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Study visit to Milan – Italy

In the framework of the project SOCIETIES a study visit to Milan – Italy has been organised from the 21st to the 25th of May. During the visit the participants had a chance to see the functioning of a system of social welfare, based on community services and social enterprises.

Other than the five national Caritas organizations involved in the project the participants of the study visit were also representatives of 15 association of persons with disabilities and with mental health problems from the countries of the region, whose associations received grants within this project.

Project SOCIETIES, financed by the EU, aims at helping the civil society organisations to strengthen their capacities and provide them with financial support for the implementation of local initiatives that would contribute to a better social inclusion of persons with disabilities and mental disorders in the South-Eastern Europe. Key element of the planned programme of capacity building are the study visits in the countries of the European Union. With this idea the study visit to Bulgaria has been organized last year, as the one in Italy this year

Association Psicologi per i Popoli nel mondo from Milan, who is a partner on the project, had the task to create a five day program. The program included visits to different cooperatives that provide services directed to persons with disabilities, mental or intellectual difficulties. Particulary interesting were the experiences of the cooperatives Lotta contro l’Emarginazione (Fight against Exclusion), Olinda and Arcipelago. All three cooperatives provide innovative social services to the nominated target group: from the services that aim to gaining autonomy, through residential services to services of work inclusion and different types of support to patients and families.

The participants also had a chance to visit the The Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research, the High Assistance Residential Center of the Hospital Niguarda (Residential center for users with psychosocial disability), as well as Caritas Ambrosiana (Caritas Milan).

Anica Spasov – Nasa kuca (Serbia): It was a pleasure for me being part of this team. My impressions are very intense and they are related to different aspects of the visit. We saw different organizations, with numerous programs. The interesting thing is the way that the money follows the users and the way that services are being financed. We saw a very complex and functional state system, that is connected vertically and horizontally and a holistic approach to problem solving of individuals from vulnerable groups. We had enough time to get to the representatives of other CSOs, to learn more about the programs of Caritas organizations from all these countries. I think that as organizations we should focus more on our values and a holistic approach, so we could influence legal and system changes in the society more efficiently.

In Italy, we have seen many examples of good practices, community services, residential accommodation services, day care centres and countless examples of various forms of occupational therapy and social entrepreneurship for people with disabilities.

Helena Mikulić – In Spe Mostar (Bosnia and Herzegovina): During the visit I learned that local, regional or national government in Italy funds all these services in one way or another, which is completely different from the way in which organizations operate in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Still the conclusion is that organization from Bosnia and Herzegovina and other countries, are managing to carry out projects and activities with far less funds and this experience was conveyed to the Italian colleagues.

Perhaps the most valuable part of the study visit was meeting with wonderful colleagues from other South East European countries, sharing a similar environment and context, fighting for a better society for people with disability. The partnerships and friendships that we have been created will certainly produce concrete cooperation in the coming period.

Planting action with the first graders in Valjevo

On Friday May 4th 2018 – International firefighter’s day, in cooperation with the First elementary school from Valjevo and Caritas Valjevo, Caritas Serbia organized a workshop about disaster risk reduction in the park Pećina in Valjevo for 30 first graders. The park is located on a small landslide, which was created during the floods in 2014, while the elementary schools next to it still use this park as a playground for children under the age of 10 years. City institution fixed the landslide, but it was necessary to plant special trees that will bind the soil. After the educational part of the workshop children and Caritas staff members planted 47 trees in the park, as well as 8 in the schoolyards of two elementary schools nearby and gave a name to each one of the trees.

It was a perfect day, the children were very excited and satisfied, they learned how to protect the environment, as well as how to protect themselves.

Educational activities for children and planting trees are part of the common efforts of Caritas in Serbia to make the local communities more resistant to natural disasters. These activities are organized with the support of the international Caritas network. Through the action organized in the park in Valjevo the children showed a common conscience about the importance of the environmental protection and the fact that the greatest and most creative things are done through teamwork.

How to fight against stress? A training for operators in the refugee centers in Serbia

On Friday 4th of May 2018, in the premises of the Regional Centre for Professional Development in Nis – Serbia, the training named “Prevention against burn-out syndrome of professionals in social protection“ was held. The training gathered staff members of Caritas Belgrade Archbishopric and Caritas Srem, involved in direct assistance of refugees and migrants, while the accredited program training was guided by Marina Vukotic and Ivana Koprivica from the Provincial Institute for Social Protection. The goal of this one day training was to strengthen the capacities of people who are active on the field of assistance to the refugee and migrant population. The training was equally useful for psychologists and social workers, as well as animators and translators, with the goal to respond professionally to the refugees requests and, at the same tame, safeguard personal mental health.

Taking into consideration the current migratory movements and the fact that a great percentage of migrants and refugees staying in Serbia are women and children, the accent of Caritas aid in psycho-social work is more directed to parents with children.

By strengthening capacities for stress management on individual and organizational level, the quality of services provided to beneficiaries is being increased and conditions are being made for the respect of rights of users, based on basic principles of social protection. The participants gained basic knowledge about stress and burn out syndrome, their sources and symptoms, recognizing risk factors, strategies for facing stress and burn out syndrome. All the participants successfully completed the training and they will receive certificates from the Republic Institute for Social Protection. The training was organized within the project financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Germany and Caritas Germany.

Study visit to Serbia within the project Societies

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Within the project SOCIETIES a study visit was organized from 11 to 13 March, aiming to exchange experiences and examples of good practice in the field of social inclusion between civil society organizations (CSOs)participating in the project. Representatives of 15 CSOs from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Kosovo, together…

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Recognition of Caritas Serbia work on disaster risk reduction

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Caritas Bosnia and Herzegovina and Caritas Serbia recently received recognition for their exceptional work in disaster risk reduction. On March 1stthey were awarded by the Ministry of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina for supporting disaster risk reduction in their respective countries and co-operating across borders. Caritas Bosnia and Herzegovina’s main contribution was…

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English language classes for refugees in Bujanovac

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Caritas psycho-social support team from Bujanovac Reception Center organises lessons of English language for refugees and migrants, every day, from Monday to Friday. The participants are divided into three groups, in relation to their previous knowledge. They attend classes regularly, with the goal to master the language better. The members…

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