Giving something back
After travelling in Croatia (and possibly even before you go) you may want to do something for the country – the two obvious ways you can help are through voluntary work or through supporting a Croatian charity.
The single most important thing you can do to improve life in Croatia is to support any of the many organisations involved in mine clearance. In the UK, Heather Mills has done a lot in getting prosthetic limbs and financial aid to mine victims in Croatia, and has also been instrumental in setting up the Adopt-A-Minefield programme. Visit the website, which co-ordinates anti-landmine activity and fundraising, and is directly involved in Croatia, raising money for mine clearance and for the survivors of landmine accidents. The Croatian Mine Action Centre or ‘CROMAC’ for short (Hrvatski Centar za Razminiranje, HCR) does a huge amount of work on the ground and keeps up-to-date statistics and maps on mine clearance at its website.
Another active organisation is the American Chamber of Commerce in Croatia (AmCham Croatia). Founded in 1998, and based in Zagreb, AmCham Croatia stresses its independence from the US government, and has various fundraising programmes for Croatian charities, in addition to its main mandate of promoting mutual co-operation and friendship between Croatia and the USA.
There are a number of well-established voluntary programmes operating in Croatia, though happily they’re all popular and you need to book well ahead if you want to participate. Below are a few, but you can find many more if you do your own research.
A well-established organisation is Volunteers Centre Zagreb, which was started in 1996, and has been working to promote peace and human rights since the war ended. VCZ organises working camps in Croatia. It’s also worth getting in touch with the Croatian Red Cross, which is not just active in its own right but also works with many other partners. The Croatian Heritage Foundation, for its part, caters mainly for the Croatian diaspora of 3.5 million people around the world. The foundation organises a summer ‘Task Force’, which focuses on a different project each year, such as restoring medieval town walls, replanting damaged botanical gardens, or rebuilding paths in the national parks.