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NEWSROOM for May 5, 2001

Aired May 4, 2001 - 04:30   ET


ANNOUNCER: Seen in classrooms the world over, this is CNN NEWSROOM.

TOM HAYNES, HOST: It's the day that always comes late, Friday. I'm Tom Haynes. Here's the part of the show we call "Page Two." Foot-and-mouth disease finally under control in Britain? The answer, coming up in "Top Story." We take a closer look at the Balkans. In "Editor's Desk," a trio of filmmakers telling their story of life in war torn Kosovo. "Worldview" takes a look at healing through art. And kids going the extra mile in an effort to help people they've never even met.

More than two months after foot-and-mouth disease broke out in Britain, government officials say it's under control now. Rigorous slaughtering measures and strict agricultural controls helped contain the disease. Although Britain's nearing the end of the battle against foot-and-mouth disease, it's not quite over yet. More than two million animals have been slaughtered or targeted for slaughter because of the outbreak. That's placed many farmers on the path to financial hardship. Thousands of farms remain under restriction.

The epidemic, which also spread into Ireland, the Netherlands and France, shut Britain's livestock out of international trade. Britain's tourism industry also has suffered. It's lost about $4 billion in domestic travel and another $7.5 billion in overseas tourism.

Foot-and-mouth disease is rarely a threat to humans, but highly contagious in cloven hooved animals, sheep, pigs and cattle. The disease is capable of spreading great distances and can be transmitted by infected or contaminated animals, objects and people. Government officials say current controls must be kept in place until the epidemic has been completely wiped out.

The United States Department of Agriculture is considering easing its ban on imports of raw meat and livestock from the European Union. Government officials say the risk of foot-and-mouth disease in the U.S. has been sharply reduced thanks to stepped up airport inspections and measures taken by Britain to end the epidemic.

Walter Rodgers brings us up to date.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) WALTER RODGERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was what the British have been waiting weeks to hear from their prime minister since the outbreak of the foot-and-mouth crisis in February.

TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We are getting the disease under control. We have now all but completely cleared the backlog of animals waiting to be slaughtered as well as the backlog waiting to be disposed of. But let me make it quite clear right at the outset, it is not over yet.

RODGERS: The British government announced as of Friday there will be no more mass burnings of slaughtered livestock, although thousands of farms still remain under restrictions. So, with the numbers of new cases declining rapidly, the British prime minister again invited tourists back.

BLAIR: Virtually anything that your average tourist from abroad would want to do here they can do.

RODGERS: The British government has repeatedly blamed the news media for exaggerating the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak. But the chief of the British Veterinary Association said not so.

DAVID TYSON, PRESIDENT, BRITISH VETERINARY ASSOCIATION: We didn't know where it was. We potentially had it all over the country or in several places in the country and it wasn't hysterical to shut the country down.

RODGERS: The damage to British agriculture has been enormous. The government is planning a billion dollar recovery effort. Still, criticism of the Blair government has been muted.

MARTIN HAWORTH, NATIONAL FARMERS UNION: Well, they make mistakes but in retrospect, that's not terribly surprising because it's been a terrible, terrible disaster. The scale of it is something which was never predicted.

RODGERS: The prime minister's announcement that the worst is over is seen by many as paving the way for British elections next month. Mr. Blair postponed those elections once before at the peak of the foot-and-mouth crisis and the public seems to have given him credit for sensitivity. Now, most of the British electorate appears to have written off the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak as an act of god.

Walter Rodgers, CNN, London.


HAYNES: We turn to the Balkans as we head into our "Editor's Desk" today. The Balkan peninsula is in southeast Europe and contains a number of countries, places like Bulgaria, Greece and Yugoslavia. We will zero in on Yugoslavia and one of its republics, Serbia. In the southern part of Serbia is a province names Kosovo. It's the home of some young filmmakers who are turning their cameras on subjects both serious and silly. You'll learn how art can record history, profile a problem or simply capture a mood.

Jason Bellini has the snapshot.


JASON BELLINI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A fresh tape in the camera: The first push of the record button captures Artan Sadiky (ph) saying goodbye to his family and friends. He, along with his two other Kosovar Albanian travel partners, trade off photography duty during a trip to the United States.

Organizers of the Sundance Film Festival brought them from Kosovo to Park City, Utah to participate in Sundance's Gen-Y Studio, a gathering of young film- and video-makers from around the world. They presented their video called "Postcard from Peje" that shows the devastation war wrought on their society.

But on this trip, they left thoughts of home behind, concentrating instead on a travel experience few young Albanians could ever hope to have.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We tell everybody in Kosovo that never flew before: How does it look like to be in a plane?

SEDIJE KAFTRATI, KOSOVAR ALBANIAN: In the beginning, I was a little bit scary. But then after I liked it.

BELLINI: They experienced their first airport layover, staying up all night waiting for their flight. Eventually they arrived in the U.S. and made their connection to Salt Lake City, Utah.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the one filming in Nick.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I really -- it was like a dream, actually, just like time in -- I was just looking around, like losing myself looking around. We were very tired. And we wanted to sleep. And, at first, I thought, you know, just going out and see some nice things. But we were really tired.

BELLINI: But the three were never too tired to strike up new friendships.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: About you guys? You guys are cool, funny.


BELLINI: They tape themselves having fun American style: eating pizza, hanging out watching videos, bowling.

(on camera): Have you ever been bowling before?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. This is the first time. And I couldn't believe that I was so good. (LAUGHTER)

BELLINI (voice-over): There were other firsts for the trio during their trip. In Albanian culture, men don't typically participate in food preparation and dish washing. But Park City is not Kosovo.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They filmed me washing dishes and preparing food for us, you know. And that was like: When I am going to go home, they'll say: You need to do that here, too.

BELLINI (on camera): Mom does it at home for you?



BELLINI (voice-over): Their video was not a documentary, but a memento. On it, if only by accident, they caught a bit of encouragement to bring home from a new friend from Israel.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you have to say for Kosovar...



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do I have to say? I already know. He told me that you rebuilt a lot of your country. So I am proud of you guys. And don't give up hope. And I also live in a part of the world where there is a lot of war. And I know that you are not allowed to give up on hope. Thank you.



HAYNES: More on the Balkans as we head into "Worldview" now. You've probably heard about political unrest and conflict in the region. In 1992, Boznia-Herzegovina or Bosnia for short, declared its independence from Yugoslavia. So did three other republics, that's Croatia, Macedonia and Slovenia. Well, as Yugoslavia broke up, ethnic fighting broke out. But the fighting was especially brutal in Bosnia, where Serbs, Croats and Bosnian Muslims live.

So what's it like to grow up during a war? Well, for a lot of us it's really hard to imagine, yet around the world many young people are caught up in the terror and trauma of such conflict.

Well, our Kathy Nellis met with a survivor of the war in Bosnia who talked about how it affected her life and cut short her childhood.


AMRA TREBINJAC, STUDENT: My name is Amra Trebinjac. I am 23 and I come from Sarajevo. I was born in Sarajevo. I've lived most of the time there and I lived in the center with my family in Sarajevo and I had one brother who died during the war. I was really happy all my life until the war begun. So I was in my apartment in Sarajevo and it started. So nobody really believed that we were going to have the war there.

So it came really suddenly. I want to say that Sarajevo is a city with a lot of religions in there, a lot of different people, different cultures and it's all kind of mixed up. And we all lived together. For example, I can tell you that I played all my life since I was three years old with a friend who is a different religion and a girlfriend had a very different religion. So we played all our lives without knowing that we were a different religion.

So when the war started, I think it wasn't because we did hate each other. I was 15 years old when it started. So I saw a lot of people were killed on the street, a lot of civilians. And soon after the war started, my mother was injured on the street. So it caused in my life a change. From that moment, I had to think about my survival, about things I didn't think all my life. I needed to think about how to get food, how to get water, how to come to hospital to see my mother and if she was going to survive or not.

I think for many children in Bosnia it was like really like a change. So during the war I think a lot of children had like kind of a break in their lives, in their childhood, in their normal development. So that's what we really miss. So we stopped there. So we are continuing now after the war to develop our souls, our spirits like normal children. It is important to give children this, what they need as children, so to play with other kids, to be able to talk to other children, to draw, to play music, whatever, to go to school normally, to live with their families.


HAYNES: Amra is using her experience to help other Bosnian children. She's part of a project known as ArtReach. The ArtReach Foundation is a non-profit group from Atlanta, Georgia here in the United States. Their mission is to help young people recover from the trauma of war. Last year, art teachers, therapists and counselors volunteered their time to travel to Bosnia where they worked with local teachers and students.

Kathy Nellis has more on their project and their paintings.


KATHY NELLIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The pictures on these walls were drawn by schoolchildren ages five to 14. Their home, Sarajevo, a city ravaged by war from 1992 to 1995. The director of the ArtReach program in Sarajevo is a doctor, a healer forced to witness death and destruction in the heart of his homeland.

DR. ISMET SULJEVIC, ARTREACH FOUNDATION: It was a very terrible life. It was a time which affected our life. Especially children had a lot of problems and they live this time under the stress. They lost families and parents. We can show you a lot of about this life during the war. This exhibition is art of this war life.

NELLIS: Life goes on even in war and this traveling exhibition is the legacy of a new generation. But the physical and mental bombardment is not limited to Bosnia. War is a problem around the globe and not only for those who fight and die.

(on camera): UNICEF estimates that as many as 10 million children suffer from the psychological wounds of war.

(voice-over): Art therapy is one approach to heal those wounds.

PROFESSOR JANE RHOADES HUDAK, GEORGIA SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY: It's basically a way for people to heal through the visual arts in particular. So it's a method of psychological healing.

NELLIS: Professor Jane Rhoades Hudak, the director of the graduate program of art education at Georgia Southern University, was part of the inspiration behind the project. But many others are involved, including Bonnie Miller, who is a clinical social worker and educator, as well as the wife of the U.S. ambassador to Bosnia, Thomas Miller.

BONNIE MILLER, CLINICAL SOCIAL WORKER: ArtReach does a very interesting directive, an interesting exercise that helps children look at the past, the present and the future to see their life in perspective, that it wasn't only the horrible things that happened to them during the war and this in between transition period now, but that they do have a future, that there might be hope for them, that they can grow up in a place where people would get along and in a place that they would have a place to play and education and more positive things.

So I think ArtReach helps to instill this kind of hope in children.

NELLIS: Susan Anderson, executive director of the ArtReach Foundation, says as many as 65 percent of Bosnian children have seen dead bodies or witnessed the death of someone they knew right before their eyes. She and her team work with Bosnian teachers and health care workers in a hands-on setting.

SUSAN ANDERSON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ARTREACH FOUNDATION: We are simply engaging and training teachers and giving them another tool to communicate with children who endured the suffering. This is a piece that was done -- the past, present and future. And here is one that's a really nice example of it moving in a vertical format. Notice the damage to the roof here and that it moves into, so this is past, this is the present and very futuristic here. But you really do have a change in what the participant is experiencing.

SULJEVIC: Before the war, as you know, Sarajevo, for example, was Olympic town and it was so beautiful before the war. But during the war they destroyed so lot and they killed about 17,000 inhabitants in town, about 2,000 children. And they wounded 65,000 citizens in Sarajevo town. It is a big problem because a lot of children lived during the war in Sarajevo and they are under the stress of war. They have today some problems about his communication, social communication. They have problems in school.

MILLER: Ethnic cleansing was pretty complete. Almost every family has somebody who was killed and everybody has a story, whether they were caught in the siege of Sarajevo, whether -- or a siege of other cities, whether they had to leave, whether they saw family members carted off, whether they saw people killed in front of their eyes. So all of this is underneath the surface.

ANDERSON: ... on the surface because things have returned to normal again in Bosnia. Children are now back in school in the schools that have been redone by international government funding and humanitarian efforts and they're trying to live a normal life. But you do not have to scratch the surface too far to see post-traumatic stress.

NELLIS: ArtReach attempts to build self-esteem and help young people understand what they've experienced.

RHOADES HUDAK: Art is a universal language. It's very non- threatening. Sometimes it's very difficult for people to verbalize things. I know for myself, I'm an artist and I'm not always a very articulate person, a very -- it's difficult for me to verbalize things. But I can very easily let an image come out on a, in a drawing or through a piece of clay, you know, sculpture, whatever, of something that I'm feeling.

ANDERSON: Art can be a very non-verbal, non-judgmental means of communication. It can be a form of communicating and exploring at the feeling level.

RHOADES HUDAK: That's the beauty of this project in that it's a combination of education and teaching tolerance and also a method of healing.

MILLER: I think that we really need to get to the children when we're talking about the future of Bosnia-Herzegovina. We have to start with the children and the next generation growing up in a democratic society. So healing the traumas of war are very, is very important before children can go on to be constructive citizens.

There has been enormous rebuilding and enormous growth. You see an apartment next to another apartment that's completely bombed out and you see laundry hanging from it, that someone's now living there. People are coming back and a lot of rebuilding is happening. There are glass buildings, which to me is a sign of hope because if you're planning on having another war, the last thing you're going to build is a glass building.

NELLIS: The rebuilding goes beyond glass, beyond bricks. ArtReach is reaching out, helping to build hope.

TREBINJAC: I saw a lot of struggle inside, inside of children's souls while they were drawing some pictures and also I saw a lot of happy children there. It was really good.

NELLIS (on camera): What are your dreams for your country?

TREBINJAC: My dreams for my country, I love my country. I love every stone of my country, every tree. I think education is a very important factor in each individual's life. So my plan is to continue with my school and to graduate and then that's my plan. And to get involved and to -- in other ArtReach projects and to participate and to help. And I really hope it will spread all around Bosnia and -- because it's not, it's important not just for Sarajevo, but also for all cities and all children in Bosnia to get the opportunity to be part of this project.

NELLIS (voice-over): The project leaders have a vision, to expand their program beyond the Balkans someday.

ANDERSON: We see the need. We have something now that can really go anywhere in the world and we want to take our program where there has been military violence or a natural disaster.

RHOADES HUDAK: ArtReach's goal is to help children all over the world eventually begin to heal and deal with the post-traumatic stress that these children have experienced as a result of war or things like the Oklahoma bombing.

SULJEVIC: I'd like to say the actual link of one father. Don't kill one another. We really can live in peace. Everywhere children is safe they like to live in peace.



HAYNES: ArtReach volunteers return to the Balkans in June. This time, they'll take some high school kids from the U.S. along to help out. Teens from the State of Georgia have been playing an active role in reaching out to young people in Bosnia. Here's Kathy Nellis once again with a report on these volunteers and their vision.


NELLIS (voice-over): At Riverwood High School, students are thinking about prom and final exams. Their days are filled with homework and hair styles and getting to class on time. But dig a little deeper and they're thinking hard about teenagers traumatized by war, youngsters in Bosnia who grew up during the conflict or in its aftermath. These teens are interns for the ArtReach Foundation, which uses art therapy to help young people suffering the psychological wounds of war.

Their teacher, Peter Cline, quickly learned from ArtReach director Susan Anderson how the project offers many ways for kids to help and learn.

PETER CLINE, INTERNATIONAL STUDIES COORDINATOR, RIVERWOOD HIGH SCHOOL: I said well what do you have, what need do you have that's not being met? She said immediately I need a Web site. And I said Joanna Davidovich, because the year before in my class she'd made a beautiful Web site for a project that I'd assigned.

JOANNA DAVIDOVICH, AGE 17: Pretty much I'm the Web mistress. I made the Web site for ArtReach and I'm not really that great of a Web designer, but they needed someone to just put up the context that the text there and, well, I did it.

JEFFREY LENOWITZ, AGE 18: She designed it very nicely.

DAVIDOVICH: Yeah. It's, it works.

RICKY MANNE, AGE 18: She has all the designs in play.

DAVIDOVICH: And also I did a little school wide art supplies drive for the Foundation and we got a couple good, really good donations.

CLINE: I said what else do you need? She goes well, I've got this show coming up. I'm working with Judy Lampert (ph) and some other artists. We've taken pictures, we're bringing back art work from Bosnia that the kids have done and it's going to tour around. I need somebody physically who's got an arts background to help us with all this. And I said Ricky Manne.

MANNE: I've been in charge of arranging and organizing the exhibitions of the children's art work and basically, you know, getting, trying to get it out in Atlanta and the states and, you know, getting the pieces framed and that sort of stuff.

CLINE: I asked her what else do you need? And she goes, you know, I don't have time to do all the fund-raising I need to do right. And I said Jeffrey Lenowitz. I mean here's a kid who took his bar mitzvah money and made a killing on the stock market and I thought this is a natural for him. Let's give him some training in this.

LENOWITZ: My job in ArtReach is I'm involved in the funds soliciting part. Ms. Anderson has taught me how to write grants and she kind of, she took a course and so she passed on the knowledge to me and taught me how to write grants and proposals and make P.R. packets.

NELLIS: While training is one of the goals in this project, it's not the main one. As students participate in all the hands-on opportunities, they learn more about the world and about themselves.

LENOWITZ: I think it kind of instills a sense of pride to you. I mean it's, it builds your self-confidence at the same time because it does make you feel good knowing that you're helping other people and also it really makes you realize, it's kind of an eye opener about what you have compared to what other people...

NELLIS (on camera): This high school in Atlanta is 5,220 miles from Sarajevo. That's 8,401 kilometers. But students here are committed to bridging that distance. DAVIDOVICH: If we don't, who will? It has to start somewhere and it, I just imagine what would I be going through if I was a part of that war? What would I be going through? What if my family was there? What if I had friends there? And it's just, there's a crisis like, crises like this all over the world and you can't really help all of them at once. So, well, this is one of them.

CLINE: If you take young people and show them that they can make a difference, then they get into the habit and they continue to do it throughout their lives. They learn about responsibility. They learn about the fact that you are connected with the world. It's not a matter of you can or can't be, it's you are. Now what are you going to do with it?

LENOWITZ: The good thing about volunteering is that it's, there's so many options to do it. It's not like it's very, that you have to go and search for an organization. I know at our high school we have at least three clubs or three like student clubs that are devoted to volunteer work and helping and I think we do make a difference. I mean it's not hard to do.

MANNE: I'd be like if I'm in the position to be able to help other people, I should.

DAVIDOVICH: I think that any way I can help is good, no matter how small.

NELLIS (voice-over): Small steps they may be, but the actions of these students are adding up to reach around the world.

Kathy Nellis, CNN NEWSROOM.


HAYNES: And an even bigger step is when the U.S. military gets involved. They're going to airlift some more art supplies over there to Bosnia.

That's CNN NEWSROOM for Friday. Have a great weekend and we'll see you back here on Monday.



4:30pm ET, 4/16

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