Learning the dry-stone walling skill through public workshops offers recovering addicts an opportunity to regain physical and mental abilities, respect from the community and a valuable skill. Tutoring them offers older craftsmen a chance to share knowledge and regain attention and respect. In karst areas where the need for stone craftsmen is emerging and the rate of addiction is highest in Croatia, this initiative brings together vulnerable citizens to work together as an engaged community.
Zadar and Šibenik County, Croatia
'Once an addict, always an addict' - the polarizing viewpoint is widespread in Croatia, especially in rural areas of coastal Counties, such as Zadar and Šibenik.
After attending Recovery community programs or after exiting prison, recovering addicts face serious difficulties in resocializing and lose their civic voice. Out of fear of confrontation with the condemning public, a vast majority do not have the skills or motivation to engage in communal projects. The pandemic isolation and lack of outdoor face-to-face activities add to the problem even more. As a result, the region is becoming more segregated, it lacks inclusion and civic cohesion.
Recovering addicts are vulnerable citizens exposed to prejudice and exclusion. They are usually not connected with the rest of the community because of lack of trust and acceptance.
In Europe, latest research shows an increase of regular non-medical consumption of legal medicinal drugs with teenagers. More than 55% of the Croatian population enjoy legal drugs, more than 20% illegal ones. Zadar County has around 500 recovering addicts on 100.000 inhabitants, which is more than double the amount on a national scale. Zadar association Porat offers help to addicts; in their 18 working years, thousands of persons attended their counseling, re-socialization and preparation programs. Because of difficulties in reintegration due to societal polarization, a lot of them fail to maintain abstinence.
The most important step is the first one - getting our target group excited about the project as much we are. Dry stone restoration activities have been a hit for the last 15 years because they offer a variety of skills and contacts. Also, they act as a social glue - they gather people who are usually not in contact with a goal to solve a very hands-on concrete local problem.
We will transfer our enthusiasm by presenting the activities of dry stone heritage valorisation as they are: fun, easy, valuable, inclusive and useful. All can participate, and the ones that show much interest and the will to continue with the learning process in more detail can apply to participate in smaller scale tailor-made activities.
We will implement big heritage volunteering actions that engage a wider public, smaller scale mentoring programs with local stone craftsmen, offer good practice examples of finding employment in the traditional craft sector, and start an awareness raising online campaign about the new community 'rock stars'.
Project activities will be facilitated by project partners and social work students engaged in a volunteering program of managing socially inclusive projects in civil society organisations. Facilitators will go through an expert education on how to work with our main target group - recovering addicts.
Once the project reaches its end, we will have created a strong impact on the community development for the long-term. By working towards the same goal, once conflicted citizens will learn from each other about different realities and with engaging in quality outdoor hands-on activities, they will discover new perspectives on old debates.
In the areas where dry-stone is omnipresent in the landscape, the need for dry-stone craftsmen is (re)emerging because of agri-environmental EU subsidies. Thus, the project will offer our target group a potential new professional qualification and contribute to the resocialization process.
The idea aims to create a basis for sustainable change in this small community by motivating a vulnerable and passive group of citizens to engage and participate. They will learn about the benefits of social engagement from enthusiastic volunteers and will feel connected among groups and individuals in the community.
Also, it chooses to tackle prejudice and exclusion by creating a positive place and time for conflicting groups of citizens to work towards a common goal.
In the long-term, this will contribute to switching from a closed to an inclusive and empowered community.
The team behind the idea brought their diverse skills and experience to the common table in order to strengthen active citizenship in counties they are active in.
Leaders and members of NGO Porat are drug-free abstinents who have helped drug addicts in the last 18 years. They have been there, so they are motivating and convincing while helping people in processes of resocialization, recovery treatment, detecting addiction in children and being exemplary in preventing addictions.
Leaders and members of NGO DRAGODID are heritage enthusiasts who create and implement education, training and awareness raising programs in the field of dry stone for the last 15 years. They organise and lead numerous workshops, researches, cooperations, studies with a goal of connecting people through dry stone.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
Project management and facilitation 14.000 EUR
Educators and trainers 9.000 EUR
Material costs for activities 5.000 EUR
Travel, accommodation and per diems 4.000 EUR
Design and communication 2.000 EUR
Office hardware and software 1.000 EUR
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