Chair of the Board of the Bilozerka Center for Regional Development Ella Petrenko.
Representatives of Legal Development Network offices that work with civil society organizations travel to other countries in order to take advantage of the positive experience of work of foreign NGOs and implement it on the territory of our state. Activists are getting acquainted with the results of reforms that are being implemented in other countries. Thus, guests from Ukraine have already had time to visit Denmark, Poland, Sweden. And recently they returned from Georgia, where they studied at the International School of Municipal Policy in Tbilisi, organized by the International Center for Municipal Democracy in partnership with the Legal Development Network with the support of International Renaissance Foundation.
A member of the School was a representative of Bilozeka Office of the Legal Development Network, Chair of the Board of the Bilozerka Center for Regional Development Ella Petrenko.
NGO "Bilozerka Center for Regional Development" has been actively working for more than 10 years in the Kherson region. The activists of the organization help build rural communities through introducing cultural, environmental and community initiatives on the ground, protecting human rights, increasing the competence of village councils. Therefore, they have to attend a lot from various trainings both in Ukraine and abroad, according to Bilozerka info.
Ella Petrenko shares her impressions of traveling to Georgia:
I have long dreamed of a trip to Georgia, because this country is close to us in spirit. It is experiencing the same problems that Ukraine has faced not so long ago. I was fortunate enough to become a member of the School. Our delegation included not only public figures but also heads of the united territorial communities. During the week we studied Georgian experience in community development through the prism of preventing conflicts in multicultural communities, protecting the rights of victims of war and conflicts, and strengthening the peacekeeping process.
Tbilisi is among the five most safe cities in the world. The government actively restores the facades of old buildings, builds infrastructure, and runs the country in a very good condition all over the country. For reform, Georgia has received several billion aid from the United States and the EU, and much of that money has really been used in the right direction. Yes, corruption has disappeared at the lowest level, but remained at the highest level.
About Georgian centers for providing administrative services and bribes
Georgians have actively implemented the idea of providing all services to citizens in one place (like our centers for providing administrative services). Any certificates, documents can be obtained quickly, in a convenient way, without bribes. Due to the medical reform Georgians also go to doctors without "gifts". However, the admission to the civil service or to local self-government is carried out according to the classical scheme – through personal acquaintance.
Refugees are provided with housing
Military conflicts in Georgia began much earlier than in Ukraine - since the collapse of the Soviet Union and remained unresolved until now. For them it is an open wound that is constantly bleeding. Almost a third of Georgia's territory is occupied. As a result, there are thousands of refugees, missing, died here. Therefore, the work with these categories of the population has attracted our attention. After all, these problems became relevant for Ukraine as well.
All refugees are fully provided with housing - there are compact cottage settlements in the suburbs, and they build social apartments in cities. We visited a compact Tserovani settlement for internally displaced persons, built in a few months at the expense of the EU. There live about 8 thousand people from the occupied Akhalgori. On the territory of the settlement there is a NGO that is active in the field of education of children and youth, the promotion of employment, and the development of social entrepreneurship.
About "municipalities in exile"
There is such a concept in Georgia as the "municipality in exile" - a local self-government body, a composition of which was elected before occupation, and after the occupation was moved. Such a municipality does not have its own income, but receives transfers from the state budget for the maintenance of educational and cultural institutions in the territory of a compact settlement. By keeping their municipalities in exile, the Georgians believe that the time will come when they return to their homes, and the question will be raised about restoring legitimate power.
Read more here.
Photos from the tour to Georgia in the photo gallery. Photo by Ella Petrenko.