EURON Magazine, article by Kaja BERG

EURON Magazine, article by Kaja BERG

Euron is London’s first online magazine for and about European communities living, studying and working in London.
Article: On a euro-trip for children in kosovo, by Kaja Berg.

“One two, one two,” Ducoffre jokes after setting up my recorder when meeting the Frenchman a sunny day in February. Within the next hour he would reveal all about his plans for the Wanderlust Road Trip Relief, which he founded in November last year. The organisation’s mission is to set out on a 15 day long road trip, to visit 15 European countries while at the same time bringing educational equipment for children in Kosovo. I couldn’t help wondering how it all started.

Mr Ducoffre met Elizabeth Gowing, the founder of the Ideas Partnership when she was in London last March to talk about her book and her experiences in Kosovo. Gowing used to be a teacher and later opened a school in a poor village close to the capital Pristina in Kosovo.

Minority groups like the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities in Kosovo are still being left out of the educational system despite a new law from 2003 providing for primary and secondary education in minority languages. However, still lacking curricula, textbooks and sometimes even any access to education in their own language, Elisabeth Gowing, with the Ideas Partnership tries to help out. The charity has registered over 200 children for school, helped to ensure more than 60 children caught up with missed vaccinations and has set up additional learning centres in some villages.

“It was with her and her charity that this project started to grow in my mind.” Ducoffre says.

Ducoffre got the idea about combining charity work and travel from a similar project in France that started 15 years ago. Now more than 2000 French students go to Morocco with educational supplies every year.

“I always wanted to do this, but there was always something in the way,” Ducoffre explains. The years went by and neither being a student nor having a driver’s license stopped him from following his dream.

After hearing about Gowing’s project Ducoffre got the idea of doing the same except helping children in Kososvo instead of in Morocco.

“There will be no Moroccan desert,” Ducoffre laughs, “but actually it could be even better to cross 15 different countries in 15 days, hear the music, taste the food and see the culture of all the different countries.”

The group will start off in London the 2nd of August going through countries like France, Germany and Croatia before reaching Kosovo a week later. The travellers are planning to bring at least 50 kilos each of school materials and deliver it to the charity Balkan Sunflowers as well as Ideas Partnership, who will then distribute the equipment between different learning centers in Kosovo.

“The goal is to fill each car with as much educational equipment as we can,” Ducoffre explains. “We’ll be in Kosovo a couple of days to spend some time with the children and maybe arrange some English classes for them.”

The travellers will then take a different route home and go through countries like Macedonia, Serbia, Netherlands and Belgium before reaching London the 16th or 17th of August.

“The goal is to fill each car with as much educational equipment as we can”

The Wanderlust Road Trip Relief has now got two teams with two people in each, and Ducoffre calls for more people to come with. If you long for adventure in Europe and has a car you could join the Wanderlust Road Trip Relief this August.

Ducoffre is also asking everyone to have a look in your cupboards, lofts and drawers for any items the group could bring along to Kosovo. Anything from notebooks, pens and bags as well as sports equipment and clothes is needed for the children in Kosovo.
“If we can find a partner that could give us some equipment that would have been great, but also second hand equipment is ideal,” Ducoffre clarifies.

He’s also got some thoughts about what challenges the travellers could face on the road.
“English is an international language but not everyone speaks it everywhere,” he says. “We will all have personal challenges when meeting new cultures on the way.”
He also talks about how driving abroad can be a problem, and especially for young people with only a few years of driving experience.

“It’s a long travel, 6000 kilometres, and we’re going to cross mountains and drive in the dark.”

Yet, all these things are just a part of the Wanderlust Road Trip Relief experience Ducoffre reassures.

“Europe is not like a desert where no one’s around to help out if you’re having trouble.”

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