In Slovakia we observe and experience in practice several fundamental strategies of work with communities to address their issues – social service delivery, advocacy and community development. Community organizing (the fourth strategy of community work) is still very rarely used in this country even if it could be really powerful approach towards social change thanks to the organization as democratically controlled community institution. The foundation of community organizing is: people with a problem who define their community and decide the problems that they wish to address; the solutions they wish to pursue; and the methods they will use to accomplish their goals.
The Professional Fellows Program (in our case: funded by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and implemented by Great Lakes Consortium for International training and development at WSOS Community Action Commission, Inc.) supports professionals from Slovakia to do that.
ProFellows program brought emerging leaders in the fields of civic engagement; NGO management; local governance and community empowerment from four European countries to the United States for intensive 6-week experience designed to broaden our professional expertise. During our stay in the U.S. we received hands-on exposure to non-profit organizations – focused on community organizing and building grassroots democracy in minority communities. After our return home we put together inspiring book “Taking Action – Changing Lives in Minority Communities” based on our success stories from the fellowships. In this simple publication, edited by DocUnion NGO founder, there are just thirteen testimonies from Slovak Alumni (the Professional Fellows Program participants from period 2012–16) worth reading.
Written by: Bozena Markovic Baluchova; Photos: Slovak Alumni of the Professional Fellowship program (2012–16)