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Archive file

Interim report: Jan '96 - June '96

"We must learn that not always is it important to do only the work which is visible. Sometimes it is more helpful if you only show that you are there."
- Eike Mangold, Former Volunteer

Work Camps

Short Term Volunteer work camps have formed the base of the Project since its initiation. Over the past three years 500 volunteers have participated (with a few breaks) in a total of 43 camps. Because all Long Term Volunteers were required to work as STV's for at least one work camp, many of those who planned to stay for a short period of three to six weeks, ended up remaining and holding a major impact on the accomplishments and direction of the Project.

During the early period of the Project, there was a strong emphasis on physical reconstruction. The STV's worked with the local "working Brigades" to repair roofs, clean bricks, tear down some half destroyed houses and repair others. The time devoted to this endeavor served two purposes. The first was to lend credibility to the Project by illustrating that volunteers were willing to work and work hard alongside the locals to rebuild their town. The second purpose was to create contacts with the community through working (and taking coffee breaks) together. It is through these contacts that the Project was later able to expand via the Women's Group, etc.

The goals of the Project in the beginning were not only to assist in the physical reconstruction of both sides of the town but to reach out to large numbers in the community. And so, in addition to physical work, STV's went on numerous community visits to older individuals as well as families with children. It was hoped that by introducing internationals from different countries with different experiences to the community, it might provide a visible symbol of tolerance and international solidarity.

In the past six months, Volunteer Project Pakrac and four different co-leaders hosted 6 workcamps (#37-42) with a total of 41 volunteers. These workcamps focused on the renovation of a community center in a nearby Serbian village, installing glass and numerous small repairs activities. However, despite the continuing enthusiasm of the STV's, the Project has decided to discontinue the STV camps for several reasons. As a result of the successes of our various Sub-projects as well as the transitions of the town towards normalization, there is no longer such a need for the STV's as an international symbol. Private firms are now angaged in the reconstruction process, thus lessening the need for international volunteers providing this service. So the Project is now concentrating on the development of its other Sub-projects, though continuing its attention to small repairs and community visits.

Small Repairs

The Small Repairs Program was adapted from the physical work of the STV camps as a way to help those in the community who had the need for minor reconstruction work. During the Project's evolution, a relationship developed with the United Nations Office of Vienna. They provided us with funding for this activity while the Volunteer Project Pakrac organized and implemented the tasks. This Sub-project was important for the community as it filled a void which was left by other large reconstruction companies. Many individuals were desperately in need of our help as they were unable to afford or secure the services of private repair shops. In many cases, the major service that was needed was the installation of glass. This evolved earlier this year into an established glass program initiated by an influential Long Term Volunteer, Peter Scholl.

Over the past six months many changes have taken place in the Small Repairs Sub-project. Unfortunately, our long cooperation with the UNOV ended during the past month, as the main office in Vienna abruptly ended its funding of our glass and small repairs program. We remain optimistic about this Sub-project though because at the same time that we received this discouraging news, we also had the good fortune to hire a new qualified Croatian Small Repairs Volunteer. And in spite of the difficulties, he is in the process of locating new funders and devising a new system of cooperation with UNHCR.

We continue to plan the Tools Library, an offshoot of the Small Repairs Sub-project. This will serve as a system of borrowing and lending of tools as well as the setting for instructive workshops for youth in repairs, woodworking, etc run by and for the community. It will hopefully be organized and implemented fully by local individuals almost immediately after its initial set-up. This will hopefully establish a form of cooperation and communication within the two communities as well as a sense of control and internal interest in rebuilding the community.

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