Long ago, this site in the town of Krásno in the Karlovy Vary region served as a cemetery. Today, it is on its way to becoming a park that will serve the town’s current inhabitants. Through a community planning process, the residents themselves will shape the functions and character of the park.
Leva Lāce says she has always been driven by humanitarian projects and initiatives. This passion of hers has taken her to various destinations around the world. For example, as soon as she finished her BA degree, she and two friends founded an international NGO that helps women and children in Sierra Leone. “I remember the movie “Pay It Forward” inspired me, too,” laughs Leva. More recently she has been developing projects in Latvia. “Perhaps sooner or later my work will serve as a bigger example for the world, but for now I want to focus on work here,” explains Leva.
Rural communities in Romania are facing a huge exodus of residents moving to cities or other EU countries, while in Poland there are concerns about the future of democracy. Although each country in the region is characterized by its own set of traits and issues, we lack knowledge about the specific contexts in which our counterparts in neighboring countries work.
In late September, we brought together staff from six Central and Eastern European foundations and other NGOs that support local communities, development of a free society and democracy in their countries. They met in Prague to get to know each other, talk about shared issues and explore the potential of forming a network.
Lazarina Boneva’ s parents have always been active in the social and political life of Bozhurishte in Bulgaria. As a child, Lazarina hated it. Not only were her parents not at home very often, but when they went out for a walk, many people would stop them to talk about “boring” stuff. “I thought that there was no way that I would ever do the same thing as my parents,” smiles Lazarina. She broke her promise when she was 26 years old and took her first volunteer trip to Poland. Since then she has become even more active than her parents – working as a lawyer, running her own NGO and volunteering for her community.
Dijana is from Croatia. When she was a little girl, Dijana lost her father during the Croatian War of Independence. Although she and her mother and brother left their home in Pučišća and moved to Split, Dijana never forgot her hometown on the Croatian island of Brač. She had spent many childhood holidays at her grandparents’ house there and always felt the urge to give her community back what it had given her: happiness. After college she decided to move back to Pučišća. With the help of government funding and the ViabilityNet program, she has become a community leader there. Read More
What community projects in Slovakia can serve as sources of inspiration for the Czech Republic? We set off to see what engaged Slovakians are doing during a site visit in our program ViabilityNet 3.0, through which we support community leaders from Central and Eastern Europe. The leaders supported through ViabilityNet 3.0 are individuals who are trying to engage their neighbors in community projects. They will take part in four meetings and four site visits and receive grants for community projects as well as the support of a mentor to help make their projects successful and sustainable.
This past May, Via Foundation invited the Friends of Via board of directors to participate in a week-long tour of community development projects supported by Via.
From left: William Lafe, Carol Hochman and Marge Petruska on Charles Bridge, Prague