Thirty young people from thirteen countries gathered for this year`s Task Force featuring a programme staged with the wholehearted collaboration of the Ston Salt Works owned by the Pejić family and of the City of Ston.
During their three-week stay in Ston these young people carried out various tasks at the salt works and tidied and improved the kid`s park with their youthful innovations.
To get an impression of the Eco Heritage Task Force 2012 it should be noted that the salt works in Ston originated in the 14th century, that they are one of the oldest in Europe and that they are still in operation. The works were founded after the year 1333 when the then Republic of Dubrovnik purchased Ston and built seven kilometres of defensive walls around the town, unique in Croatia and Europe. The salt works are comprised of evaporation pools named after Christian saints, with the exception of one named Mundo. Some five hundred tonnes of salt are collected annually from nine crystallisation pools.
The young participants had the opportunity to carry out various assignments in this stunning setting, rich in history, including the harvesting of salt from the crystallisation pools. We learned how this looked from one of the Task Force leaders Ivan Galić: “The figures are as follows: 21 days, 8 days of salt harvesting, 350 tonnes harvested which means 43.5 on the average per day… 25 worthy young Task Force participants making about 875 shovel-loads a day (with about 2 kg of salt per shovel), i.e. about 1.75 tonnes per person per day… In all each moved about 7,000 shovel-loads. Thanks to our dear Ston for everything, we hope you enjoyed our play last night… Another circus now leaves your small town… But your hospitality will never be forgotten… and we will always be happy to return… And you will never forget us—of that we are sure :) Greetings to all on behalf of the leadership team of EHTF Ston 2012.” Simona of Bulgaria writes: “…I feel as is a part of my heart is already in Croatia. I like the people in Croatia and their energy. If there are scholarships available for Zagreb, I will apply.” Sisters Iris and Karla Mikulić of the Netherlands write: “Karla and I would just like to thank you very much for all your help and for admitting us to EHTF. We both had an unforgettable summer! Not only did we learn better Croatian but we also met so many new and nice people. We truly had a great time in Ston! :) Thanks again from both of us.”
The participants also had an opportunity to visit the history-rich city of Dubrovnik and its walls. For most it was the first visit to a city that plays host to countless tourists from around the world every year that come to see this unique city and its stunning beauty. There was also a trip to the southern part of the Makarska seaboard and to Zaostrog and its Franciscan monastery, host of the 2005 EHTF. The monastery is home to an impressive ethnology collection, a gallery and a library with some thirty thousand volumes, many of which are from the period of medieval Croatian literature. This was followed by a swim in the crystal clear waters and the broad green strands of Zaostrog. The following weekend was set aside for a boat trip on Pelješac Bay and a sampling of the shellfish that are harvested here—what more could one want?
They found the time, spirit and will to organise the promotion of a book by Dalibor Pašić, one of the EHTF participants. The promotion of his debut work could not have come off better in the hands of professionals.
This year`s Task Force is yet another of the successful CHF projects, and we hope that our hosts in Ston were equally satisfied. For the goodbye the dramatic arts workshop under the leadership of academy-trained actor Slaven Špišić and the participants of a Croatian language course led by Antonija Rukavina performed an unforgettable stage play under the walls of Ston in the courtyard of Ivica Barović, one of our hosts. There was also a PowerPoint presentation for the inhabitants of Ston, their friends and tourists, featuring the three-week stay and the valuable efforts of the participants of the 2012 EHTF. Ston Mayor Vedran Antunica expressed his gratitude to these young people and the hope that they would spread the word of the hospitality of Ston around the world. Sveto Pejič, the owner of the salt works and the Vila Koruna restaurant where these young people enjoyed their daily meals, expressed his evident gratitude for the great job of salt harvesting, in which the record holder was field leader Ivan Đurišević. CHF representative Ljerka Galic presented the participants with Certificates of Appreciation, while the hosts had a gift pack and a one-kilogram “grain” of salt for each as a memento.
We sincerely believe in the particular value young people from around the world bring to this programme, bringing with them the diverse cultural values, insight and points of view that are exchanged here. The unity they create in the space of only a few days is built upon throughout the entire three-week event. Most of the participants have Croatian roots on one or both sides of the family or in more distant predecessors and come here with a certain positive predisposition or expectations based on what they have heard about Croatia and, in their own words, these expectations are well met.
We hope that the majority of these young people will preserve the memory of this melding of traditional salt harvesting and the clear and warm party evenings in Ston—the music and fun will only serve to complete these memories.
In closing we can quote the words of project leader Nives Antoljak, who has been working on the EHTF for the past seventeen years: “the Stone EHTF is over and we are left with a sense of wistfulness. The participants have returned to their homes in Mexico, the Netherlands, Hungary, Romania, Australia, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Vojvodina, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Slovakia, Spain, South Africa and Ecuador. Some are still in Croatia visiting friends and relatives. They all hope to return, which speaks volumes of their experience participating in this Croatian Heritage Foundation project. We will meet next year with some of the previous and many more new participants in one of the stunning destinations in Croatia.”