“I have NO hope!”

A strategy needs to be something that can be sustained!” President Obama on fighting ISIS

How are we as a society failing our twenty-some year old young men? The shooters in San Bernardino were living the life the men I talk about below wanted.  Where can we find a life of hope and purpose for these young men? How can they be encouraged to connect to the world around them?

This is a blog I wrote after the Paris terror attack:

Today I am writing about the young men I met on a recent trip, and I am calling on the wealthy, big corporations, the United Nations, and the World Bank to help them by creating jobs.

The Macedonian flag
The Macedonian flag

My husband and I have just returned from Albania, Kosovo, and Macedonia.  In the past few years we have also travelled independently to Serbia, Bosnia, Romania and other Eastern European countries.  These countries are democracies, but are still struggling after Soviet domination for many years. The message we hear from the frustrated twenty-some men is, “We have NO hope!” These English-speaking locals approach us as we wait for buses, ride ferries, trains, or are looking at a map on the street.  Unemployment is very high and most we talk to are unemployed or a few are in a low wage jobs.  They have no confidence in their governments, and feel hopeless about their futures  They say they have to pay bribes to get jobs, and to get into the military.  Some of these young men are Muslims, and some are Orthodox Christians.  They think the only solution is to move to Western Europe, Canada or the United States. What is upsetting is the place and time and people change in these discussions, but their message stays the same!  I need to leave to find a better life!

Their frustrations are so enormous that it frightens me they will take any avenue to escape their situation.   Clearly, the answer is not with their governments.  Kosovo can’t account for all the funds NATO has given them to rebuild from their recent war.

The solution needs to exist inside their own countries. If companies are looking to expand, don’t forget Eastern Europe.  Large corporations expanding and creating jobs in these countries could make a big difference! The men we speak to appear to be educated and have good communication skills, and say they are willing to work hard.

It is such a waste of human energy to have energetic minds struggling for a future! The roots of terrorism are very complicated and my ideas are simplistic, but how can these individuals feel they are important, that their lives matter, and that they can contribute worthwhile things to society? What are some sustainable jobs and industries NGOs or private business can start or create in Eastern Europe?

After a soccer win, Albanians adorned with excitement and their flag.
After a soccer win, Albanians adorned with excitement and their flag.

Much needs to be done, but as I ride buses through the countryside these are the things that could be win-win for Europe and the entire world:

  1. Solar is a natural for this area.  Wealthier areas have solar water heaters.
  2. Recycling is lacking and plastic litter is an enormous problem.  How could these plastic bottles and bags be made valuable?
  3. ECO Tourism.  Albania is on the Adriatic Sea and the ancient and historic sites make for some fabulous tourist attractions.

Below is a solar water heater:
image

http://infodev.org/publications/green-industries

http://ecowatch.com/2015/11/17/apple-solar-singapore/?utm_source=EcoWatch+List&utm_campaign=ab7bbc7486-Top_News_11_17_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_49c7d43dc9-ab7bbc7486-85912169

http://undesadspd.org/Youth.aspx

You ask me, “Where are the girls and women?” I can’t answer that question.  Sometimes on the street you see a hundred men to one woman.  Some women do have jobs, and girls are going to school, but overall this is a place where the men seem to dominate.

Eastern Europe and the Environment

Recycle Campaign in MoldovaI have just returned from a three weeks of travelling by trains, buses, trolleys and trams through Romania, Ukraine and Moldova.  Because recycling, climate change, and pollinator plants are our interests, we do our own environmental travel. and watch for best practices as something we can all learn from.  This is our 6th trip to Eastern Europe in 7 years.

The best practice for our earth I observed is their farming. The patchwork and DIVERSITY of crops: Corn, wheat, sun flowers, cabbage, potatoes, and animal grazing all work together. This is so much healthier for our bees, birds and butterflies.  One person told me they didn’t need to use chemicals because of the diversity of their crops!  They also still use lots of hand labor and horses to pick crops.

The streets often have many pedestrians, and I love these great crosswalks.

Pedestrians are a Priority
Pedestrians are a Priority

Garbage cans are small and they generate less waste per person than most countries.  We went 3 weeks using real plates, cups and the napkins are tiny.  Often the toilet paper is made from recycled paper.

Recycling is dismal and plastic pollution is a serious problem. These countries lack the resources to educate and recycle like they know they should.  The young men we meet are frustrated with their job opportunities and futures. With some resources Eastern Europe could be a perfect opportunity to create new green industries and jobs to recycle plastic.

The brain drain of the young is serious.  Many we talk with think success is leaving their homes and moving to the United States or EU countries.  Loans should be available to generate new industry around green issues.  We met environmental scientists helping Moldova on energy efficiencies because of a loan from the World Bank…Perfect!!

Coco Cola and other bottle and plastic bag manufactures,  should take responsibility to help support these countries to recycle the trash that their products generate!! https://health4earth.com/2012/10/22/should-the-soft-drink-industry-help-communities-recycle/

Jobs and economic hope could help Eastern Europe be economic drivers of the E U and could be good for our earth also.

English: Map of Eastern European Countries
English: Map of Eastern European Countries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

http://www.romania-insider.com/only-1-percent-of-trash-recycled-romania-bottom-of-eu-league-again/53958/

Romania has less trash per person

http://www.cleanair.org/Waste/wasteFacts.html

http://www.kleanindustries.com/s/environmental_market_Industry_news.asp?ReportID=143587