The Common Europe Foundation, located in Warsaw, Poland, organized a competition for non-governmental organizations and informal groups. The aim of the “NGOmap” project was to choose the best local initiatives from the countries of the Eastern Partnership programme: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. 78 projects were submitted through the ngomap.eu website. Six winning projects with highest number of votes were selected.
From 17 to 19 October 2012, leaders of the winning projects participated in the meeting in Warsaw. The main aim was to create a space for participants to meet experts from the Contest Board, to present their projects and to develop plans for their implementation.
Karine Mkhitaryan, the director of the Charitable Fund Yeraz in Armenia, described how her countr’s health care system suffers serious financial deficiencies and is not able to provide adequate care for children with diabetes. For several years Yeraz Fund has worked on behalf of children suffering from this disease in Armenia. Karine is looking for an international support for their activities.
Nilufar Azimli is representative of the “Common Sense” Organisation from Sumgayit in Azerbaijan. Sumgaiyt is a small town situated near the country’s capital, Baku. Nilufar would like to create an art academy – a place for talented young people, where they could work, organize training, seminars on art and host a well-known artist.
Volha Shavela, a student from Belarus, enthusiastically talked about his idea to create a debate clubs for adults. She faces problems with registering an organization, lack of space to hold debates and of teachers and mentors.
Eugenia Radu from Calarasi in Moldova talked about her plans to open a youth center. The main problems were the lack of adequate supplies and finances to develop such a place.
Teras Borkovsky from Zhytomyr in Ukraine stressed the importance of new media, democratization and citizens’ access to public knowledge. Taras works on an online system for city management.
The efects of the joint work of winners and Contest Board experts are plans on further steps to develope each initiative. The Fund Yeraz has been contacted with some Polish medical companies and there is a possibility of sending medical aid to Armenia. Experts helped to make an action-plan for initiatives from Azerbaijan and Belarus. There is a big chance that in a next few months we will hear about first debates organized in Minsk by Volha. Eugenia from Moldova already opened her youth center on 10 November. Experts will help with more ideas to make a youth center in Calarasi a stable and long-term initiative. All the winners are now in contact with experts so the meeting was only the beginning of their cooperation.
The results of the first edition show that the Ngomap.eu project is a good example of using Web 2.0 tools to help grass-roots initiatives in the Eastern Partnership countries. The meeting was an extraordinary chance to build a platform for exchanging know-how between NGO activists from the European Union and neighbourhood countries. The next edition of the contest is planned for the period between May and June 2013.
Project “NGO map – linking the best local initiatives between Eastern and Western Europe” was implemented with the kind support of the Czech Ministry of the Foreign Affairs and Polish Ministry of the Foreign Affairs.