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Each town or village can be the center of the world | Ukraine

Interview by Svitlana Oslavska with Olga Diatel and Alona Karavai, translated by Liubov Hryb. 

UkraineLab is an interdisciplinary platform for effective and sustainable networking, which creates space for dialogue between active representatives of different sectors of society in Ukraine.
In 2015 two forums were organised by UkraineLab. One in Kiev devoted to the best solutions for culture and civil society in post-crisis periods, the second one in Ivano-Frankivsk with focus on peace building strategies. This year the activities will be continued and new meetings will be arranged. In April UkraineLab will be held in Kramatorsk and Slovyansk. Alona Karavai and Olga Diatel, coordinators of the programme, explain specifics and characteristics of UkrianeLab, this year’s topics and expectations.

What is UkraineLab in brief?
Alona Karavai: UkraineLab is an interdisciplinary platform for smart networking and cross-sectorial cooperation of change makers as well as a think tank where visions and innovations for civil society and culture can be born. With UkraineLab we also create a safe space for people to share, to exchange about and to collect all kind of practices of local development and to test them where they may be the most necessary at the moment.
Olga Diatel: UkraineLab is a space where you can develop new professional relations and partnerships, which will make your work more effective in the future.

What impressions did you get after the first meetings in 2015 so far?
Olga Diatel: I was skeptical about the large number of people we planned with to take part. It is not easy to ensure an efficient process in such kind of situations. Yet at the first forum we managed to create an atmosphere of openness, personal responsibility and everyone was very cooperative. Our aim and the aim of UkraineLab is to build a network of people, and I think we manage to build it step by step.
Alona Karavai: The second forum was organised as a kind of a partnership fair. It emerged people have a great actual need of building deliberate partnerships. Usually people partnering up right before the start of a project and they do not discuss their aims and values beforehand. This causes often the opposite of a long term and trustful partnership which would have the potential to create some impact. The format of the partnership fair will be further developed, so in Kramatorsk and Slovyansk participants will have more opportunities to present themselves, get to know each other and exchange.

Why have you chosen the topic “The development of local communities” for the upcoming meeting?
Alona Karavai: We actually asked the participants during the second forum in Ivano-Frankivsk 2015 where we already started to plan the next steps for 2016.
Olga Diatel: A lot of them mentioned they would like be involved somehow in the everyday life of communities in the town where the forum takes place and they want to share something with the residents. So we decided to give it a try and to work with local communities. And we see it anyway as an emerging topic which is quite important for our work.

Which social challenges you have in mind thinking about UkrianeLab?
Alona Karavai: I think that UkraineLab is facing social challenges such as the lack of communication between people and poor quality of communication. Obviously people do not communicate with each other even in small communities you can observe this phenomenon parties from different sectors of society or different social layers are not coming together.
Olga Diatel: In my opinion every place has its own potential. And it depends on the people who live there to which extent this potential is used. I would like to work with tools and ideas from the field of local actions and with capabilities that can develop the potential of a city or a village. My personal experience: it doesn’t matter whether you live in a city or in a village, if you have a good idea, people from all over the world come visit and join you. Each town or village can be the center of the world if you live there and develop it.

Why have you chosen Kramatorsk and Slavyansk for the next meeting?
Olga Diatel: “We should do like ordinary people: organise meetings in Kiev and house all participants in one hotel” – we often joke about how and especially where we organise our events. To be serious, in Kramatorsk, in this region we are running the projects “Rural Initiatives Workshop” and “Сultivator”. So we know a lot of locals and we are in close contact with them.
Kramatorsk and Slavyansk are located on the so-called periphery. Due to this fact there are a lot of challenges. On the one hand a lot of people have emigrated. On the other hand, in Kramatorsk you can feel some kind of energy and something positive is up. In fact there are a lot of problems also a lot of ideas appear. And you may become part of it.
UkraineLab will take place in two cities in the region: In Kramatorsk and Slavyansk. People will stay in both cities as well as the activities of working groups. We decided so because we cannot stay with 120 people in one city , so we use the potential of both cities. This is certainly not the easiest nor the most practical solution to organise and also for the participants. Yet it provides the opportunity to learn more about the region.

How exactly will the participants work with the local communities?
Olga Diatel: We will work in thematic groups and we organise workshops, which we call “local actions”. The workshops will combine theory and practice. We expect participants working hand in hand with local initiatives and organisations to make these “local actions” most effective.
UkraineLab is a format and network, which is shaped by its participants. We already ask in the application to bring in own ideas for workshops. And these workshops can engage a lot of people. So we are looking for people who understand this approach, who are open-minded, curious and like to create something together.
And don’t be afraid to visit Kramatorsk.

In September will UkraineLab meet in Berlin. Can you already tell us about it?
Alona Karavai: For now the working title is “Ukraine – the EU: Lessons that have (not) been learned”. We want to look at things that have changed in the discourse “Ukraine – European idea – the EU”. We will include also the topic “Subjectivity and introspection of Ukraine” as we find the discussion about the perception of Ukriane as an subject important in European context.  We want to consolidate most of the Ukrainian and Pro-Ukrainian figures in Berlin, in Germany, in order to create a significant event together. There are only few Ukrainian events in Berlin. And of course, we hope the Ukrainian organisations will be interested in exchanging experience, and willing to see how everything works in Berlin as well as to find partners. We would like to gain attention, we would like to be heard in Berlin.

You can find more information at www.dialogue-for-change.org/en and at Facebook UkraineLab. UkraineLab is part of the project “Dialogue for Change” which is designed to help overcome social cleavage by a strengthening of civil society and dialogue in Ukraine.

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UkraineLab: “We are not going to leave” | Ukraine

by Svitlana Oslavska, published in Ukrainian at zbruc.eu on 6th of April 2015. Translation into English yb Liubov Hryb and proof reading by Maciej Głomb.

“Leave this country while you are young. Nothing will be changed here” – the taxi driver was convincing me on the way to the forum “Ukraine Lab: Best practices and interdisciplinary approaches to civil society and culture in crisis and post-crisis times”. A bit hesitantly – it is pretty hard to argue with taxi drivers – I answered that I have stuff to do in Ukraine. And meeting around fifty more people at the UkraineLab that also know why they are here, I was picturing our response to the taxi driver that would be more convincing.

People were coming to the forum in order to discuss how independent cultural initiatives can endure and what is the meaning of NGOs’ work during the war. This forum is the first step of the project Dialogue for Change, organised by German association MitOst and the Ukrainian organisation Insha Osvita.

Why is this event different from lots of other meetings and seminars, and why should we talk about it? Forum mediator Ivanna Chupak partially answered the first question. “There are many forums for activists in Ukraine, but it’s rarely possible to find a format comfortable for everyone. Such a mixture of disciplines and topics is enriching”. Indeed, the forum brought together leaders from the public sector such as Crimea SOS, AHALAR Center, “Fond Klychka” (“Klitschko’s Fund”) –, independent media and cultural initiatives such as Art-Dvir (Art Yard) in Buchach, online magazines Ufra and Khmarochos (Skyscraper), Kyiv Theatre for Dialogue and others), as well as representatives of government agencies like the Department of Culture of the Lviv city council. I want to answer as a member of the forum as to what is its meaning.

“We have changed a lot”

The main thing that happened at the UkraineLab is the manifestation of the fact that almost fifty cultural and public figures remain here, willing to change the country without pathos, with small steps. It’s like we say to each other as well as to the taxi driver, “We do not agree with the fact that” everything is as before and nothing has changed because we have changed a lot. UkraineLab can be called a statement that denies the gloom. We look into each other’s eyes and honestly say, “We do not plan to leave, at least for now”. And we can even give the examples: here is the organiser of the festival “Respublika” in Kamianets-Podilsky Andrii Zakharko who came back to Ukraine after living ten years abroad.

Alona Karavai, programme coordinator of the project Dialogue for Change: “We developed this project in May 2014 as a platform which would bring leaders from different sectors together, those who want to share ideas how to work in Ukraine under these conditions and those who have open eyes and hearts to think about it together. We wanted to understand what to do after the crisis in Ukraine in 2016 or 2020, but one event is not enough to find the answer. First, we need to work long and hard, analysing what we have done during the last 16 months, and only then we can talk about the future. At the next forum, we are going to think more about the future vision, and we plan to invite organisations that finance projects for them to see what we need.
The interest in Ukraine has increased in Germany where I work. This leads to the fact that organisations that have never worked in Ukraine before have no Ukrainian partners; they come to Ukraine with external concepts and leave after three months. These are wasted resources. The main value for us is networking. If there are horizontal contacts, there will be a vision and joint projects.”

According to everything that was said at the UkraineLab, we see three most necessary needs for activists:

  • to reflect critically on the activities of NGOs;
  • to plan cultural initiatives map of Ukraine;
  • and what seems to be an obvious thing, to create a dialogue between the conventional: the centre and the periphery, junior and senior generations, east and west of Ukraine.

Errors and cynicism of ogranisations operating in conflict areas

What is the sense of countless trainings, seminars, workshops, meetings, forums and a dozen of other “creative” forms on the use of Western donors in post-socialist countries? The lecture of Polish-Georgian activist Marta Gawinek-Dagargulia pushed all to reflect on the efficiency of what is done in the public sector. Marta works in Zugdidi near the Abkhaz-Georgian border, where there are 36 NGOs, and only three or four of them are active according to her.

The example of Georgia clearly shows errors and cynicism of organisations operating in conflict areas. Once the problems are solved, journalists and NGOs leave the territory although the activities of NGOs make sense only if conflict is prolonged and regular. Another problem is the real participation of those whom the projects are created for to help. Most organisations work off the grant, and it does not matter how people are actually involved and who is involved exactly. The third problem is the equitable distribution of resources. Western donors are willing to give huge grants, and small organisations are not able to get them. “Who is getting all those big sums of money? Where are the results of the projects funded by Western donors in Luhansk and Donetsk regions?” asked Jaroslav Minkin, Chairman of Youth Association “STAN”.

Another problem of NGOs in post-conflict areas is the exploitation of the victims. We understand that grant money has flowed to Ukraine now for projects related to internally displaced people. Speaking without euphemisms, there is demand for immigrants. Organisations must understand the responsibility of their activities not to evoke the feeling like “they came to us, used and threw us away”, told the Moderator of Ukraine Lab from Tbilisi Teona Dalakishvili.

A cultural map of Ukraine

The other question that the most cultural leaders are interested in is the need to realise what is going on in the cultural sphere in different parts of Ukraine. In other words, it is a good idea to have something like a cultural map of Ukraine. Ukrainian Cultural Network (the project of the Centre for Cultural Management in Lviv) made an attempt to implement it, but languidly and without enthusiasm. Today it is clear that low-cost flights in the near future will connect the East and the West, the North and the South, so we want to see what is happening and where, at least online. Maybe we need a social network just for cultural activists? Today, thanks to personal relationships, we learn what is happening in other regions in Ukraine, but still it is impossible to see the whole picture. After all, Ukraine is not unique in this regard, but that was us who desperately felt the need to communicate, know and understand how other cities and parts of the country live.

Another aspect of this problem is those cultural sector workers or activists who due to various reasons are now living at Crimea and on the occupied territories in Luhansk and Donetsk regions. Now it just looks like we want to simply forget that they exist. However, the experience of the same Abkhazia shows, if we lose these contacts, a few years later no dialogue will be possible at all. At the same time, it is unclear how to speak to each other, how both parties should overcome emotions and despair.

“The goal of UkraineLab is to create common space for people who could share experiences and give people time to reflect on their location relative to others, feel that they are not alone”, says Anastasia Maksymova, the Moderator of UkraineLab.

Processes in Kiev are no less important than those occuring in the regions

UkraineLab introduced people from Chernihiv, Ostroh, Kremenchuh, Chernivtsi, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kyiv, and gave them time and space to talk. Kharkiv Theatre “Na Zhukah”, Kiev Theatre for Dialogue and Playback Theatre “Plemia” from Chernivtsi got to know what everyone else was doing. Ostroh media laboratory J-Lab acquainted with Ivano-Frankivsk independent magazine Ufra. There was a dialogue not only between people from different  regions. People from Kiev saw that we also have good initiatives in distant areas – where you cannot go to by fast trains – which develop the smaller cities in the regions and which did not tend to leave to the centre, to Kiev. It gives a chance to understand that processes in the capital are no less important than those occurring in the region of Rivne like the Buchach Art-Yard or Pluhaky craft farm.

“My German colleague from MitOst, who occasionally comes to Ukraine, said that earlier at the forums for organisations he saw that people were not willing to cooperate by analysing their body language. Now he has noticed that people are completely open and realise that we have to help each other. I would like it to turn into a culture of consolidation”, says Alona Karavai.

The fact that large organisations are willing to share experience and self-organised initiatives are developing once again proves that there are new meanings and actions emerging in Ukraine. At the same time, I felt the absence of the representatives of the platform developing the culture strategy “Culture-2025” and Culture Activists Congress, whose meeting was held at the same time as the UkraineLab. Despite all the talks of unity, it is clear that we continue to exist in isolation – although no longer alone, but separately in little groups.

UkraineLab is an interdisciplinary platform for a smart networking and cross-sectorial cooperation of change makers as well as a think tank where visions and innovations for civil society and culture in Ukraine can be born. In the pilot year of 2015 the programme started with two big cross-sectorial forums:
“UkraineLab: Best practices and interdisciplinary approaches in the civil society and culture for the (after)-crisis period” im March 2015 in Kiev and “UkraineLab: Visions for peace-building and the new role of civil society and culture” in September 2015 in Iwano-Frankiwsk. Besides of this two big cross-sectorial forums an event was organised in May 2015 in Cherksay dedicated especially for facilitators and educators: “Non-formal education. Methods. Reality. Future”.

Read more about the development of UkraineLab in 2016: coordinators Olga Diatel and Alona Karavei share specifics and characteristics of UkrianeLab, this year’s topics and expectations in Each town or villag can be the center of the world | Ukraine.

 


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Refugees in Gevgelija – Somewhere between the past and the future | Macedonia

by Slavica Gjorgieva, Photos by Snezana Dzorleva, Nikola Oprov, Stefan Rusev and Mite Velkov.

I am from Gevgelija. Where that is? Follow the latest news and you’ll find out.

Gevgelija is a city in the very south of Macedonia, nearby the Greek border. The town is well known for hot summery temperatures and also for it’s calmness and quietness. The citizens of Gevgelija are widely known for their generosity and kindness. The town is quiet small: we are 20.000 inhabitants living in an area of 485 km². If you live in a bigger city, Gevgelij is just like one of your many city distircts and neighborhoods. In these days Gevgelij is not calm anymore, nor quiet, maybe just like one of your neighborhoods… .

Children of refugees playing games with a photographer. Photo by Snezana Dzorleva .

Children of refugees playing games with a photographer.
Photo: Snezana Dzorleva

During the last months, we have witnessed thousands and thousands of destinies. Families, children, babies, young, educated, non-educated, middle-aged men, tired women … . Some of them have found their happiness around Gevgelija, I’ve heard of some mixed marriages, while others have continued to write their stories somewhere else … .

Child at the railway station in Gevgelija. Photo by Nikola Oprov.

Child at the railway station in Gevgelija.
Photo: Nikola Oprov

In general we sympathise with the refugees and we try to walk a mile in their shoes. We try to imagine: How it is to leave your home, your life, your dreams and to be forced to dive into the unknown, for good or for the worse. From day one, local people were sharing water, bread and other elementary goods with the people who crossed their daily routine. The local people are willing to help. Well, most of us are, but there are also those who try to benefit from this situation. But, there are just too many refugees and Gevgelija is too small and not well enough equipped to face this situation alone.

The bridge between the border and Gevgelija. Photo by Snezana Dzorleva.

The bridge between the border and Gevgelija. Photo: Snezana Dzorleva.

Every winter our local and national governments are caught by surprise by the snow in the middle of January. The same thing happened now – they were caught by surprise by the refugee waves in September this year – after one year, more or less, of shadow transit that they were denying to officially acknowledge until a tragedy happened – there were numerous accidents on the railway track – and they could not ignore it anymore. And what is even more alarming, they were surprised two months after the legal 72-hours of transit was allowed by them.

Tracks and railway station in Gevgelija. Photo by Stefan Rusev.

Tracks and railway in Gevgelija. Photo:Stefan Rusev.

So, instead of put up a decent refugee camp near the town, the migrants were sent to spend their time during their short stay directly in the heart of Gevgelija. First, they occupied the public area near the railway and bus station. Then, they began to set their tents in public parks and sometimes on the streets. This became intimidating for the local citizens, because it was getting harder to move around the town. People had to “fight” for a train or bus ticket, although there was a train transport organised for refugees only. It was and still is impossible to get a taxi for a local drive.

Town park in Gevgelija. Photo by Nikola Oprov.

Town park in Gevgelija. Photo Nikola Oprov.

The dissatisfaction culminated when the number of refugees increased and spread around Gevgelija and when they began to settle on private properties and in private building entrances, leaving garbage behind or often using them as public bathrooms. Luckily, so far, no bad incident happened – no fights, no serious robberies. But, when surrounded by so many unknown people, regardless of their background stories, I became scared and worried. And I know my friends were, too.

Street in Gevgelija between the bus station on the left and the tracks on the right. Photo by Mite Velkov.

Street in Gevgelija between the bus station on the left and the tracks on the right.
Photo Mite Velkov.

After strong social media reactions and continuous daily chit-chat on this topic, now refugees are not allowed to enter Gevgelija anymore. They spend their days and nights in the so-called “camp” between the Greek-Macedonian border and the town. Here they have to wait patiently for their documents and after that, they have to take a double-priced train or bus to Tabanovce to cross the Macedonian-Serbian border.

Entrance to Gevgelija, these days known as the “bus street”. Photo by Snezana Dzorleva.

Entrance to Gevgelija, these days known as the “bus street”. Photo Snezana Dzorleva.

Why so-called-camp? Because a tent is a good part-time solution for the summer. Here comes the rainy September, almost looking straight into the eye of the windy souht-east winter, a tent reminds of a bad movie you would like to turn off!

Refugees turning a gas station into a camping area. Photo by Stefan Rusev.

Refugees turning a gas station into a camping area. Photo Stefan Rusev.

The refugee camp is open for donations. They are coming in numerous forms from individuals and NGOs – water, food (that has to pass the adequate inspection), clothes, blankets, toys, cosmetics. Usually they are not enough. People who have visited the camp – you need a special permission to go inside – say it is very organised, with lot of activists from UNHCR, UNICEF, Red Cross and other organisations. They have doctors in the camp, and also, there are separate tents for families, for mothers and children and so on. It is well secured with civil and military police. It seems decent. Let’s just hope that it will be prepared for winter in time and that it has enough capacity for all the refugees.

Refugees with a backpack full of hopes and dreams. Photo by Snezana Dzorleva.

Refugees with a backpack full of hopes and dreams. Photo Snezana Dzorleva.

All in all, the situation for refugees has been improved compared to previous months. It is good, but it can be much better. It will not pass by soon, so it must be taken  seriously on global level. Obviously, we cannot stop the war in the Middle East. But we can do the next best thing and find a solution which will fit all the parties involved. Building walls ins’t one!

(Many thanks to my fellow-citizens who have allowed me to use their photo material to illustrate in this article.)

Slavica is a young activist from Gevgelija, Macedonia, with previous experience as a writer on society related topics. She is active in various NGOs, including one she founded herself. She was a participant in the Balkans, let’s get up! programme in 2011, when she and her Bosnian partner implemented the project “Don’t judge me” – a project about ethnic (in)tolerance and youth activism in both societies. Since then she supports BLGU as a mentor, always available to help new participants`s personal growth.


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Visiting Ivano-Frankivsk – Crossing the Russian-Ukrainian Border | Ukraine

by Sergei Shalamov, member of the board of MitOst e.V.
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Almost a year ago the board of MitOst made an important decision to hold the 13th International MitOst-Festival in Ivano-Frankivsk in Western Ukraine. The decision, which is both important and difficult, well matched with the political and social realities of the new world we have been living in for a year and a half. For us, it was and still is an invitation to a deliberate, fruitful dialogue based on mutual respect, to reflect and to find solutions for old and new challenges, as well as participate actively in reducing the degree of separation in the society and in returning the situation to a peaceful course.

The board of MitOst is frank to a dialogue about the decision to hold the festival in Ukraine. Safety of participants of the festival is an important criterion when choosing a venue for the festival. Many facilitators and coordinators of cooperation programmes and projects of MitOst regularly travel to Ukraine for seminars and other events. Therefore, we can say with confidence that our routes are fine-tuned. And in order to convince those who are particularly incredulous, I decided to demonstrate with my own example that fears and nervousness, cultivated by media and the Internet, are often groundless, and even men between the age of 25 to 60 can enter the territory of the neighboring state without any problems. Thus, on June 6th I arrived in Ukraine for the first time to see how life in Ivano-Frankivsk is like, how our festival team is doing and imagine what can be expected for the September.

What is special in Ivano-Frankivsk?
It is a city with 350 years of history, one of cultural centers of the country with a rich heritage and great potential. The town isn’t big – about 230 thousand inhabitants – and very cozy. The majestic church stands here side by side with the giant Soviet-built office building and the streets wander between the epochs of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Republic of Poland, the Soviet Union and independent Ukraine. But the most important are the people who live in Ivano-Frankivsk. Three days are not enough to get to know the character of a city and it’s inhabitants. But I may say with certainty that the youngsters of Ivano-Frankivsk, who simply joking on controversial topics (“I am a banderovka” = “I am a follower of nationalistic movement”), do not seem amenable to political influence, probably because of being as yet light-minded. The young people remain curious, sociable and active, with a strong motivation to make their country better. And, on the other hand, I was greatly impressed by local entrepreneur and public agents, who are ready to work in a completely new format, gushing with ideas and, for sure, loving their town and developing it. After the so-called “Perm cultural project” in Russia was shut down and cooperation between the government, the society and business in the field of “non-state” culture has been curtailing the development in Ivano-Frankivsk is to me like a breath of fresh air and poignant nostalgia at once (Video about Ivano-Frankisvk).

What is important to know?
Visiting MitOst-Festival is safe. And no matter what your nationality is and what language you speak. Obviously, the south-eastern parts of the country, in which military actions are being conducted, are unwanted to go (check  travel and safety information, here you’ll find the information from the Federal Foreign Office about traveling to Ukriane). But in Ivano-Frankivsk, Lviv, as in much regions of the country, people are living a peaceful life: getting married, reading books, having fun on Saturday nights, working weekdays and so on, and wishing you all the same. During a few days of my stay, I have never felt a negative attitude towards myself as a citizen of the Russian Federation: you’re free to ask people in the streets for directions or order dinner at a restaurant, or go with car sharing to another city, with talking Russian, and they’ll tell you, in fact – start a conversation, and probably won’t even recognize you are a foreigner without a pass check because it is not obvious that you are not by origin from those regions of Ukraine, where people traditionally speak more Russian.

What is the procedure of crossing the border of Ukraine?
Nothing extraordinary, but some special procedure runs for the Russians. You will need a foreign passport, an invitation from the local partner of MitOst indicating the purpose of your visit, booking a return ticket and a hotel reservation, an insurance policy, as well as some money with you in order to prove your ability to pay during your stay. Copies of the invitation and the other papers should be enough, but you’d rather have “hard” copies as well. New is the necessity of holding an interview before you’re allowed to cross the border. In my case, three cute border officers in a separate room asked me to show all the necessary papers, and five minutes later I was easily getting my luggage.

Won’t there any problems appear when crossing the border on the way to Ukraine or returning home?
No. Border Guard Service of the Russian Federation in Vnukovo was barely interested in a direction, or a purpose of my trip. Despite the political difficulties, our countries remain in close contact, and citizens of both countries are constantly crossing the common border.

On behalf of the Board of MitOst I kindly invite you to participate and join the 13th International MitOst-Festival, which will take place from the 23rd until the 27th  of September 2015. Seeing is believing. Welcome!

If you have any questions, want to share your story of travel to Ukraine or leave a comment, you can contact me via shalamov(at)mitost.org


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Visiting Ivano-Frankivsk – Crossing the Russian-Ukrainian Border by Sergei Shalamov (MitOst e.V.) ist lizenziert unter einer Creative Commons Namensnennung – Nicht kommerziell – Keine Bearbeitungen 4.0 International Lizenz.

The International MitOst Festival is a meeting point for all those who are interested in cultural and civic exchange in Europe and its neighbouring regions. It brings together thinkers and activists, experts and newcomers. A diverse programme with more than 80 events provides space for networking, learning, reflection and inspiration. Since its premier in the Hungarian city Pécs in 2003, the festival has been migrated through Europe and taken place every year in another city. Check out the website mitostfestival.org/en/.
MitOst promotes cultural exchange and active citizenship in Europe and its neighbouring regions. With 1.400 members in 40 different countries as well as with various partners we are part of a dynamic European network. We organise international programmes and projects and serve as a platform for new forms of social engagement and projects. The annual International MitOst Festival brings our network together.


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The Voice of Civil Society in Armenia

by Diana Chobanya, coordination team of EcoLab

We are living in an increasingly globalized world, where walls are crumbling and falling every day. The fall of barriers between nations exposes us to global diversity and variety. We need to embrace this multiculturalism and human variety in order to keep up with the rest of the global community. Globalization and technical advancements have undoubtedly accelerated and improved the way we vote, protest, learn and live. These developments have led to the strengthening of civil society in almost all parts of the world.

In Armenia, the voice of civil society is becoming louder and more confident, thus contributing to democratic governance, transparency and participatory politics. The unrestricted voice of Armenian civil society can now be heard on the streets of Yerevan, in marzes (regions of Armenia) and all over social media platforms. The vestige of Soviet authoritarian and paternalistic political processes is however unfortunately still evident in Armenia. Its consequence is ruthless and shocking social injustice, and persistent violation of human rights and democratic values resulting in social apathy and emigration.
In the current situation, education and empowerment of the young generation is one of the best recipes for bringing about positive change. In order to be active members of the global community, young people need to be well informed about global challenges, respectful of other cultural and religious practices, and have a decent understanding of their role as change-makers in our society.

RA Ministry of Education and Science introduced a reform called “Education Quality and Relevance” to develop the post-Soviet educational system in newly-independent Armenia. The reform responded to outdated educational standards and textbooks, inconsistencies in assessment, and the predominance of teacher-centred teaching methods (Tovmasyan & Thoma, 2008). In 2000, the RA Ministry of Education and Science decided to amend the state curricula for secondary education by adding “human rights, civic education, and state and law”. Starting with 2001 these “legal block” subjects were taught in secondary school for eighth to tenth grades (Gyulbudaghyan, Petrosyan, Tovmasyan & Zohrabyan, 2007, p. 21).

Studies have shown that civic education is no longer an abstract subject that teachers struggle to comprehend. The Ministry of Education and Science has introduced informative and useful textbook and thematic trainings/seminars for teachers. Nonetheless, the subjects they have introduced fail to equip students with civic skills, emphasizing only the knowledge of rights and responsibilities. The Citizen’s Awareness and Participation in Armenia Survey (IFES, 2003) confirms that young adults (18-25 years old) are not only less interested and involved in politics but also have a lower level of civic participation that those aged 26 and above. It can therefore be concluded that there is a gap in the civic education of the young people in Armenia which consequently leads to low social consciousness and awareness and an even lower level of civic activism.

The Ministry has acknowledged the need for high-quality civic instruction which would fill the gap in civic education in the Armenian context. Nevertheless, it has failed to take adequate measures and, as a result, young Armenians lack civic competencies and skills. Fortunately, the civil sector has taken over and started offering civic trainings, courses and seminars which combine civic “knowledge” with its practical application. These educational measures use synergies from formal and non-formal education to deliver breath-taking content. The hallmark of these courses is that they not only enhance the learners’ knowledge about civil society, but also shape learners’ civic competencies and promote active citizenship and democratic values. EcoLab, the active citizenship project that I coordinate is a vivid illustration of how an NGO project can empower and educate young people more efficiently than the school curriculum on civic education. I myself am a “product” of EcoLab, which provided the civic education that the educational system did not.

Overall, I am hopeful that similar projects, which nurture learners’ civic literacy and emphasize such core concepts as democracy, rights and responsibilities, will be offered more widely. Also, I hope that by that time the Ministry of Education will appreciate both independent and autonomous learning and higher civic participation, and include both in its comprehensive list of educational objectives.

EcoLab
Diana Chobanyan is part of the coordination team of EcoLab. EcoLab empowers young Armenians to change their local community by fostering sustainable development. Participants implement their own projects in small teams in their cities and villages. These projects focus on sustainable local economy, non-formal education and community mobilisation. EcoLab is an cooperation program of Theodor-Heuss-Kolleg. More information on theodor-heuss-kolleg.de.

lizenzbild The Voice of Civil Society in Armenia by Diana Chobanyan (MitOst e.V.) ist lizenziert unter einer Creative Commons Namensnennung – Nicht kommerziell – Keine Bearbeitungen 4.0 International Lizenz.


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NGO-Szene Bulgarien

Sie arbeiten für unterschiedliche NGOs in Bulgarien. Rozalina Laskova, Yanina Taneva und Svetozar Gradev schauen auf ihre eigene Arbeit und die Entwicklungen der NGOs in Bulgarien. Sie reflektieren über die Bürgerprotestbewegung der letzten Jahre und deren Auswirkungen auf die NGOs im Land. Sie schauen gemeinsam in die Zukunft Bulgariens.

Rozalina Laskova
Hintergrund: Geschäftsführerin der Iliev Dance Art Foundation in Sofia, freiberufliche Kulturmanagerin und Beraterin zu Themen wie Kultur- und Kreativindustrien, EU-Finanzierung, Social Entrepreneurship und kulturelle Bildung
Interessen: Kunst, Medien und Demokratie, (Social) Innovation, Führung
Die größte Herausforderung der letzten Monate für dich: Den größtmöglichen Nutzen aus meiner Teilnahme an einem großen, transatlantischen Leadership Development Programm – dem Marshall Memorial Fellowship der GMF – zu ziehen.
Organisation: Iliev Dance Art Foundation
Aktivitäten: Tanzkunst – Tanztraining, Community-Projekte und -produktionen
Ort: Sofia, Bulgarien
Aktiv seit: 2008
Motivation eine NGO zu gründen: Die Notwendigkeit professionelle Tanzausbildung zu fördern und zu verbessern sowie die Tanzkunstszene in Bulgarien nach Weltstandards zu entwickeln.

Yanina Taneva
Hintergrund: Medien, Kulturanthropologie, Theaterwissenschaften in der sozialen Psychotherapie.
Interessen: Kollektive Intelligenz, Bürger, die ihre Kreativität in die Tat umsetzen
Die größte Herausforderung der letzten Monate für dich: Der Versuch kommunale und staatliche Verwaltung in Vorhaben einzubeziehen und deren Verständnis für die Bedeutung der Worte „Zusammenarbeit“ und „Innovation“ zu schärfen.
Organisation: IDEAS FACTORY
Aktivitäten: Soziale Innovation, Social Innovation Challenge, Changemakers Academy, Forum Theater, Baba Residence
Ort: Sofia und Plovdiv, Bulgarien
Aktiv seit: 2007
Motivation eine NGO zu gründen: Themen, die ungehört sind, eine Stimme geben. Zugleich wollen wir neue Methoden finden, ihnen zu begegnen und mit ihnen umzugehen.

Svetozar Gradev
Hintergrund: Ökonom und Ingenieur
Interessen: Projektmanagement, Nachhaltige Entwicklung, Ökonomie und Internationale Beziehungen
Die größte Herausforderung der letzten Monate für dich: Die Vorbereitung von zwei Projekten in der Donauregion gefördert durch EEA Grants und Norway Grants.
Organisation: Novo Badeste (auf deutsch „Neue Zukunft“)
Aktivitäten der NGO: Mit der Stärkung von jungen Erwachsenen und deren Gemeinschaften setzt sich Novo Badeste für nachhaltige Entwicklung und die nachhaltige Nutzung von Ressourcen ein.
Größe: 100 Mitglieder
Ort: Burgas, Bulgarien
Aktiv seit: 2007
Motivation eine NGO zu gründen: Die Entwicklung einer aktiven Zivilgesellschaft in Bulgarien, die Stärkung des Umweltbewusstseins durch Projektarbeit, Partnerschaften und Einbindung von Entscheidungsträgern, und die Identifikation mit europäischen Werten und Ideen in der Bulgarischen Gesellschaft zu stärken.

Hatten die Proteste in Bulgarien von 2013 Auswirkung auf den NGO-Sektor?
Yanina: Es wurde deutlich, dass viele NGOs an den realen Bedürfnissen und Interessen unserer Gesellschaf vorbei wirken. Diese Entwicklung hat den erfrischenden Effekt, dass die Rolle von NGOs in der Gesellschaft in Bulgarien überdacht wird. Mir stellte sich in diesem Zusammenhang die Frage, welche Rolle NGOs heute einnehmen, wenn Menschen selbst fähig sind sich über Social Media Kanäle schnell und effizient zu organisieren.
Ähnlich, wie in den meisten osteuropäischen Ländern, bildete sich in den 1990er Jahren ein NGO-Sektor, der eher korrupt war. Dadurch litt das Ansehen von NGOs in der Bevölkerung. Heute formt sich der Sektor neu und organisch und es bildet sich eine starke und parteienunabhängige Zivilgesellschaft. Sie existiert unabhängig vom NGO-Sektor. Diese Entwicklung zeigt, dass gesellschaftlicher Wandel durch die Gesellschaft selbst angestrebt werden muss, nicht durch einen bestimmten Sektor.
Rozalina: Die Protestbewegung hat einen Teil der Bulgarischen Gesellschaft – einzelne Menschen, Aktivisten und NGOs – zusammengebracht und ihr Engagement über die aktuellen Proteste hinaus aktiviert. Viele NGOs wurden ermutigt, ihre Stimme zu erheben. Die Zivilgesellschaft und NGOs wurden trotz dieser positiven Effekte nicht nur gestärkt. Es gab auch Kampagnen in den Medien, die diese Entwicklung sehr negativ darstellten.
Svetozar: Ein positiver Effekt ist, dass Politiker nun Respekt und vielleicht auch etwas Angst vor der Zivilgesellschaft in Bulgarien haben. Sie nehmen den Einfluss der Menschen ernster. Die Protestbewegung in Bulgarien hat Einfluss auf die Entwicklung politischer Strukturen im Land. Akteure aus dem NGO-Sektor werden zunehmend von der Politik eingeladen, sich an Debatten zu beteiligen.
Yanina: Nicht zuletzt haben die Menschen hier verstanden, dass sie gemeinsam mehr erreichen können, gerade wenn es darum geht, wie in Bulgarien, ein politisches und korruptes System zu verändern. Es bildeten sich Koalitionen verschiedener Interessensgruppen. Der Antrieb der Leute liegt darin, dass sie sich durch die Politiker nicht gut vertreten fühlen. Wie in vielen anderen Ländern auf der Welt, sind auch in Bulgarien 65% der Bevölkerung nicht im Parlament vertreten und somit von Entscheidungsprozessen ausgeschlossen.

In welchen Bereichen engagieren sich NGOs?
Rozalina: Ich würde sagen, in den Bereichen Umweltschutz, Sozialfürsorge, Jugend und Bildung sowie im Kulturbereich sind die NGOs hierzulande sehr aktiv.
Svetozar: Ich habe einen ähnlichen Eindruck. Es gibt viele Aktivitäten rund um Umweltschutz, Sport und Kultur und im sozialen Bereich. Inhaltlich beschäftigen sich auch viele NGOs mit Sinti und Roma.
Yanina: In den letzten Jahren hat das Thema Umweltschutz tausende Menschen mobilisiert. Eine Bewegung engagierter Bürger, die sich für die Reformierung unseres Bildungssystems einsetzt, hat sich gebildet. Grundsätzlich sind bulgarische NGOs in Bereichen der Sozialfürsorge sehr aktiv. Sie übernehmen Aufgaben, die eigentlich durch den Staat getragen werden sollten. Ein Beispiel dafür: das Engagement in Kinder- und Waisenheimen. Diese Institutionen sind ein unmenschliches Überbleibsel aus sozialistischen Zeiten. Neue Themen sind Migration und das Recht von Migranten, die mit den Konflikten im Nahen Osten aufgekommen sind. Die Flüchtlingsbewegung löste eine unglaubliche und sehr wichtige Debatte innerhalb der Gesellschaft aus und führte auch zu Meinungspolarisierung in Bezug auf die Rechte von ethnischen sowie religiösen Minderheiten, die seit Jahrhunderten in Bulgarien leben. Im Zuge dessen gründeten sich viele neue Initiativen.

Welche Themen sind unpopulär?
Svetozar: Menschenrechte und Menschenrechtsverletzungen. Meiner Meinung nach auch Sozialunternehmertum.
Yanina: Das Gesundheitssystem, welches nicht zuletzt verantwortlich ist für viele Menschenrechtsverletzungen und der fehlende Zugang zum Gesundheitswesen. Tabuisiert wird auch die Thematik Armut und ihre Wurzeln sowie Homosexualität und die Kontrolle über die Verwendung von öffentlichen Geldern.
Rozalina: Mir fällt auf, dass Fragen rund um das Älterwerden und alte Menschen vernachlässigt werden. Es ist schwer zu sagen, denn in allen Bereichen gibt es unbeliebte Themen. NGOs tendieren oft dazu auf akute Probleme und Herausforderungen zu reagieren und eher „sichtbare“ Themen in ihrer Arbeit aufzugreifen.

Was ist die größte Errungenschaft für den NGO-Sektor in Bulgarien in den letzten Jahren?
Yanina: Gerechtigkeit, im rechtlichen Sinne, und Umweltbelange sind öffentliche Angelegenheiten. In den letzten Jahren ist das Bewusstsein und das Verständnis dafür ist gewachsen.
Rozalina: Wir ringen um mehr Mitspracherecht in politischen Prozessen und Entscheidungsprozessen. Wir sind dabei nicht immer erfolgreich, es ist aber auch eine wirklich große Herausforderung. In den letzten Jahren wurden immer wieder politische Entscheidungen überdacht und letztendlich neu verhandelt auf Grund der Proteste und Aktionen von NGOs. Das ist ein echter Erfolg. Dass unsere Aktivitäten etwas bewirken macht Hoffnung und es stärkt die Zivil Gesellschaft in Bulgarien. Es wurde auch eine Strategie für die Entwicklung von Organisationen der Zivilgesellschaft auf Regierungsebene erarbeitet, nur wurde sie bis heute nicht wirklich umgesetzt.
Svetozar: Die Proteste haben etwas bewirkt. Dank ihrer konnten beispielsweise mehrere Nationalparks vor Baumaßnahmen bewahrt werden. Ein Erfolgsmoment für mich persönlich war, als Novo badeste von der Europäischen Kommission 2013 einen Preis im Rahmen der Sustainable Urban Mobility Campaign „DO THE RIGHT MIX“ gewann.

Gibt es regionale oder spezielle Herausforderungen, denen die NGOs in Bulgarien begegnen?
Rozalina: Viele Organisationen neigen dazu, zu reagieren und nicht zu agieren. Statt Lösungsvorschläge und konstruktive Ideen anzubieten oder gute Lösungsansätze zu unterstützen, werden sie nur aktiv gegen bestimmte Entscheidungen oder gesellschaftliche Probleme. NGOs bewegen sich in Bulgarien in einem unsicheren rechtlichen Raum. Die Beschneidung der Meinungs- und Pressefreiheit in Bulgarien macht deutlich, in welchem Rahmen NGOs sich oftmals mit ihren Aktivitäten bewegen. Zudem gibt es keine nachhaltige Finanzierung durch den Staat. Es gibt keinen Wettbewerb um staatliche Förderungen.
Yanina: Die Medien sind an einem Ort konzentriert, es gibt Zensur und einen Mangel an Förderprogrammen im Gegensatz zum Wachstum des Sektors. Innovative Vorhaben brauchen Förderungen im Rahmen von 2.000 bis 20.000 Euro an Stelle einer Projektförderung von 250.000 Euro. Der Mehrwert wäre viel höher, auf Bedürfnisse in den Regionen könnte besser reagiert werden.
Svetozar: Herausforderungen, wie Umweltverschmutzung, der Aufbau einer starken Zivilgesellschaft, Arbeitslosigkeit und auch Integration der Roma und Sinti werden in den Teilregionen Bulgariens oft nicht wahrgenommen. Im Mittelpunkt steht die Hauptstadt. Das liegt wohl an daran, dass dort auch die Politik gemacht wird.

Wie ist die Haltung der bulgarischen Bevölkerung gegenüber NGOs?
Yanina: NGOs, die sich durch ausländische Mittel finanzieren, stehen dem Vorwurf gegenüber, auch ausländische Interessen zu vertreten. Diese Haltung ist nicht mehr weit verbreitet, existiert aber.
Rozalina: Vor ein paar Jahren kam es häufig vor, dass Parteien oder Unternehmen Stiftungen und Organisationen gründeten, um Projektmittel bei der EU zu beantragen, die dann nicht für die geplanten Vorhaben eingesetzt wurden. Das hat Misstrauen geschaffen. Wenn heute Stiftungen Initiative oder Projekte starten sind die Menschen noch immer skeptisch. Jedoch ist die Haltung der Gesellschaft gegenüber dem Dritten Sektor Zusehens besser und differenzierter. Die Änderungen auf nationalem Level im Rahmen der EU-Förderprogramme schaffen bessere Kontrollen und höhere Transparenz, wo und wie die Gelder eingesetzt werden.
Svetozar: Das sehe ich auch so. Diese Art von NGOs, gegründet auf den Interessen von Politikern, Parteien oder Unternehmen, führte nicht zu einer Entwicklung einer Zivilgesellschaft oder einem positiven gesellschaftlichen Wandel. Jetzt gibt es unabhängige Organisationen, die von der Bevölkerung unterstützt werden. Im Moment vor allem durch ehrenamtliche Hilfe, der Finanzkrise geschuldet, ist eine sehr geringe finanzielle Unterstützung.

Wächst das zivilgesellschaftliche Engagement innerhalb der Bevölkerung?
Rozalina: Immer mehr Leute investieren ihre Zeit in ehrenamtliches Engagement. Sie sind aktiv in ihren Gemeinden, engagieren sich für NGOs oder beteiligen sich an gesellschaftlichen Bewegungen. Diese Beobachtung macht mich sehr glücklich.
Yanina: Die Menschen bestehen stärker darauf, ihre Gesellschaft, ihr Land mitzugestalten. Diese Entwicklung ist nicht nur in Bulgarien zu beobachten. Die politischen Entscheidungsträger der letzten 70 Jahre haben daran gearbeitet, dass die Bulgaren heute wenig Vertrauen in Politik haben. In einem System, das so kaputt ist, ist dies die richtige Haltung und ihr Aktivismus ist eine absolut richtige Antwort darauf.

Wer ist in die Aktivitäten deiner NGO involviert?
Svetozar: Wir beziehen Ehrenamtliche der Jugendarbeit ein. Wir binden auch Entscheidungsträger und Politiker auf lokaler sowie regionaler Ebene ein. Bei unseren Aktivitäten sind meist junge Leute involviert. Das hängt immer vom Projekt und den jeweiligen Zielgruppen ab. Repräsentanten unserer Partnerorganisationen beteiligen sich auch.
Yanina: Unsere Changemakers aus dem Changmakers-Network und natürlich die Mitarbeiter und alle ehrenamtlichen Helfer arbeiten mit uns zusammen. Involviert sind NGOs, die sich mit ähnlichen Themen beschäftigen. Dazu kommen Medienvertreter und das Netzwerk um die „European Capital of Culture 2019 – Plovdiv“ sowie Zielgruppen mit denen unsere Alumni arbeiten und interagieren.
Rozalina: Die meisten Menschen sind mit unserer Vision und unseren Aktivitäten verbunden, zum Beispiel die Tänzer selbst, ihre Familien oder auch Teilnehmer unserer Programme sowie Menschen die Kunst und Tanz mögen.

Wie viele Mitarbeiter und/oder ehrenamtliche Helfer sind an eure NGO gebunden?
Svetozar: Für Novo Badeste arbeiten im Moment fünf Leute und die Organisation wird von drei Leuten gesteuert – den Vorstandsmitgliedern. An der konkreten Umsetzung unserer Projekte, Aktivitäten und Kampagnen arbeiten etwa zwanzig junge Ehrenamtliche mit.
Yanina: Unser Team besteht aus sieben Leuten. Unser Changemakers-Netzwerk besteht aus über hundert Alumni. In den letzten drei Jahren begleiteten uns zehn Praktikanten und mehr als sechzig Ehrenamtliche haben sich beteiligt.
Rozalina: Wir haben drei festangestellte und etwa fünfzehn externe Mitarbeiter, die regelmäßig mit uns an der Umsetzung von Projekten arbeiten. Für unterschiedliche Kampagnen und Projekte arbeiten jedes Jahr in etwa zehn bis fünfzehn Ehrenamtliche bei uns und drei bis fünf Hospitanten.

Seid ihr mit euren Themen Alleingänger oder habt ihr viele Mitstreiter?
Svetozar: Bei all unseren Vorhaben setzen wir auf die Zusammenarbeit mit Partnern und Förderern. Das gibt uns die Möglichkeit der größtmöglichen Unterstützung unserer Vorhaben, durch Know-How, Austausch und, auch sehr wichtig, Feedback und konstruktive Kritik für unsere Arbeit.
Yanina: Wir haben es geschafft Teil eines guten und großen Netzwerks zu werden, was sich jeden Tag auszahlt. Partnerschaften, Koalitionen und Netzwerke sind für gesellschaftliche Veränderungen unerlässlich, im Alleingang kann man das nicht bewirken. Eine unserer letzten Bemühungen war das Projekt EMPATHEAST, für das wir mehr als 40 Partner gewinnen konnten.
Rozalina: In Bulgarien gibt es glücklicherweise viele aktive Organisationen, die ihr Arbeitsfeld den Darstellenden Künste widmen. Genau wie wir engagieren sie sich in der Kulturpolitik, bemühen sich die bestehenden Strukturen zu verbessern oder zu verändern, auch in Kooperation mit Ministerien und staatlichen Behörden.
Mit wem arbeitet ihr zusammen?

Habt ihr regionale Partner und/oder internationale Kooperationen?
Svetozar: Wir haben regionale und international Partner, andere Organisationen und auch Behörden wie zum Beispiel das Youht Information Centre, Thracian Society “Exarch Antim I”, Ideas factory, Veloevolution, National Cycling Association oder das Czech Centrum Sofia. Auf internationaler Ebene arbeiten wir mit EUROCITIES, dem Regional Environmental Center Romania, dem Regional Environmental Center Turkey, dem Caucasian House – Georgia und natürlich mit MitOst e.V..
Yanina: Wir haben ein gutes internationales Netzwerk in Europa und in Afrika, natürlich auch auf dem Balkan. Unsere Partner sind Romania – Art Fusion, Balkans – SEEYN, London – LEAD International, wir haben Partner in Tansania, Uganda, Ghana und im Senegal, um nur einige zu nennen.
Rozalina: Das hängt ganz von dem jeweiligen Projekt und der Initiative ab. Wir arbeiten mit vielen verschiedenen Partnern von der America for Bulgaria Foundation oder der Amerikanischen Botschaft über Gemeinden und Städte wie Sofia und Burgas bis hin zu Institutionen wie Theatern und Kunstschulen zusammen. Gemeinschaftsprojekte führen wir ebenso mit anderen NGOs und Organisationen, die im Bereich Darstellende Kunst tätig sind, in Bulgarien durch.

Seid ihr Teil eines etablierten Netzwerks in diesem Bereich?
Yanina: Wir sind in unserem Teil der Welt gut eingebunden in Netzwerke. Im Bereich Social Impact und Social Innovation kann das Netzwerk in Osteuropa aber noch stärker und verzweigter werden.
Svetozar: Wir sind Mitglied bei MitOst und dem Bulgarian Bicycle Netzwerk. Im Moment arbeiten wir daran in Bulgarien auch ein Netzwerk von Social Entreprenreus und Innovatoren zu etablieren.
Rozalina: Ja, wir sind Teil verschiedener informeller Netzwerke für Darstellende Künste (performing arts) in Bulgarien. Auf einer europäischen Ebene ist das noch nicht der Fall. Da möchten wir gerne hin.

Wie verbreitet sind transsektorale Kooperationen?
Svetozar: Wir arbeiten eng mit regionalen Behörden zusammen und streben bei jedem unserer Projekte eine gemeinsame Implementierung an.
Yanina: Das ist eines unserer größten Anliegen. Wir arbeiten viel mit der Workshop-Methode „World Café“. Dabei bringen wir verschieden Akteure aus der Verwaltung, Kultur und Kunst, Jugendarbeit und den Medien zusammen. Wir laden sie ein, gemeinsam an gesellschaftlichen Veränderungen zu arbeiten. Ich bin überzeugt, dass wir neue Formen des Zusammenkommens dringend brauchen.
Rozalina: In Bulgarien ist das im Moment sehr üblich. Glücklicherweise haben sich in unserem Arbeitsfeld Kooperationen zwischen beispielsweise Kulturorganisationen und Bildungseinrichtungen etabliert.

Wie finanziert ihr eure Arbeit? Wer finanziert die Arbeit eurer NGO?
Svetozar: Wir implementieren Projekte. Für diese beantragen wir Fördergelder bei verschiedenen Programmen in Bulgarien und bei der EU.
Yanina: Wir finanzieren uns über Stiftungsgelder einer amerikanischen Stiftung, durch öffentliche Gelder und EU-Mittel. Wir erhalten auch Spenden. Etwa 8 bis 12 % unserer Einnahmen erwirtschaften wir selbst durch eigene Dienstleistungen.
Rozalina: Wir finanzieren uns über Projektmittel, die meist von größeren ausländischen Organisationen und Kulturinstitutionen oder Botschaften kommen. Dazu kommen kleine Budgets aus kommunalen Töpfen und Spenden von Privatpersonen. Einen Teil der Mittel erwirtschaften wir selbst.

Mit welchen Herausforderungen seid ihr in eurer Tätigkeit konfrontiert?
Svetazor: Wir wollen kontinuierlich unsere Arbeit ausbauen und für eine sichere und zukunftsfähige Finanzierung sorgen. Unser Ziel ist es, auf Maßnahmen und politische Entscheidungen in unserer Region Einfluss nehmen zu können. Das verlangt eine Menge an kreativen Ideen und professioneller Entwicklung.
Yanina: Intern sehe ich Wachstum als eine schöne, aber auch unberechenbare Herausforderung vor der wir stehen. Als externen Faktor, der uns herausfordert, sehe ich Skepsis und Anti-Kampagnen, die einem in diesen Zeiten doch auch entgegenschlagen, wenn man im NGO-Sektor tätig ist.
Rozalina: Langfristig gesehen wird unsere größte Herausforderung die stabile Finanzierung unserer Aktivitäten sein und das Wachstum sowie die Belastbarkeit unserer Organisationsstrukturen.

Das Interview wurde aus dem Englischen ins Deutsche übersetzt von Laura Werling und Mary Dellenbaugh.
lizenzbild
NGO-Szene in Bulgarien (MitOst e.V.) ist lizenziert unter einer Creative Commons Namensnennung – Nicht kommerziell – Keine Bearbeitungen 4.0 International Lizenz.