Via on the road. A new way of getting to know initiatives in various parts of the Czech Republic. And a new way for Via Foundation to support people who are engaged in their local communities.
You might say that Christmas came early this year, at least in our Living Communities program. In early December, the Via Living Communities program jury awarded support to 15 projects. The total amount of awarded grants was $48,692 (CZK 1,062,108).
Through this program, VIA provides grants of up to $4,600 (CZK 100,000), educational workshops, and support from an experienced mentor or a fundraising consultant. This comprehensive “package” of support helps strengthen the sustainability and self-sufficiency of local initiatives.
Teams of young people were recently selected to participate in our 2017-2018 Young Philanthropists program. There are more than 200 of these enthusiastic young individuals and they hail from all corners of the Czech Republic. They include groups of friends with shared interests and school groups – 14 teams altogether – which want to help others. Although they are all under the age of 26 and many are still in elementary school, they have more good deeds behind them than many adults!
Through the program, young philanthropists organize benefit events to help individuals and organizations of their own choosing. The teams also get to decide what type of event they will put on. For example, one group might help a disabled friend by holding a charity run, another might help kids in a children’s home through a charitable auction, while another group might organize a charitable bazaar to help a local animal shelter.
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.
Ieva 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 Ieva. 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 Ieva.
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.