I had the chance to participate in Peace Camp this year. The training is the main, annual project that CIM organises, involving young people from across Bosnia. I had the chance to have a casual conversation with one of the group leaders. Mili is a very outgoing, free-spirited person, and his energy is amazing. We were sitting down in the hotel’s lounge, working away on our computers. Suddenly he complains about the slow internet and explains he had to send a person a link. They had enquired how he managed to build a tennis court with under 3000 euros in his local community. I was interested, and as he went on to tell me what had happened I was speechless. I asked Mili if he would be ok to record this story for our globalgiving project, and not only did he agree to that, but also to posting his story here.
It goes like this:
In 2008, I watched a tennis tournament in Australia for the first time on tv. Ana Ivanovic got a great result, and I got the idea to build a tennis court. I spoke with a lot of people from the local community and they made jokes about my idea. I spent 4 years searching for possibilities to build the tennis court, never gave up. After 4 years, I got information about youth bank possibilities to get 1000 E, if we have 5 young people ready to work on the project and find minumum half more from another source. We started campaining indidvidually, when I explained the backround to people they started to trust me more. The funds could be in money or other type of support. we got promises from local companies to flatten the ground. Before that we needed to ask the local football club to give us land and to my surprise it was very easy in the centre of town, close to the school next to the main road, and the football court. The company came with a different machine than needed, they tried to make it flat but it was impossible and i organised zoung people, first 10 than more and we started to fix the ground to prepare it for the next stage. At the same time, still the community, even if they gave us the money they still didn’t fully believe, it was 40 degrees in August, they thought we were crazy, and we had a timeframe. It was a 3 month project. After we flattened it (6 days) we started to dig the foundation for the fence, again manually, the young people only had shovels and other basic tools. We spent 3 days on it, because the fence was long, around 100 metres. It was a hard job because the ground was rocky, but we managed it. After that the next step was to buy stones to make cement to fill the foundation with an iron net inside. After that we did the first foundation stage. After, we asked local building companies for wooden materials to hold the foundation, 25 cm above the gorund. We did it ourselves, we worked 3 days and made the boards and blocks. We filled the boxes with iron pillons. Again we did it alöne with tools from friends and family, and the local community. Again 4 four of us digged again diagonally for the drainage, we collected rocks from the river with a mini tractor and filled the hole completely to make the draining systen. After that my friend with a big truck put the second layer of small stones for the tennis court. 40 m3 and we got this 3 times cheaper than the regular market price. When we brought this we organised 3 tractors from the community to move these stones to layer them. The guy with the skip, came to the tennis court and tried to flatten everything, and again we didn’t have to pay anything. It was a donation in kind, again. 6 or 7 of us made is completely flat again with basic tools.The next step was to layer the residue black clay for the local power plant, again 40m3. My friend who had a truck went there, and I promised I would pay him 35 E for each truck ride. He did 3 rides and again manually me and 5 friends flattened it, completely manuallz. 10 cm thick. Still some people from the community said we were crazy and we would never make it. A lot of local politicians offered us finanacial support, but only if we joined their party and promoted them. Unfortunately for them I refused it, even if they wanted to give us all the money. We had promised the local community that the local politicians would not be involved, and that’s why they donated. I refused politely and said I couldnt make it political, and wanted the courts to be build with the support of local residents. At the same time, I was training for to become a tennis referee and I asked support from the national tennis association. They offered to help me. They gave us the tennis lines, and I asked them for the red clay and they were reluctant. I was grateful though because the lines were 350 E. I came from Banja Luka, and I gave the community this news. Because of the size of the black clay which was uneven, we had to ask for the roller truck again, and we actually got a tube full of concrete with a metal stick, more than 200 kg, and we did it ourselves with that improvised tool. I went to the mayor to ask for a bit of help and he said he couldn t help but he said he had a friend who could help. We got the machine and we rolled the black clay some more. We even worked during rain. It was hard but we didn’t give up. We ran out of money for the red clay. We asked local companies for a machine to crush bricks to make red clay, but it didn’t work. When we told the tennis association we collected all money from the local community, only 15 minutes later we got a call from a guy in Banja Luka and he said he would give us all the red clay for the money we got. He was from Switzerland. He also transported it. The drivers paid for our drinks too. The local school sent all the 9th graders with 2 staff to help put down 30 tonnes of clay. We got the Accomplishement of the Year Award from the National Tennis Association for this. The media started to pay attention because i posted a photo album on
facebook called ‘our way’ , and everyone was surprised. We built the tennis court our way with our hands, with a small ammount of money. I published all the photos step by step, and from that the people who didn’t believe in us came to us to shake our hands. It was a massive sucess because we proved everyone we could do it, and because of all the hard work. All the time some people said we would steal the money don t do anything. The whole entity was surprised about the award we got. I was so happy especially for the young people who worked with me.
The step by step photos of this project can be found here.