Macedonia - Giving something back


Giving something back

The interaction of the outside world with Macedonia can have a variety of effects. Hopefully, your visit to Macedonia will have a positive impact on the tourist industry and, indirectly, on the economy and the people. If you have room in your rucksack or suitcase on your way out or have a load of stuff to get rid of when you leave Macedonia, then try bringing some things to the organisations listed on the Macedonian page of www.stuffyourrucksack.com. These organisations are in dire need of some basics, like books, shoes, pens and other small items you might have lying around your house. If you would like to get more personally involved with charities and institutions in the country then here are a few to start you off.

Anti-trafficking

The trafficking of women through and into Macedonia is a particularly entrenched problem, not helped on the Macedonian side by a weak policing and judicial system, and on the international side by the difficulty that the international community has in classing it as a crime separate from slavery, abduction, rape, torture, theft and prostitution. The whole issue is driven by huge financial profits and made easy for traffickers by the lack of public awareness.

Open Gate (Otvorena Porta-La Strada Macedonia, PO Box 110, 1000 Skopje; tel: 02 2700 107/367; email: lastrada@lastrada.org.mk; www.lastrada.org.mk) campaigns on anti-trafficking. Their work has helped to set up a safe house and helpline for trafficked women in Macedonia.

Civil society

The role that civil society plays in any country is an important contribution to self-governance and to providing checks and balances on government and people’s hard-earned taxes. In Macedonia civil society is weak by European and American standards. International funding is trying to develop the role that parliamentarians should play as the elected representatives of the people, as well as the role that non-governmental organisations can play. Sadly, the NGO scene is still largely supply driven by the amount of donor funding available rather than demand driven by the confidence that citizens can make a difference. What are sorely missing are skills and competent local stakeholders (and a responsive government). If you have the skills, the funding or the time to help with civil society development in Macedonia it will make a difference. Volunteer Centre Skopje

(Emil Zola 3-2/3, Skopje; tel: 02 2772 095; email: vcs_contact@yahoo.com; www.vcs.org.mk) places volunteers in a variety of projects across the country depending on their skills. US citizens might also want to look into two-year placements with the Peace Corps (www.peacecorps.gov).

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