A Trip to Eastern Europe

A Trip to Eastern Europe

A Trip to Eastern Europe

The EoC and the IUS as partners seeking to erase poverty


The month of February offered the IUS some interesting occasions for research in the area of economy in Eastern Europe, particularly in Serbia, in Belgrade and in the Vojvodina.  The first contact came about during the Winter School on topics of economy held at the little City of Faro at Kricevci, in Croatia on Feb. 2-3.  The dialogue amongst the young people and entrepreneurs helped bring to the surface the challenges and the opportunities that the Economy of Communion faces today in countries where communist ideology previously reigned, who were then ravaged by the war, and are now experiencing the limit of the current economic system and difficulties in consolidating its own society and economy.


Cristina Viano, author of the article, Jena Debbaneh and Marta Pancheva, researchers at the IUS


From February 4 to 9, Jena Debbaneh and Cristina Viano, young researchers at the IUS, working on a project that will evaluate the impact on poverty by EoC initiatives, were able to get to know from up close businesspeople and families involved in the project in Serbia.  With them were also some representatives of the International EoC Commission, together with Marta Pancheva from Bulgaria who received a degree at the IUS in 2012, and the person responsible for Cooperation on Development in Serbia, the Italian Santa Mole`, interested in delving deeper into the EoC and the culture of giving on which it is founded.


The EoC in Serbia is concentrated in the Vojvodina region; it does not have great numbers but it has, rather, various experiences representative of a society where the local communities are still strong, even if very tried by unemployment, by scarce agricultural productivity and a lack of services.  It is made up of artisans who share their profit since the beginnings of the EoC and who now must innovate their production, young people who wish to start up workshops and  stores, cattle raisers who collaborate on production of cattle feed and give the poor what they produce since they do not have profits, entrepreneurs who have in common the choice of giving part of their  profit to the EoC project, even as a consequence of different business strategies (such as the little enterprise that gives credit to clients not based on interest rates, but on a relationship of trust; the biggest society that is making an effort to conciliate dimensional growth with attention towards the local community and to maintaining the number of jobs available; the manager of an industry who, even while not the owner, administers the activity according to EoC principles).


Other significant moments during the trip were meetings with some of the groups benefiting from EoC initiatives: a lunch service for children, families and elderly people; a Caritas Centre organizing entertainment activities for both young and old. Families who are willing to tell us their experiences: elderly people who cannot afford medical care; couples who cannot pay for their children’s education or who, while still working, are forced to live with their children in a tiny dwelling built with recovered materials, in a situation of material misery and at the same time, a great dignity and openness towards their neighbours.


It is clear that the economic model founded on the culture of giving continues to attract and to propose itself as a valid solution, until it rethinks the socio-economic system from its very base.  With the awareness that even for EoC businesses, and the same International Commission, it is fundamental to innovate and anticipate  changes (emblematic will be the costs that the Balkan countries will find themselves supporting, for future acceptance into the European Union, beside prospects of development).


The role of the new generations is fundamental in this process, of young people attracted by the Ideal proposed by the EoC and with competences in matter of health and work security, environment, marketing, project administration, accounting, who can also offer entrepreneurs a concrete contribution both at a local level (Serbia may serve as a pilot project in this sense), as well as at an International level.


Finally, there was the usual important moment of dialogue with the Orthodox Serbian community, in particular with the Institute for the Study of Dialogue between Culture and Christianity, to whom was presented the IUS, its spirit and its formation possibilities, considering the likelihood of welcoming to Italy some students coming from the Orthodox Church.



Text: Cristina Viano

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