We Learn to Learn From Each Other
The Grassroots Europe for Local Wellbeing is the second Project that takes place in Latvia, uniting 18 societies where "The Wings of Hope" organization plays the coordinator and applicant role. Coming from the small but picturesque town of Sigulda, "The Wings of Hope" offers its experience in the grassroots movement both – to the already established colleagues and cooperation partners and the newcomers, who have just started their activities. Eva Vilkina speaks about her impressions and possibilities to share her knowledge no only on the role of small NGOs, but also on the emotionally burdensome work with handicapped kids.
- We have established close cooperation with the organizations who took part in the first season of the activity. We have become very close and keep in constant touch on the phone and digitally if we have some questions or some advice is needed, - Eva Vilkina admits.
17 grassroots organizations from all around Latvia joined "The Wings of Hope" for the second round of the activity that started this year. The twelve grassroots organization from the first year were joined by some newcomers.
- Day by day the new members gain new experience. The "older" members have already established close ties among themselves and I'd say, speak a common language. But we, "The Wings of Hope" share our experience even with the grassroots that have not entered these activities (yet...) We advise them where to look for information and assistance, because we know where the activities in specific spheres take place in Latvia. We can pass the information over to everyone, - Eva Vilkina explains.
At the beginning of august representatives of all the eighteen grassroots organizations met at the so-called Summer school, where they exchanged their experience in networking and learned something new. The most interesting seminar was devoted to time planning, and even there the participants worked in teams (three grassroots in a team).
- This year we have experienced real sustainability, - Eva says. - We strengthen each other through cooperation and share our capacity to implement new activities. We tell others about cooperation with the local government, and the possible manifestations of joint work, as we have developed really good understanding with the local government of Sigulda, where we come from. The main target is to fortify the necessity for the local government to take notice of the activities of the local grassroots. For example, our organization offers service for families with handicapped kids. And the local government purchase these services. Unfortunately, not all the municipalities cooperate with grassroots in this sphere in Latvia. We have been lucky. During these two years people from the governments of various municipalities and NGOs have visited us to learn the experience. It's so valuable to learn that you can share experience that you do not have to invent everything by yourself, - Eva Vilkina sums up.
The experience of the "Wings of Hope" has proved that for the people with various functional disorders to enter the social life and join the life of the community, there should be some place in the community, where to find assistance and support. This is especially important for the families with handicapped kids, who remain alone in their sufferings and fight too often.
- When these people approach us, at the beginning they are given very elementary support and advice. Later step by step the real needs and capacities of the person are tested. We detect, where this person could be involved and included. Only when they leave their house and come to us, we can plan the service these people need. A small grassroots organization can tell them, what support and assistance is needed – Mrs. Vilkina points out.
Unfortunately the grassroots do not know all the people with functional disorders, who need help. Because of the data protection in the country even the social office does not know about their exact number.
- That's why support groups are so important in the local communities, - they gather information about the people and help them. I'd say that the people who take part in this activity are a bit crazy. But the crazy ones are the stronghold of the world.
- It seems to me at times, that I'm doing more than I should, but I understand that there is no sense in staying in your den, and doing just the things that are your direct duties. I'd like to broaden my world outlook, and by participating myself I like involving other people in the activities I'm doing. – We presume that this last remark done by Eva Vilkina from "The Wings of Hope" grassroots organization submits the very essence of voluntary activities that are in the basis of any grassroots movement, wherever they exist and whatever sphere they do their work.