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Rabute of Istria | Civic Europe
Community development, Social inclusion

Rabute of Istria

Reviving the centuries old tradition of communal voluntary work, called “rabute”, to promote civic cohesion in the villages of Slovenian Istria.


Who is behind this?

Petra Matos

Park Istra



Idea pitch

For centuries the villagers of Istria were helping each other in a tradition of voluntary charity actions called “rabute”. The tradition was lost due to modern individualism and conflicts in the villages. We want to revive rabute and upgrade them by inviting international volunteers to join the locals and create even bigger impact. Besides helping people and communities in need, rabute will promote communication and cooperation. Doing something good together connects people like nothing else.

Where will your project idea take place?

Countryside of Istria, Slovenia

What is the specific societal challenge faced by this region?

We aim to address the problem of division and resulting lack of cooperation amongst the villagers in Istrian settlements.
In the last decade, there is an influx of new residents that are moving into the emptied villages. They came to the countryside in search for more affordable accommodation. The older population and newcomers do not share the same values, traditions and visions. In many villages this created two separate groups that don't communicate or cooperate. This has a long term negative effect on their environment, as the villagers are unable to join their strength to improve their living conditions or influence the touristic and infrastructural development that is directed towards their region from the policymakers in the coastal centers.

Who are you doing it for?

In the countryside of Slovenian Istria there are more than 100 settlements with about 20.000 inhabitants. Part of these settlements experienced significant immigration in the last decade. These are the settlements that changed the most and where the differences between older and newer population are the most pronounced. Our main target group are the old and new inhabitants of these settlements, especially those that are not active in the village community. Our second target group are people in need that our rabute will be helping. These might be elderly people, often living alone in the old, half-ruined houses. Our third target group are the active people and communal leaders in the villages, whom we aim to educate and motivate to cooperate with all groups of villagers.

How do you plan to get there?

- Preparation phase
Through the discussion with various stakeholders (university, municipality, NGOs) we will define the village communities that could benefit the most from our project and invite them to participate. We will organize and moderate the discussion between the villagers about volunteering they want to do in their village. After they choose the appropriate voluntary action for them, we will plan the details together. We will use non-violent communication techniques to allow for a safe discussion and for every participating villager to be heard.
We will explain the project to international volunteers in Volunteer center and invite them to participate in the actions.

- Action phase
Together with the involved villagers we will promote rabuta in their village, so even the least active people in the village, will hear about it. We will organize tools, (construction) materials, safety gear, transport and a communal meal after the action. On the day of the action we will organize local coordinators that will direct volunteers and take care for the safety and quality of work.

- Follow-up
We will evaluate the results and repeat the process the next year. We will keep repeating the actions, to make rabute Istrian tradition again. Only this will ensure the sustainability of the project results and bring long-term improvements in the participating communities.

What are the expected results?

We will choose 8 villages, where we will organize 8 rabute this year and repeat them next year. The exact work that volunteers will do depends on the decision of the participating village communities (e.g. fix house of a poor villager, build playground for kids...).
More than 200 locals and 100 international volunteers will participate in these actions. Rabute will connect people that normally don’t cooperate, offer them a positive experience of active citizenship and motivate them to become more active in the development of their local environment.
Participating communities will be introduced to non-violent techniques of discussion.
The tradition of “rabute” will be revived in participating villages and continue to spread in other Istrian villages even after the end of this project.

How does your idea strengthen active citizenship at a local and community level?

The project will connect the villagers that normally don’t cooperate. Rabute that they will accomplish together will offer a positive community experience and will show the villagers what they are capable to achieve if they unite. They will experience first-hand, how being active citizen can be life changing, meaningful and fulfilling.
The non-violent methods of communication and decision making will show the participating communities how to communicate more efficiently to overcome the differences that hamper them.
More united villages will be more efficient in taking care of their in community and communicating their needs on municipal level.

Why is this idea important to you?

Petra Matos studied geography and family therapy. In 2012 she led the biggest volunteering project in the history of Slovenia. Later she established Park Istra, where she now works as a mentor for volunteers. In 2019 she received a national award for outstanding achievements in volunteering.
Janez Matos holds PhD in environmental protection. He works in Park Istra as a volunteer coordinator.
Helping locals every day we experience challenges that motivated us to propose this project:
- unaddressed conflicts in some villages;
- it is difficult to find out what the local communities really want;
- locals cannot gain communal support for their (sometimes brilliant) ideas;
- we wish for more dialogue and intercultural exchange between our young international volunteers and the locals.

€ 35000,-

Total budget

€ 35000,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

Major expenses

Personnel costs 12000 eur
Tools, materials and safety equipment: 19000 eur
Transport costs 1000 eur
Food for participants 2500 eur
Promotion of project 500 eur

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

We would like to make our project’s impact as big as possible. We will be grateful for any feedback that can help us with that.


Idea created on April 5, 2021
Last edit on April 9, 2021

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