Plešimo Za Našu Djecu

When I first started working with Naša Djeca, Lejla told me about a winter concert being her favorite fundraising activity that the charity did.  My expectations of what this winter concert entailed were blown through the roof…literally.

Two months before the concert took place we had our first meeting with Jasmina and Tea who are the owners of PS Flash in Mostar.  They run a local dance company for young girls of all ages.  Upon meeting me they were interested in my past dance experience and invited me to join in on there dance classes.  I was really impressed by how talented the young girls were and how much you could see the love of dancing and determination to be the best on there faces.  It was a great experience to be apart of two of there practices and very humbling of the girls excitement to have me there.  That I will never forget.14344327_1817330375165223_1261801793577186856_n14355193_1817330488498545_6683172250612465842_n14516559_1820653908166203_959245239772926858_n14519709_1820653871499540_406777454000550512_n

So like I said we started planning this two months ahead and by the last week I was so ready for the show to just come and be over.  I was having a bit of anxiety as I took on two projects that I wanted to be successful.

My first project was teaching girls at Egipasko a dance to a song by a young Serbian singer.  The first time I heard the song I was instantly moved by the lyrics.  Lena sang about children suffering in pain but that together they could make a difference.  I felt like it could potentially describe any child who feels lost, who needs love, who needs just one chance to make it in life.

The number of girls and at one point boys that I was teaching the dance to frequently changed.  I think we started with 7 or 8 kids and by the end we were only down to 4.  I think 4 is a good number so I had no complaints.  Have you ever taught a dance to kids who don’t speak the same language as you?  Well let me just tell you it’s SO MUCH FUN…on the end of the teacher and on the end of the students.  I would say phrases and the kids would look at me with puzzled faces.  I would do movements, and they were even more confused.  Thanks to Belma, Lara and a few others we somehow made it through rehearsals to finally finish learning the song.  I couldn’t believe how far the girls had come in not only memorizing the dance but feeling it with their bodies.  I would also like to just mention that they learned a few English phrases along the way…up and down… 1,2,3,4…left and right…pose…and slow down which was there least favorite form of direction.  Perhaps they learned more but through the experience I was able to see something totally different from what I see with these girls everyday.  I got to see there dedication, hardwork, love of dance, their doubt when there spirits would fall but also when they would push themselves and believe in eachother.  It was an incredible experience.

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Sugar, spice and everything FIERCE!

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We had a few hiccups like what would the girls wear as costumes and thanks to Alma, she got the girls exactly what they wanted which was to be beautiful ballerinas.  On the day of the show I couldn’t be there to do the hair and makeup of the girls but Belma helped in that department and they truly looked like little princesses.  We didn’t know which version of the song to use, the English version or Serbian.  I thought that both versions were the same.  Turns out they are very different, the English version was about kids and the Serbian version was  about war.  Woof!

My second project was to help promote Naša Djeca’s Second Hand Shop.  I’m not sure how many of my blog readers know but for the past 3 years Naša Djeca has had a Second Hand Shop that sells clothes donated from Sweden and the UK.  The clothes are really nice, most of which are brand new and range from kids to adults in sizes.  They also have shoes and jewelry for sale.  The proceeds of this shop go towards all of Naša Djeca’s projects.  My favorite part of the shop is who you will find working there.  The girls from the house work at this shop: Dana, Zejna, Aida and Ilma all work at this shop where they recieve occupational therapy while providing excellent service assisting customers.  As soon as I heard about the concert I knew I wanted to do a fashion show, but before that I wanted to help promote the shop with the help of our girls from the house.  When I first suggested the fashion show idea, the big question was who would be the models?  I thought it would be best to just use people from the town of Mostar as that is what the show was supposed to be about.  But the models I was most excited about are the girls, I can’t think of more confident people who just love the skin that they are in.  To me that’s what modeling is all about.  Owning who you are.  I asked the girls to be in my show and they got so bashful – well except for Dana, I knew she already had the confidence of a model.

After I got my list of confirmed models and there sizes I went to the shop and was able to easily pull clothing for the show.  We have some really great dresses, sweaters and jackets for men and women and fun accessories too.  A lot of my models were first timers and were anxious to have a rehearsal.  I scheduled the rehearsal the Sunday before the show and gave everyone who showed up an opportunity to walk.  I was impressed, I was excited, I knew that this show would be a success.  At the rehearsal the models got to try on there clothes and almost everything fit no problem.  There were a few hiccups but we pushed past them.  I thought it was most important that everyone felt as comfortable as possible in there clothes.

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I never want to see balloons again in my life.  In order to help promote the show we blew up balloons and had them handed to children and families around Mostar.  Such a cute idea…so many balloons.  I’m coughing just thinking about it…

The staff of Naša Djeca made a few tv appearances while being interviewed for several local news stations.  It was so much fun watching the segments with our girls from the house, we would shout at the tv in excitement.  It was cute…yes, but the coolest part is that everyone in Mostar and beyond was learning more about Naša Djeca and the good things that we do to help the country of Bosnia.

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The morning of the show we all woke up early to go set up at Kosaca.  The venue was beautiful, I had seen it before during one of our meetings but wow – I got such a rush being on the stage the day of the show.  We also had Medo the bear handing out balloons to the kids.  The kids LOVED Medo and were chanting his name outside of Kosaca.  img_5930img_5946img_5928

Thanks to Frizer Sandi and Frizerski Džana 10 of our models were able to get there hair done.  Watching the transformation of Dana, Aida and Zejna was priceless.  Each of them was so happy with how there hair turned out and the smiles on there faces were so big.

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Sanela did the makeup for the girls and I rushed to Kosaca for the rehearsal.  The taxi system in Mostar makes no sense to me…in any city I’ve been in you can hail a taxi and it will stop for you as long as its empty.  In Mostar – no chance.  But just when time was coming down to the wire Salih appeared and gave me and two others a ride to the event.  I still couldn’t believe that Salih made it considering he lives 2 hours away and had plans that started halfway through the concert.

After arriving to Kosaca, the place was packed and the public wasn’t even there yet.  Dancers everywhere, rehearsals on the stage, lights, music, the suspense was getting to me.  My girls got to practice on the stage and I was confident they were going to do a great job.

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My models got to practice on the stage for the first time and it was a little unorganized but I figured, it couldn’t be any worse during show time…  Positive thinking does wonders!

Time for the doors to open…

The audience flooded into Kosaca and it quickly became packed.  The bottom floor had been filled and people started to sit on the balcony seats.  I kept an eye on the the schedule as my girls were number 7 and the fashion show 17…I think.

Within minutes it was time to grab the girls from there seats and get them backstage.  They started freaking out and I felt terrible because I meant to have a text translated to read aloud to the girls but with the help of Tajma, my girls were able to hear what I wanted to tell them.  I let them know just how proud I was of them, the transformation over the months has been amazing and that I wanted them to remember was why they wanted to dance, for themselves.  The girls hugged me, I gave them big kisses and off they went.  I was in tears watching these girls ages ranging from 6 to 17 years old on the stage lighting it up.  They shined brighter than the lights, the music, the sun, the moon and the stars.  This was my first time as a dance teacher, the skill level was different for each girl, I made a few adjustments as certain moves were painful or uncomfortable.  But would I teach again even with the language barrier?  In a heartbeat!

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My hearts

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Photo Credit Selma Hodzic

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Photo Credit Selma Hodzic

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Photo Credit Selma Hodzic

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Photo Credit Selma Hodzic

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Photo Credit Selma Hodzic

I took the girls back to there seats and my models were already backstage.  My very last minute thinking made me realize that the music was too long for the models to walk.  We lost one model just days before and I hadn’t made a proper adjustment.  After running up several long stair cases to try to find the sound people, knocking on doors only to run back downstairs, I finally got in contact with them and told them to cut my music after the finale walk.  Thanks for running with me Sonja.  Racing down the stairs, running backstage, realizing I still had to change into my outfit and the models told me we had 2 minutes before we were on.  I quickly changed, we got in our order and were ready to rock it.

I have to say considering only one of my models had previous modeling experience, the show was a success and everyone did an amazing job.  The confidence, the pizazz, the giggles, poise, smiles and poses were everything.  I always get nervous just a little bit before runway shows but that’s because I’ve been in shows where I have been told I have a to walk a certain way, that my walk is terrible, that I don’t look good in the clothes, etc, etc.  But for me runway is really exciting because most shows take months sometimes even years of preparation and you imagine that your only on the runway for 30 seconds to a minute.  In that time you have to sell the heck out of those clothes.  You have to make everyone in the audience wish they owned that dress or jacket or shoes.  The finale walk was amazing and by the time the finale ended, so did the music.  I still laugh about all of those stairs I ran up and down (for nothing) but hey exercise is exercise.

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Zeljka – Photo Credit Selma Hodzic

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Đana – Photo Credit Selma Hodzic

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Tajma – Photo Credit Selma Hodzic

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Adnan – Photo Credit Selma Hodzic

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Zejna – Photo Credit Selma Hodzic

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Lamia – Photo Credit Selma Hodzic

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Amela – Photo Credit Selma Hodzic

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Nehad – Photo Credit Selma Hodzic

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Petra – Photo Credit Selma Hodzic

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Elvis – Photo Credit Selma Hodzic

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Martina – Photo Credit Meliha Nametak-Long

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Aida – Photo Credit Selma Hodzic

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Josipa – Photo Credit Selma Hodzic

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Todd – Photo Credit Selma Hodzic

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Me (Asia) – Photo Credit Selma Hodzic

After the runway show, we took a group photo together.

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My models !!!!

The models changed but I stayed in my dress.  It was so beautiful I knew I had to have it for the rest of my life.  I was able to catch the end of the show, hand out balloons to dancers and kids in the audience and watch Albina light up the stage with her amazing voice.  I hear her singing all of the time in the office but on the stage, it seemed more powerful, full of more love and the kids flooding the stage, my dancing girls waving there hands in the air from side to side, Medo the bear joining them.  Oh, it was the best ending to the show.

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Photo Credit Selma Hodzic

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Photo Credit – Selma Hodzic

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Photo Credit – Selma Hodzic

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Photo Credit – Selma Hodzic

After the show officially ended, our kids from Egipasko, the guys from the halfway house, our girls from the house our special guests from Stolac received presents.  It was really beautiful.   Everyone was so happy.  I felt the true spirit of why we start planning months in advance.  I understand now why this concert is Lejla’s favorite event.  This concert is now my favorite event and I wanted to do it again on Saturday and Sunday.

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Photo Credit Selma Hodzic

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Photo Credit Selma Hodzic

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Photo Credit Selma Hodzic

There were a great number of media outlets present, staff members from Naša Djeca and PS Flash were interviewed before and after the event ended.  Naša Djeca is on its way to becoming a household name…

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Photo from City TV

I have to admit one of my favorite yet potentially super vain moments of excitement was my name appearing on the marketing poster.  Albina’s too!  Oh and all of the different media outlets wanting to know more about the fashion show and who Asia Odum was…  Ha, I’m honest.

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To all of my friends in Mostar and those that will visit, you now see for yourself how great our clothes in the shop are on the runway and they will look just as good on you or your loved ones/friends, consider stopping by the Second Hand shop just off of Marsala Tita.  We have a 50% sale for the rest of the month.

Naša Djeca and PS Flash put on a show to remember.  Dancers, singers, a choir, bands, performers, clowns and the fashion show all went so nicely together.  We raised almost 1,600 km after all of the expenses it took to put on the show.  To me it was a success.  I want to do another one.  I’m so glad that I work for an organization where they include me in everything and when I have a new idea, they let me go with it!

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Photo Credit – Selma Hodzic

 

 

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