CSOs, each in its own way, responded to the pandemic and its aftermath. They put their human and organisational capacities at disposal and made efforts to mitigate the economic, social and humanitarian effects of the state of emergency. The seven associations, grantees under the call for small action grants on advocacy within the Civil Society Resource Centre, also showed solidarity and directed some of their activities where they can contribute the most.
Among them are “Bright Future”, “Let’s go Macedonia”, the Civic Initiative of Women GIZ Sveti Nikole and the Roma-Turkish Association “Hayat NGO” Strumica. They participated in the procurement and distribution of humanitarian packages of food and hygiene products for the most vulnerable groups as well as providing information to the target groups.
For example, the association “Bright Future” reallocated some of the budget of their project awarded by the Civil Society Resource Centre and with the funds delivered 30 food packages in to 30 Roma families, i.e. 97 people. Manuela, project coordinator, stated that their activities were actually requested by the community since Roma are often part of the informal economy and currently have difficulty to earn for living.
Further on, Let’s Go Macedonia helped the marginalized groups of citizens by distributing the received donations with food products. They say that the requests for humanitarian aid usually come from people who have lost their jobs and are at great social risk.
In this way, families living on the margins of society, single parents and unemployed people from Kocani, Skopje, Strumica and the rural areas of Sveti Nikole were included. Besides donations, these individuals received health information about the impact of the coronavirus, its protection, as well as information on the economic, social and health measures taken by the state and local self-government.
In addition to working on the ground, some of the sub-grantees of the Civil Society Resource Center have used digital tools to contribute to their communities. Scouts from Veles, Innova Lab from Bitola and the Civic Integration Initiative IGI Gostivar worked to improve the opportunities for young people to join the community. In the past period, they were actively connected with young people, sharing webinars, videos and information based on their needs. Associations discussed with young people about the challenges during the crisis, education, constructive spending of their time and environment protection.
CSOs support their communities in times of crisis, and are likely to begin to address the social consequences from this crisis. The associations showed great flexibility and successfully adapted to the state of emergency by introducing new activities, innovations, and some of them went beyond their usual area of action. This is just another indication that civil society is a loyal ally of citizens and institutions, filling in the gaps in society.