In 2005-2009 the Åland Islands Peace Institute was running the project “Nendre – Lessons Learned ” in cooperation with the Center for Women and Children Nendre in Vilnius, Lithuania. The project, which was funded by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland and Emmaus Åland, aimed to share Nendre’s experiences of social work among marginalized social groups to organizations in the Kaliningrad region and Belarus. Another goal was to start similar initiatives in the partner countries, focusing on democracy and equal participation as a basis for a change on the individual as well as the societal level.
As a result of the project, several partner organizations have started their own social initiatives, which continue to a varying extent even after the end of the project term. The NGO Zvezda Nadezhdy (“The Star of Hope”) in Kaliningrad has chosen underage pregnant girls as its target group. Through counseling and guidance the young women receive support for developing their maternity skills and dealing with the mental, physical and social changes connected to the pregnancy. After the child is born the mothers are given continuous support in accordance with an individual action plan, which aims to strengthen the emotional connection with the child and to create conditions for a safe family environment.
Another organization in the Kaliningrad region, Vozrozhdenije semji (“Rebirth of the Family”), has been working with single mothers who lack motivation to raise their children and improve the living conditions of their families. The mothers are offered social, legal and psychological counseling; the children are involved in art therapy and other activities and the families receive an opportunity to participate in various cultural activities. The cooperation with the Belarusian organizations, which was established during the project “Nendre – Lessons Learned”, continued since 2007 with support from the Nordic Council of Ministers under the name “Nordic-Baltic-Belarusian Network for Empowerment of marginalized groups and prevention of trafficking” (read more below).
During the project, twelve network meetings have been arranged for the partner organizations. Apart from sharing the experiences and getting acquainted with the different social services offered at Nendre, the meetings also included workshops and discussions on such topics as social, gender and family policy, social inclusion, gender equality, organization development and human trafficking. The project also resulted in a method manual that describes the model of social and educational work developed at Nendre; a new website for Nendre and a series of publications by the Russian partner organizations, which are addressed both to their clients (women and children) as well as to other actors working with this target group.