How the Bulletin Came About

By Galiya Kalimova

The idea arose long ago to have our own publication reflecting the needs and demands of the third sector, current events, and most importantly, the possibility to appeal directly to the reader and share the joys and sorrows which accompany everything new and uncertain. The idea was discussed numerous times within each organization existing at that time. However, the lack of personal resources made that dream impossible. The idea of an NGO bulletin was raised at the first working meeting of Sukhum’s non-governmental organizations, held in August 1996.

Gradually, the idea grew into a project that proposed establishing a "writers’ group" that would not only write a bulletin about the third sector and human rights issues, but also cover the activities of international humanitarian missions. It was suggested that between issues, the writers’ group could operate as an agency and distribute information about humanitarian actions in Abkhazia. Potential donors often expressed interest, but unfortunately, the project was never funded. Now, finally, in the framework of a program on cross-conflict development of non-governmental organizations, we can start work on this very first issue.

This project for NGO development has been under way for several months. Its goal is to make concrete steps toward trust-building between ordinary people on both sides of the conflict based upon a better knowledge and understanding of one another. As part of this project, members of NGOs from Abkhazia and Georgia met in Sochi in September 1997. Abkhaz representatives were from The Centre for Humanitarian Programmes and the Ecological Society "Apsabara." The Georgian representatives were from the Caucasian Institute for Peace, Democracy and Development; the Foundation for Multilateral Aid to Georgia; Gaia (a school for ecological education); and the Foundation for Development of Human Resources. The Director of the program, and organizer of this meeting, is Paula Garb, a professor of Social Ecology from the University of California, Irvine. The project is sponsored by a widely-known American foundation, The Winston Foundation for World Peace. At this meeting we discussed problems of global interest, including Black Sea environmental issues, environmental and civic education, and the possibility for a joint publication. It was decided, however, to have separate publications from each side.

Today, after a long process of discussion and reflection, we finally offer the first edition of our long-awaited bulletin, and hope that it will be kindly accepted with interest.

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