The Support for Local Response to Refugee Crisis project is an 18-month activity implemented by the Ana and Vlade Divac Foundation. The project improves the capabilities of select local self-governments, volunteer organizations, and civil society organizations to respond to the current European migration crisis. By its design the project also helps municipalities to develop strategies and structures to aid them in the event of future manmade and natural crises.
The following municipalities were included in project activities: Lajkovac (Bogovadja), Tutin, Sjenica, Sid (3 locations: Adasevci, Principovac, Grey House) Subotica, Dimitrovgrad, Presevo along with Belgrade/Savski Venac refugee assistance points in Miksaliste, and Infopark providing assistance to refugees in Belgrade. In the reporting period, 7 Community Coordinators were engaged in all project participating municipalities, whose task was to liaise all stakeholders in local communities.
According to the new identified needs form the field, and request from the partnering municipalities, and Commissariat for Refugees and Migrations we have supported the following activities from contingency fund, and reserved fund for municipalities:
Equipment of children’s corner in Sjenca and Tutin, in amount of 4,000 USD for both center
Provision of industrial washing machine for center in Tutin, in amount of 5,000 USD
Provision and installation of 2 security doors in Miksaliste, in amount of 1,500 USD
Provision of TV for the purposes of workshops with refugees in Tutin and Sjenica, in amount of 1,000 USD
Lightning for transit center in Bujanovac, as urgently requested assistance form Ministry for Labor, in amount of 2,000 USD
Divac Foundation project team have supported transit centers in Sid (Adasevci and Principovac) by providing 5 sewing machines and 2 washing machines. The sewing equipment was used for organization of workshops with refugees accommodated in these two centers. The workshops in general, together with tailoring activities are helping to regain a sense of dignity and self-worth among refugees and are one of the basic tools for their integration in our society.
Divac Foundation have provided snow blowing/cleaning machines to asylum centers in Sid, Tutin, Subotica, Dimitrovgrad, and Lajkovac (Bogovadja).
Divac Foundation and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) donated 1 million dinars’ worth of kitchen equipment to the Subotica Red Cross Public Kitchen. The donation allows Vojvodina’s biggest public kitchen to prepare 400 additional meals per day. The Public Kitchen has prepared 1,100 meals per day for more than 20 years. Thanks to this donation the kitchen can now prepare 1,500 meals per day for community members and migrants as well. Enhancing the kitchen’s capacity to prepare and deliver more meals to families in Subotica, the City of Subotica that supports the everyday work of Red Cross Public Kitchen will improve the quality of community services in Subotica.
In Bogovadja (Municipality of Lajkovac), Presevo, Dimitrovgrad, and Sid, Divac Foundation and USAID provided new equipment (furniture, computers, office supplies) for the Office of Local Community in Bogovadja, Youth Offices in Sid and Presevo, and Sport and tourism center in Dimitrovgrad, that has enabled functioning of the offices and so functioning of the whole local community.
From December 18th to 21st, 2016, as a part of celebration of the World Migrant day, the Divac Foundation has distributed 1,600 Christmas gifts to children in 10 asylum/reception centers and organized joint Christmas theater plays for local children and migrants. This activity was amended with distribution of 500 school books to 10 elementary schools in 7 project participating municipalities, as an initiative to foster solidarity and tolerance among local population and refugees.
Foundation’s local coordinators and volunteers have visited reception centers and local primary schools to distribute gifts and books. In addition, social events/Christmas play for local children and migrants were organized promoting tolerance and solidarity among local population and refugees in local community, as a vital message from Support to local communities in response to refugee crises project.
Divac Foundation have organized workshops for children with special needs in Subotica, in coordination with Commissariat for refuges and migrations. The workshops were tailored for children with special needs, both from local community, and for children based in reception center. The workshops were delivered by professionals from association “Zajedno” in Subotica.
Divac Foundation have delivered electric stove, combined washing machine, to humanitarian organization “Gajret”, from Bajralki Mosque in Belgrade. Machine for food packaging will be delivered on 12th of June. Total value of listed equipment is 7 200 USD. This equipment strengthened capacities of Gajret team, in providing hot meals to migrants in need, that are looking for support in Bajrakli mosque, in Belgrade.
During June 2017, Divac Foundation have provided furniture, and computer equipment for 8 elementary schools that are planning to include children from transit centers for refugees in school program, and procurement of 6 EKG machines for Health centers in project participating municipalities. The equipment has increased capacities of mentioned institutions, and will serve both for local population, and migrants based in reception and asylum centers. Total value of listed equipment is 40 000 USD.
Divac Foundation project team has developed training modules, and materials for improvement of the emergency response capacities for local headquarters for emergency situations, representatives for civil protection, and council for migration in each project participating municipality. Trainings have started in September 2016, and were completed in April 2017. Grant funds in the amount of 70 000 USD for equipment for emergency situation were realized upon completion of training activities, 10 000 USD in equipment for emergency situations in each project participating municipality.
Divac Foundation communicated these activities in local and regional media mostly. Divac Foundation organized several volunteering actions in municipalities covered by the project where participated local population, volunteers and migrants as well. The activities included cleaning the river sides, parks, planting, painting fences that will improve the functioning of everyday life in these communities.
Three Public Opinion Survey on attitudes of Serbian citizens toward refugees and refugee crisis was conducted in the territory of the City of Belgrade and 7 other Municipalities in Serbia (Belgrade, Lajkovac, Tutin, Sjenica, Sid, Subotica, Dimitrovgrad, and Presevo). The Survey explored citizens’ perception of the refugees from Near East, attitudes about them and perception of their integration, and also the sources of information about refugees.
Divac Foundation has supported InfoPark in order to secure daily information, food, and nonfood items provision to refugees in Belgrade. More than 154,631 beneficiaries were provided with food, nonfood items, and legal advice.
Together with Refugee Aid Miksaliste - Belgrade center for donation and volunteer coordination, Divac Foundation has organized 164 workshops held / 1454 beneficiaries /228 volunteers. The workshops have ranged from language lessons and arts/crafts activities, to volunteer efforts and focus group sessions. Workshops were tailored to support refugee’s skill development and minimize isolation form host communities.
Divac Foundation project team identified 16 civil society organizations (CSOs) dealing with refugee crises across Serbia and encouraged them to take part on the call for proposal for capacity building grants, so they can more adequately and efficiently respond, monitor, coordinate and implement projects in accordance with the situation on the field. On November 16th 2016, on world day of tolerance, Divac Foundation have signed grant support contracts with 6 local civil society organizations in order to strengthen their organizational capacities, in total amount of 50.000 USD. As the result of this support, grantees:
1. Sigma plus, from Nis,
2. Impulse, from Tutin,
3. Humanitarian Center for the integration and tolerance (HCIT), from Novi sad,
4. Center for solidarity and progress, from Presevo,
5. Youth forum, from Presevo, and
6. Refugee aid Serbia (RAS), from Belgrade, are now more efficient in providing their services and will be able to further contribute to the development of local communities and quality life of citizens.
In order to build awareness and provide accurate and timely information to the General Public, based on public opinion survey on refugees, strong media campaign was developed with purpose to generate a greater level of empathy and understanding among Serbian citizens. So far, through number of media events, TV and radio appearances, round tables, go and see visits, billboard campaign - over 500.000 Serbian citizens reached so far through the public campaign.
During project implementation, Divac Foundation was producing 2 short videos aiming "Life doesn't choose its paths" and "What is your response?" at tackling empathy, prejudices and similarity among local population and refugees in Serbia, trough public awareness campaign “Life doesn’t choose its paths”, within Support to local communities in response to refugee crises project. The videos were presented to media representatives on December 16th, during media breakfast, and on August 17, 2017, during final conference in Belgrade.
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