|Promoting Citizen Participation in eastern Ukraine:|
East-Ukraine Center for Civil Initiatives (EUCCI)
"EUCCI sincerely hopes that local officials will be brought to their administrative responsibility to promote compliance with the principles of transparency and openness in the education departments of Poltava." East-Ukraine Center for Civil Initiatives (EUCCI)
Step by step. City by city. Town by town. Day by day. The East-Ukraine Center for Civil Initatives (EUCCI), an NGO dedicated to promoting transparency and citizen participation in govenment at the local level, valiently pursues its mission. It is still going strong inspite of the Russian proxie war in eastern Ukraine that has decimated parts of Donetsk and Lugansk oblasts (counties). Vovo, a EUCCI founder and its director, was forced to flee Lugansk for his life. But he has never given up.
|St. Volodymyr Cathedral|
|Lugansk Train Station|
The city now lays in ruins. The University doesn't function, having moved its faculty to its branch in Starobelsk. The Biblioteca is quiet. The NGOs scattered. The bustling cafes and bookstores, the shops and street life silenced. The train station, where I came and went just about everywhere in Ukraine, is a war zone. So I worried about Vovo, about his co-workers, about the large network of NGOs of which he was an integral part. But then he surfaced, with his humor intact.
|Lermontova st at night.|
We messaged. Vovo, are you okay, are you safe? "Yes, I'm okay. I was put on a list by the rebels." I received similar messages from one after another NGO leader, messages from Kiev, Khargiv, Lviv, and other cities. The war has killed the Lugansk reform movement. It has sent thousands upon thousands of people, including young community activists, intellectuals and scholars, librarians and teachers, women leaders and civic reformers, to other parts of their country. Many of those who didn't make it out of Lugansk were jailed, tortured or "disappeared." Friends of friends have still not been heard from in months.
|My counterpart Vera, of NGO Victoria |
in Starobelsk, attends one of Vovo's
workshops, and luckily took me
along. We visited women's NGOs
in Lugansk on that visit, as well.
|In front of the Lugansk Public Library,|
the Lugansk Biblioteca,on one of many visits.
Its "Windows on America" program was wonderful,
an English-language library
of American classic literature for the public.