For the second year in a row, Skateistan youth from Afghanistan took part in the WeFree youth leadership event in Italy. Skateistan student and volunteer Noman Stanekzai attended the event along with two Skateistan staff that volunteered for six months in Kabul.
Noman says, "To begin with, I feel very lucky to be a part of Skateistan family and be able to help and support Skateistan in any possible way. On the 5th and 6th of October, Frauke, Erika and myself were invited to the international WeFree event, held in Italy. We introduced Skateistan by screening the movie ‘Four Wheels and a Board in Kabul. This was an amazing opportunity for us to express our feelings about Skateistan and about my country."
Taking place near Rimini, Italy, WeFree Days are held annually by the San Patrignano community, and are a way for young people all over the world to come together. This gathering works to establish a sense of community, to share ideas, and speak of personal experiences and hardships, as well as show the possibility of positive change, including drug addiction prevention, through the celebration of various aspects of youth culture.
Noman says that "Flying to Italy was my dream, to see the ocean, eat the Italian pizza, and meet the culture of the people, and it was way, way more amazing than what I expected!"
He continues, adding that "This trip was very productive: I met different people from many parts of the world with different thoughts and inspiring activities. This really inspired me to be strong when coming up against the problems in life and taught me many lessons. I had the best experience of my life and when I met Frauke and Erika in Italy after more than a year since last seeing them in Afghanistan, it felt like I was meeting a member of my family which made everything more special."
Leading up to the WeFree Days, Skateistan had the opportunity to interact with the San Patrignano community, which is an innovative addictions rehabilitation program running since the 1970s. People of the community learn new vocational skills and focus on positive interactions with other people and increasing their own sense of self-confidence. In addition to learning about how the people at San Patrignano live, and how the entire addictions rehabilitation program works so successfully, Skateistan was able to interact with several other amazing non-profit organization who represented with young people from around the world. Some of the groups included Breakdance Project Uganda, Unity Charity (Canada), Transformers (Portugal), Berlin Street University (Germany), Termine Underground (Italy), Fifteen (UK), and many more.
This is the second time that Skateistan has attended WeFree days in Italy, and everyone in the community asked about the four Afghan girls who attended last year, sharing their fond memories of Skateistan's involvement in 2011. A big thanks to the San Patrignano community, all of the organizations from around the world, and the young people involved in the event -- we learned many new things, met amazing people, and feel totally inspired!
More about the event: http://www.wefree.it/
Photos: Joel Sames
Noman heelflips at WeFree!
The Skateistan team presenting to Italian and internatonal youth.
The Skateistan Ambassadors: Noman, Roberto (WeFree guide), Erika and Frauke.
Frauke and Erika take the Breakdance Project Uganda for a roll.
Noman practicing his newly-learned breakdancing skills!