A 10-day study visit of 13 representatives of non-profit organizations and civic initiatives from the South Caucasus to the Central Europe is just under way. The participants came at the invitation of Czech non-profit organization NESEHNUTÍ (Independent Social Ecological Movement), which supports projects and civic initiatives in Abkhazia, Armenia, Georgia and South Ossetia. In the past, this support helped to organize for example the first critical mass in Abkhazia where first bike routes are planned now; in South Ossetia, an interactive workshop focusing on water pollution was organized with the help of students and an illegal dump has been removed; in Armenia, the support went to a women’s centre and a campaign for better accessibility of public places for disabled people. In Georgia, the campaign against excessive use of pesticides in local farming has been launched in cooperation with NESEHNUTÍ.
NESEHNUTÍ has been supporting activities of NGOs, independent journalists and civic initiatives in the South Caucasus for three years. The support is provided mainly in the form of educational trainings and workshops, assistance in campaign planning, etc., as well as small financial subsidies. During the three years NESEHNUTÍ provided financial support amounting altogether to almost CZK 1.000.000 to 26 projects focusing on promotion of civil rights and freedoms, independent media, social projects, environmental issues or support of underprivileged groups of population (refugees, disabled, women, etc.) and their involvement in public life. This year, NESEHNUTÍ has supported 12 activities which also received financial amount exceeding CZK 430.000. The projects that were carefully selected from several dozens of submitted applications focus, among other things, on environmental issues, women’s rights, public services and the needs of the disabled. “We have supported three projects in each area we work in, and several weeks ago, we went directly to the Caucasus to monitor their implementation. It is wonderful to see what local initiatives can do even with a small budget. I hope their tour around the Czech Republic will allow them to see similar projects and to draw inspiration for their work,” said Alena Věžníková, NESEHNUTÍ.
The interns came to Europe where, in the following days, they will see how NGOs with a similar focus work in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. They will also visit the Ombudsman’s office and see the work of Czech media.
Their visit is also unique as it brings together representatives of non-governmental and civil sector from areas that are still in the state of unresolved armed conflict. „We try to support activities in the South Caucasus that show how even under difficult political and social conditions it is possible to develop authentic civic initiatives. That it is possible to press for the promotion of civil rights and freedoms bottom-up, that it is important and possible to help those who are often marginalized and that it is practicable to solve problems that trouble citizens, whether it is water pollution or transport issues,“ explained Milan Štefanec, one of the implementers of the activities, the meaning of NESEHNUTÍ’s work in the Caucasus. The participants from the Caucasus will spend 12 days in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. During this time they will visit many non-profit organizations and media (e.g. Radio Free Europe, Czech Television, Bily kruh bezpečí). In Olomouc, they will have a chance to visit VOŠ Caritas or Hnutí Duha – Friends of the Earth. Their visits abroad will take them to Bratislava and Budapest, where they will, among other things, learn about the activities of Regional Association for Nature Conservation and Sustainable development (BROZ), Fair-Play Alliance or environmental organization Friends of the Earth.
NESEHNUTÍ’s financial resources for their activities in the Caucasus were provided within an open grant procedure from the Czech Foreign Ministry and International Visegrad Fund. NESEHNUTÍ’s work is also supported by individuals from the CR and abroad, who regularly contribute by sending money to a transparent account.
Alena Věžníková, NESEHNUTÍ, +420 739 334 474, firstname.lastname@example.org
Martin Hyťha, NESEHNUTÍ, +420 606 104 784, email@example.com
Milan Štefanec, NESEHNUTÍ, +420 605 239 579, firstname.lastname@example.org