Interview | Giving Balkans

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The coronavirus has had (and still holds) a massive impact on each of us, and every living being has different mechanisms of dealing with it. The same is the case with nonprofit organizations – each with unique experiences overcoming obstacles and adapting to new pandemic circumstances.

That is why we singled out additional four examples of nonprofit organizations and associations from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Serbia. Our recent interviews revealed how the pandemic crisis has affected their work over the past two years and how their collective has changed.

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Interviews with many nonprofit organizations across the Western Balkans during the current and the previous year provided us with a slightly clearer insight into how they are coping with the aftermath of the pandemic. What do their regular activities look like? How did they proceed with the implementation of their programs? How demanding was it to move from the physical to the online world without denying the many forms of support they provide to their users?

You will find some of the answers in this text, where the Association MoSt from Croatia, Žene Bara from Montenegro, KRIK from Northern Macedonia, and Kosovo Women's Network enabled us to learn some of the examples of practices used in the region, as well as ways to adapt to new rules of the COVID-19 virus pandemic.

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Coronavirus significantly affects human lives and poses a threat to our health and society as a whole. The global threat of the Covid-19 virus motivated and inspired the company Nextsense from Skopje to contribute to joint efforts in the fight against the global pandemic. To support global efforts to stop coronavirus spread, Nextsense has developed contact tracking technology and provides it free of charge to other countries.

Nextsense donated its technology to Northern Macedonia and Hungary, which was implemented in mobile applications for tracking contacts, in addition to the government's measures in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Northern Macedonia has implemented the StopKorona! app to track contacts. Additionally, Hungary has launched the VirusRadar mobile app to allow health authorities to identify potentially exposed people more quickly and break the coronavirus transmission chain, preventing a potential new epidemic.

Let's find out more about their contribution from the app's creators.

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As the Covid-19 virus is still present in our lives, we reviewed nonprofit organizations from the region, which explained to us in 2020 and 2021 how the pandemic affected their work, daily activities, and lives in general.

It is possible that some of their systemic adaptations to new circumstances inspire other organizations that encounter this text to devise new ways or apply some of the existing examples in their program activities.

In today's text, you will be able to get to know some of the prominent organizations from the Western Balkans and their methods of adapting to the new normality.

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Informal group Ženski solidarni front formed spontaneously when a group of motivated women felt the need and obligation to respond to the effects of the pandemic their local community in Vranje suffered. They gathered around the idea to organize a grand charity ball and bazaar in order to raise money for children whose parents had died of COVID-19.

The initiative gathered a number of successful women from Vranje and was supported by the Center for Media Transparency and Social Responsibility (CMTDO). As a result, in just two weeks and with the support of the community, by 20 August, a total of RSD 600,000 was raised  (5.000 EUR)  and 26 direct donations were provided to help the children who had lost one or both parents since the beginning of the pandemic.

In addition to this large initiative in August, the charitable women of Vranje helped their community throughout the pandemic year of 2020 by raising around RSD 3 million (25.500 EUR) for the support to the healthcare system, with the assistance of good and responsible fellow citizens.

Milica Anđelković Jovanović, who wanted to help the children of Vranje and activate her community, made only one Facebook status and launched a chain of support engaging hundreds of women who wanted to contribute to the humanitarian initiative. Today, this informal group has more than 700 members, including several men who have joined recently, since the fact that membership was exclusive to women was criticized by men in the beginning, as Milica points out.

In the interview, Milica talks about the power of community in the circumstances which caught us all completely unprepared. She told us about their motives to get together and help children and families, about obstacles they had to face, and about how one Charity Ball in August 2021 united the citizens of Vranje in common cause.

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Founded in 1996, Kosovo Women’s Network was originally an informal network of women's groups and organizations from different regions of Kosovo. Since its inception, KWN has developed into a network advocating for Kosovo women, locally, regionally, and internationally. Representing the interests of its 168 members, including women's organizations of all ethnic groups from across Kosovo, KWN is a leader among civil society organizations in Kosovo and the region.

In an interview with Etleva Malushaj, Coordinator of the Kosovo Women's Network project "Strengthening women's participation in politics" supported by the EU, we discussed her personal motivation to join the nonprofit sector, what are their current activities and she also explained why it is important for their network to strengthen the feminist movement in Kosovo.

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Knowing well the challenges that women face within their community, NPO Gruaja Hyjnore (Divine Women) set out to educate women about their rights, empowering them economically by helping them gain their own sources of income.

Besides this, the mission of Divine Woman is to support and empower young people and advance the position of women in Kosovo society by raising awareness of their rights, gender equality, improving education and organizing social activities.

In an interview with Qëndresa Hajdari, project manager of this nonprofit organization, we discovered the most significant challenges they face, how they contribute to the development of philanthropy in Kosovo, and which activities they are the most focused on at the moment.  Qëndresa also provided us with an example of their fundraising activities, that reflects their creative ways of activating their community.

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