Let me now share with you my incredible experience at the beautiful Neretva River with Ado Zvonić, his family and the wonderful people of the fly fishing club in Konjic. Once I worked out all details with Ado, we arranged to meet in the first week in June 2015, and agreed to organise three meetings with kids. Our first session was at a Friday afternoon at the primary school in Glavatičevo, where the principal of the school was kind enough to give us almost two hours for doing a simple conservation talk with kids from group five up to eight. The plan was to bring the kids closer to nature again, explain them a little about fly-fishing, and try to make them aware of all the benefits of the crystal clear river running behind their school.
For many people in the region, the river is just an ordinary stream, but after Ado had showed me more than 50 km of the river, it looked more like a river of gold to me. A real goldmine, at least if people would know how to respect it more, and make use of the river in more positive ways! Our little kids program we saw as a first step in this and we really took some time to explain the kids that dumping trash or other waste near the watercourse, and in the river, can kill fish and all the other aquatic life. This, together with intensive poaching, would have enormous negative impact on the future of their river. Although Ado translated everything that I told them, several kids seriously tried to speak English as well. I was amazed about their eager for learning, and even was more surprised that we had such a great interaction, what made my respect for these kids infinitely. They finally live in an area where the aftermath of a terrible war was still so clearly visible. I hardly felt any language barrier between us. I have worked a lot with kids all over the world, but their enthusiasm and active participation might be seen as a perfect example for all the kids over the world. They even knew quite a high number of answers to a lot of our environment questions that we asked them. At the end of our presentation, I left them with a list of daily used materials lined up in a time table with answers how long it takes for certain garbage parts to decompose in the environment.
For the next day we invited all of them to join a little fly tying workshop that we had planned for those who were interesting. The club in Konjic support us with vices and tools. The principal gave us a nice big classroom and Ado and I were curious how many kids would show up. We didn’t expect too many but we couldn’t believe our eyes. We arrived early to set up our tools and prepare the room and a whole bunch of kids already waiting for us. The classroom was packed and we even had to borrow chairs from another room. It gave us an unbelievable good feeling and it made us clear that we had done our lessons very well the previous day. The success of the fly tying session I can’t express by words, but when kids run out their classroom and hug you real tight when we showed up for a goodbye wave at my departure day, it not only says everything but also gave me little tears.