Today is International Human Rights Day! It is quite easy to use phrases repeated so many times and posted on this occasion in the media and social networks- such as: “Today is Human Rights Day. Respect for human rights and dignity is a fundamental value”!
Implementing words into practice is much more difficult and demanding. German organization Help – Hilfe zur Selbsthilfe has been doing this for 45 years, every day on the ground, from Europe to Africa and Asia. In Montenegro since 1999, when columns of refugees from Kosovo (about 120,000) arrived fleeing from the war, adding to a number of refugees who had previously fled the war in B&H.
A number of refugees and internally displaced persons never returned to their homes, rather decided to stay and began to build a new life in Montenegro. Help, with the huge financial help of donors, was among the first to lend a helping hand – and two decades later we continue to work every day, through numerous first aid programs, housing, to various employment and mediation projects.
During two decades we have expanded the circle of those to whom we have directly extended a hand- other vulnerable categories of the population in Montenegro, including the Roma-Egyptian (RE) community and other socially vulnerable groups, children, youth, women and the unemployed.
In all parts of Montenegro in that period we had built dozens of housing units for refugees, displaced persons and socially vulnerable people. We have organized and we are still organizing numerous training programs, acquiring knowledge, skills and qualifications for employment – aware that only long-term sustainable solutions can produce better life quality for these communities and groups.
For example, Help’s mediators, Denisona Beriša, Ibrahim Tatari and Dijamant Pajazitaj have been helping the RE population for already years to get health or social assistance more easily, apply to the employment bureau and look for work. Not exclusively for them – and not just for these areas, but also for education. We have managed to present the Institute of Mediators for Social Inclusion to the authorities as an instrument for easier access to basic social services and rights, as well as a sustainable model that we hope the state will adopt as a necessity.
Therefore, the project of the European Union and the Government of Montenegro “Social Inclusion of Roma Men and Women and Egyptians with the Mediation of Inclusion Associates” is being implementing, within the European Union and Montenegro Program for Employment, Education and Social Protection.
The project is implemented by “Help”, which is also the employer of mediators in the next year – in partnership with the municipalities of Podgorica, Ulcinj and Berane.
34 mediators, who received professional training and received certificates, were deployed in 11 municipalities in the next year, with the task of providing members of the RE community easier access to local institutions, i.e. easier exercise of basic rights, and thus better integration into society.
The second project we are currently implementing as a long-term solution as we hope, the program “Socio-economic empowerment of the Western Balkans to strengthen the stability of the region in 2021-2022” is worth 3.35 million euros.
Within, training for the unemployed with work is underway, where we mediate between employers who are looking for labor and the unemployed who will get the opportunity to be employed for one year, with the possibility of extension. This is also one of the models that Help has previously tested through various projects.
In addition to the on-the-job training program that stimulates employment among the unemployed, which will eventually be passed by about 40 candidates, in the project for Montenegro, we continued to support the Center for Execution of Criminal Sanctions in Spuž – UIKS: reconstruction and renovate the pig farm, as well as implementing programs for the recovery of prisoners, which also includes receiving professional and certified training that will facilitate their socialization after release from prison.
As we noted, one of the priority groups that Help wants to support are young people and women, their better education and faster integration into society. In accordance with that aim is the project RECONOMY regional inclusive and green economic development program of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), implemented by HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation in partnership with Help in Eastern Europe, the South Caucasus and the Western Balkans.
Within this project, Help is a partner in Montenegro with the ICT cluster Cortex, which brings together successful technology companies in the country, which for their own needs but also for the development and future of the overall economy, working on education and training for young future programmers and IT professionals, connecting the education sector and business.
One of the successful models is the cooperation with the High Vocational School “Vaso Aligrudić”, and the establishment of a technological academy is also planned.
A brilliant high school student Jovan Popović is the best example of how much it is worth investing in the education of young people.
Although in recent years we have focused on long-term solutions that would ensure a dignified life and security for the most vulnerable citizens, Help continues to strive to meet and provide first aid for medicines, baby food and similar necessities.
However, apart from slogans, we must fight for the equal rights of all – every day and concretely, helping those around us, who are in need the most. Help works on these calls every day.