Williams Youth Association (YMCA in Kosovo) is one of the beneficiaries of the project STRENGTHENING YMCA WORK IN BALKAN COUNTRIES AND IN LITHUANIA, which has been coordinated for 3 years by YMCA Europe and funded in a great part by Y’s Men International Region Denmark.

Every year of the project one could see clear signs of development. This year in Gjakova, the most prominent achievement is another charity shop. This, like the first one is supported by Y’s Men Club from Holsterbro, Denmark. The shop is situated in the city centre and makes very good impression. The manger Ms Valbone Kabashi puts her heart into it and it’s visible: the display is attractive and the goods are neatly organised according to sorts and sizes and even colours. Definitely this is the place she likes. The charity shop is a place where second-hand goods are on the offer; however, one can hardly see a difference between this shop and other, regular ones around. This is very good marketing approach, which pays off.


The Kosovo YMCA national structures are growing too. In October the YMCA in Peja established the their connections with George Williams Youth Associations.  This local association was founded in 2004 and developed well, being deeply rooted in the community. After rebranding of the national movement, when the situation allowed, the leadership decided to continue their existence within the national structure. After a preparatory period the official access was signed on Oct 9. The municipality, which is very supportive to youth initiatives, gives a space for the activity and office. This, together with the previous premises they gained, makes quite comfortable conditions for dynamic development in both programme and institutional terms.


The national leadership and pay a lot of attention to development of democratic structures of YMCA. An important part of it is training for the Board and national office staff, which is concluded by objectives to achieve during the following year. They make sure the set objectives are realistic and achievable for the young movement - it’s not too much for a period. This year the training dealt with governance issues and had been prepared by the Field Group (group of support created by YMCA Europe). This system of movement strengthening works, although it needs several years to be fully accomplished.


The YMCA in Kosovo initiated some impactful international programmes that are

Implemented together with YMCA Europe in the Balkans and in other European countries. One of the initiatives was “Camping Programme” which was put forward by YMCA in Kosovo and YMCA of Macedonia. Every year they send campers and leaders to Greece. The Greek YMCA helps with the training and teaches the competences by doing.  The goal of the Kosovo YMCA in camping programme is to gain their own camping site. They started from market research and building a pool of trained camp instructors and mangers, not from a try of getting property – it seems to be a reasonable approach. Common sense and determination in achieving goals can be seen in other projects – all these are encouraging sign.


The performance of this YMCA movement during the project was outstanding and the final achievements are highly relevant. This gives a quite solid foundation for further investment in the development of this movement, their programmes, human resources and infrastructure. YMCA Europe fosters this approach – it’s good for YMCA in Kosovo and also a good example for other developing movements. 


Adam Rychlik

YMCA Europe Executive Secretary