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WORKING AND LEARNING TOGETHER TO BUILD STRONGER COMMUNITIES, TUZLA (BiH)

Posted by (econ) on 06.04.2017
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Tuzla Community Foundation from Bosnia and Herzegovina supports development of active neighborhoods through the Model of Community Organizing. This approach is targeted in the heart of communities in which time has stopped. So far, they have worked with 18 communities using this approach, mostly in rural communities, in the outskirts of Tuzla.
Since it has provided positive outcomes, Tuzla Community Foundation formed the Network of Active Communities and let people share lessons learned through the process. This Network is open to any community that wants to join in and develop. Community members need to show initiative to learn, change and share skills and knowledge. The change needs to be launched from within in order to drive positive results. The methodology used within the Model is based on several core steps and Foundation's role in this cycle is helping people to help themselves.
At first, Tuzla Community Foundation helps people organize in so called Local Group for Community Development. It is usually a small group at the beginning. The first step is to provide them with training in order to gain skills such as communication, leadership, teamwork, advocacy, project writing, networking etc. This is highly important since they become empowered to lead the process of change themselves. The next step they take is community assessment so to list resources, potentials and priorities of the entire community. Then, they reach other stakeholders such as representatives of some organizations interested in the community, institutions, government, and business companies, individuals (men, women, youth, and children) and so on. This way, they form a strong team whose members are willing to devote their time, knowledge and skills in planning the community development. Hence, they create a document called Community Development Plan based on the priorities listed during the assessment.
The Local Group for Community Development then applies with a project proposal to Tuzla Community Foundation, following the aforementioned Plan. When they get the grant they implement small projects in the community. This might me be the most important step in the cycle of change since project results need to be visible in the community and tangible as well, which is crucial if the group wants to gain people's trust. They want to see actual changes and benefits right away. Generally speaking, there is a lot of mistrust nowadays and the biggest challenge for the group is to become trustworthy in their community. Once the Local Group for community Development implements a few projects, people usually become curious about who is doing these investments and eventually they find out that there is a group of locals who organized themselves for the wellbeing of their community. Eventually, more people start joining in and Local Group for Community Development grows bigger. The Cycle wraps up with evaluation of the process and rolls another cycle with a new development plan, based on lessons learned.
Tuzla Community Foundation takes a role of a mentor in community development process building people’s capacities and it tends to develop the culture of learning, letting the locals lead the process.    
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