Outcomes of the Workshop on Issues of Project Activities and Development of Rural Territories


The beginning of spring was the time of knowledge and new ideas for Bragin residents. On March 1-5, 2017, 26 members of family clubs from Bragin and Loev districts participated in the work of the 4th workshop “Family Clubs and Social-Economic Development of the Region”.

The aim of the workshop was to familiarize representatives of family clubs with best experiences in the field of development of rural territories, development and strengthening teamwork skills and formulation project applications aimed at addressing local issues. The workshop was conducted within the framework of the international assistance project “Development of the Network Capacity of Family Clubs in Chernobyl Area in order to Improve Social and Economic Situation” funded by the EU and implemented by the Green Cross Belarus Non-governmental organization.

The programme of the workshop could be divided into several parts: psychological, project and rural business.

A psychological part was dedicated to teamwork, increasing self-esteem, understanding the process of generating ideas. Under the competent guidance of Dina Ponyatovskaya, a psychologist, a lecturer at the Institute of Integrative Psychodrama, the workshop’s participants were engaged in self-knowledge and self-presentation, recognized their uniqueness, learnt to offer their skills and formulate their needs. During the first training on mutual presentation, it became clear that many participants understood needs of their region and were ready to address them, however, they often did not have enough self-confidence and determination to begin the process of transformation. According to many Bragin residents, the proposed psychological training helped them to release what they had inside, to see like-minded people in surrounding ones, to believe in the possibility of realizing their ideas. The psychologist Dina Ponyatovskaya, when commenting on the training, noted that those classes might become the starting point for many participants in order to achieve deeper self-knowledge and active self-realization, which, in turn, would help to change the life of the local community for the better.

The rural business part was carried out in Smorgon district where the National Rural Business Forum was held. Representatives of Bragin, Loev and Korma districts were interested in learning about experience on the organization of business in villages in western regions of Belarus. In addition to a comprehensive information programme, the forum included a number of excursions and visits to various business objects. In particular, the participants visited several farmsteads, learnt about a school business initiative, follwed the paths of the World War I, learnt about a bureau of virtual excursions, visited the Krevo’s block of the cluster and a Museum-estate of M.K. Oginskiy in Zalesye. While sharing impressions about the forum, Zhanna Chubsa, a manager of the family club “Sad Mechty” (“Dream Garden”) and the owner of the farmstead «Vishenka» (“A small cherry”), noted that, on attending the forum, she reinforced in the need of making a cultural programme for tourists: "Even if the district does not have architectural monuments and there are not special tourist facilities, you can still mastermind something, so that a tourist does not just have rest, but could have cultural rest: an excursion or a performance. It is clear that I cannot do everything by myself, so we need to unite, seek support in other clubs, cultural institutions and schools. Together we can do a lot.”

According to Kseniya Semashko, a representative of Loev region, a member of the Museum of the Battle for the Dnieper and a member of the family club “Nasledniki Loya” (“Loy’s Successors”), it was “useful to look at the practice of how small initiatives, for example, schools, centers of creativity, contribute to the work of the whole union by doing relatively little work". Unfortunately, as Kseniya noted, according to the heard and told information, the internal arrangement of the cluster was not quite clear, but she hoped that the proposed methodological recommendations would help to understand everything. The most important result for Kseniya was that “a general idea was generated regarding that all small parts can be combined, as they say, “under one roof” to address a common goal: attraction of tourists, additional earnings and employment of locals".

Many participants of this forum acquired useful contacts, which would produce good partnership in future.

The third block, conducted by Yuliya Stankevich, a consultant of the initiative “House of Mutual Understanding”, was devoted to writing project proposals. A two-day training included a theoretical and a practice-discussion sections. The first section included an analysis of such concepts as “a donor”, “a grant”, “a project”, “an initiative”, familiarizing with the main structure of an application, its mandatory items, existing criteria for selecting projects. The practice-discussion section covered formulating own applications. The participants of the workshop could use that example to understand more clearly a problem which the project was aimed at, who represented the target audience, what was the goal, what tasks could be formulated, how to calculate the project budget and how to evaluate the effectiveness of the results. During the discussion of each project, certain nuances were revealed, for example, the need to clearly describe a problem or see the target audience clearly. As a result, the Bragin residents “performed” the whole project cycle from the generation of an idea to the evaluation of the effectiveness of the results during the training. In the final of the training, Yuliya Stankevich suggested that participants put themselves in the place of donors and evaluated project applications prepared by her. It allowed the participants to better understand which criteria expert commissions used to select projects for financing. According to the training’s results, Alesya Muzychenko, one of the participants, an employee of the Bragin Museum and a member of the family club “Vdokhnovenie” (“Inspiration”), noted: “The most important thing is probably to understand what the project is, how to properly draw up documents, how not to get confused in values, how to write everything logically and not to lose touch with the real world. I personally realized that Napoleonic plans do not need to be accomplished. The simpler an idea is, the more understandable it is for you and for surrounding people, which means that it is more sustainable in principle.”

The busy working days were finished by creative relaxation. A cultural programme of the workshop included a visit to the concert of the National Academic Folk Choir of the Republic of Belarus n.a. G.I. Tsitovich, a meeting with Roman Yarosh, a researcher in the field of traditional culture, a musician, as well as preparation of a small musical and theatrical performance based on the folk song “Ya zh tebe pidmanula” (“I have lied to you”) under the direction of a singer and song writer Alla Belyavskaya.

To sum up, we can say that this workshop has become one of the most productive among all the workshops held within the framework of the project. The participants got necessary knowledge and skills in the field of project activities, got acquainted with the experience of organizing business and business associations in villages. In addition, the workshop was the start for many participants to generate and design their own ideas, and we hope they would be implemented in the district.

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