Small, distant and rural ≠ social risk
In the end of July the Latvian grassroots activists came together for their Summer school to exchange their experience in network making skills they have done and improved lately. They also had to find an answer to one question: How would you explain to an interested foreigner, why small rural communities are a social risk group in Latvia?
Laura Mikelsone, Broceni:
"The situation in the rural districts in Latvia is much worse than in cities, the countrymen are a risk group as such, because the townsmen do not understand them, they are extremely different.. Besides we have all the other social risk groups here: the unemployed and the handicapped; teachers, who remain not understood by the society and who have to fight for their payment and status; the young mothers, seniors, etc.
Aija Semjonova, Iecava:
"The people in distant small rural communities have lost their faith in themselves, they lack motivation, because the living conditions are rather bad there. Together with the loss of job people lose interest in doing something else, therefore it is extremely important to find these people and to restore their faith. When they have returned to the society, whether as a participant of a folklore band or an environmental group, they as if take a second look at their life and look for new possibilities. Grassroots activities give them the possibility to change themselves."
Inguna Badune, Līvāni:
"There exists a wrong presumption that the rural people are not so willing to participate, that they are busy with their cattle and orchards, and the joint activities are not so important to them. But the truth is just the opposite – they need to know that there exists a place where they are welcome once a week or once a month. A place where they can be sincere and frank, where they can be engaged in something that he lacks in his/her everyday life."
Rolands Keišs, Baltinava:
"There are lots of talented people in the countryside who have no possibilities to educate themselves there, and small projects like this one educates the rural people, after participation in exchange visits they stop underestimating their own life and evaluate their achievements in comparison with those of the town people. It is a very good chance for the country-people to progress."