Community development

Solidarity and active citizenship on the move

Learning by doing – young people organizing and providing help and company to elderly people who live in isolated and sparsely populated rural settlements of Lika-Senj county, Croatia


Who is behind this?

Vedrana Topic


Who is joining forces?

Municipality Plitvice Lakes (općina Plitvička Jezera)



Idea pitch

In the largest Croatian county, the least populated and among the least prosperous ones. damaged by two wars and with its population displaced, senior people often live alone and isolated within a few miles. In bigger settlements of that beautiful mountain area children and youth are lacking of opportunities to learn and live active citizenship and solidarity. Why don't we change all of it and help the community to become a better place? We know how :)

Where will your project idea take place?

Lika-Senj county in central Croatia, Municipality Plitvice Lakes, 200 km from Croatian capital city

What is the specific societal challenge faced by this region?

In the least populated Croatian county which is also among the least prosperous ones, although the largest by area and including some of Croatia's major tourist attractions, depopulation, uneven population and population ageing are emphasized even more then in other parts. Sparsely populated, small and distant villages, badly connected, with people over 80 often living by themselves, isolated. Population and economy still suffering consequences of two wars in last 80 years. Migrants crossing the border near by and police patrols present everywhere creating a siege atmosphere. People immersed in everyday worries and existence. Social exclusion. Lack of solidarity, democracy, active citizenship, opportunities to learn about them and live them do not leave the impression of a brighter future.

Who are you doing it for?

We are doing it for the oldest residents who are living isolated in this mountainous area, often alone within a few miles. We are doing it for children and youth who we will teach the beauty and importance of democracy, active citizenship, solidarity – it is the only way to make a long-term improvement, to raise people who will not leave at the first opportunity but will stay and help create a better community for everybody. We are doing it for local decision makers, to push them toward people, show them how small steps can make a big change, encourage them to make bigger steps. We are doing it for ourselves because we have to make life of people in need better.

How do you plan to get there?

In autumn 2020 our organisation will implement workshops in local elementary and high school about active citizenship. In collaboration with the Municipality at the same time we will start activities for quality leisure time in the community. Finished those preparational activities, with already a stronger network in the community, the beginning of 2021 will be a perfect moment to switch to learning by doing. We will buy a used van, make it attractive and recognizable, collect data from the Municipality about elderly people who are in need and motivate young people to take part in organizing and implementing activities for elderly people. In first few months we will detect the right person from the community to make her a first local member of our team and turn the story into a local one…

What are the expected results?

A year from now we will do activities in a community where a group of youngsters is active and using own capacities to build a better community, to create chances to stay and build their lives there instead of going away, to take care of those who can't do it by themselves. We will have a community where other people are sensitized for what we do and although they have other worries, they support our work. Also, we will have partners convinced that small steps lead to big changes and willing to do them. As far as our organisation is concerned, we will have a new member of the staff who is continuing the work we started, listening to needs of local people and community, and planning with us new activities that will encourage active citizenship.

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

In autumn 2020 our organisation will implement workshops about acceptance of diversity, solidarity, human rights and volunteering with children and youth from local elementary and high school. In collaboration with the Municipality we will also start activities in the community for quality leisure time. What is missing is the opportunity to upgrade the theoretical part and practice active citizenship. That is why we designed a learning by doing method. Only by seeing and recognising results of own acting, one will become motivated to continue. Having in mind the geographical specificity of the area, our project will make it possible: we are going to purchase a van and include children and their families in visiting and volunteering for old people who are isolated and in need.

Why is this idea important to you?

Assosiation Mastara is founded with the idea of improving quality of life in local community. In that moment under local community we thought about Zagreb and its citizens, needs of children and elderly people who live here. Our ideas were based in real needs of different groups of people and individuals. Volunterism, solidarity and active citizenship are something we promote with every action we make and therefore it didn’t take much persuasion to transfer our focus to another community with even bigger needs, after the president of the Association was talking for years about the Municipality Plitvice Lakes and its people. We are sensitized for all people in need, we are following the principles of sustainable development, we are trying to react on flaws in the society we live in.

€ 49124,-

Total budget

€ 49124,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

Major expenses

Personnel costs - 21.704 EUR
Van - 15.000 EUR
Travel costs - 3.170 EUR
Supllies for elderly people - 7.500,00 EUR
Equipment for volontery and intergenerational activities - 1.750,00 EUR

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

We would like to hear if members of Civic Europe online community know for some similar project, can they give us contact if they have some good example we could learn from, if they have some suggestions for improvement of our idea, some experience of their own they would like to share… <3


Udruga Mastara_Association Imaginarium

Idea created on May 27, 2020
Last edit on May 27, 2020

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