We are engaged in several main types of activities: peacebuilding, human rights defense and work with local community. Our peacebuilding efforts include rehabilitation and facilitation of dialogue. Human rights work is mostly about defending and educating people.
As for the local community, we work with deputies, schools and youth programs on a regular basis. In addition, we used to implement a project on transparent budget. Yet, after the law “On foreign agents” came into force, we had to suspend that program, because it became impossible to cooperate with the authorities.
The criminal case against Valentina Cherevatenko, the NGO’s chairperson, was initiated more than eight months ago. All the documents that were taken away during the search have not been returned until today. Even though Mr Tolmachev, who is prosecuting this case, assured the judge that he would return them by the end of January. We have filed a cassation appeal to the Supreme Court regarding the order on institution of criminal proceedings. Step by step, we are trying to prove that the accusation was unlawful.
Our community liaison office has been operating for 20 years already. We mostly receive visitors from Novocherkassk and its surroundings. The problems that people come with are very different. This can be intra-familial conflicts, labor disputes, or disputes with lending agencies. All our services are free of charge, and this is very important, because most of those who come to us are low-income people.
One of our visitors is currently living in a substandard municipal house with her disabled mother and two daughters of school age. Officially this building is ranked as “dilapidated housing”, and the lady is legally entitled to get a new accommodation. She tried to contact the relevant municipal agencies and organizations, but even though they agreed with her argumentation, they could not solve her problem nevertheless.
After we visited this house and studied all the details of the case, we decided to provide the lady with free legal support. Now, we will represent her interests in court.
Steering Committee is a permanently active coordinating body that manages the NGO’s activities in between of our meetings. It represents our NGO on all the issues, facilitates the implementation of all the decisions that were adopted at the Committee’s meetings, and organizes and holds various events (e.g. conferences, symposiums, meetings, etc.). The Steering Committee is also in charge of target programs and it determines the sources of funding for the NGO.
The Committee’s meetings are rarely tranquil and calm. As a rule, we argue and have blamestorming sessions. Yet, the most interesting part starts when we begin to dream, or, in other words, plan our future. But this time we have discussed a different and a much more complicated issue.
We usually celebrate our colleagues’ birthdays in this very family way. This time it was the birthday of our psychologist Natalia Belikova. In fact, a tableful with tea and a cake (which is often homemade) is one of our old traditions. The women who work in the NGO are excellent cooks – they are always happy to treat their colleagues with something exquisite. In the early years of NGO’s operation its employees even published a cookbook with the best recipes for both young and experienced cooks to use.
Women of the Don also celebrate other holidays throwing feasts like this one. The favorite holiday is the New Year, when every person receives a small gift. Then, we altogether make our New Year’s wishes. We usually wish success to the Union and simple human happiness to its employees, activists, volunteers, their families, children and grandchildren.