The main priority of ‘Vilnyy Prostir” is the life of a young person in a supportive community that promotes values of dignity, solidarity, social activism, human rights, healthy relationships, and conscious living.
Starting from the family and school class and all the way up to the nation - these all are the communities where people develop themselves and learn how to live with others. Nothing is of such a great importance for human healthy and balanced development as the community. Child abuse, bulling, human trade, depressions, drug abuse, global warming, waste crysis - all of these and many more problems are not personal, they are communal.
At “Vilnyy Prostir” (translated as “Free Space”) we recognise the power of communities since 2014, when the Ukrainian Revolution of Dignity took place. All the seven years after, our mission was to pursue dignity as a community in a peaceful yet powerful way, so that our society can be more value oriented, thus prosper.
Through our seven-year journey we have gathered precious experience. We have been experimenting and analysing data of the impact our community makes, and now we are ready to share our knowledge, so that any fellow of great will and courage can create a healthy community and change the world for the better.
Our dream is to build a strong community of Ukrainian youth who is ready to develop their country in terms of democracy including acceptance and tolerance towards the Other, dignity and value of each and every person, and solidarity in community growth or even in resistance when it comes to human rights violation (as it was proved by our youth participation in the Revolution of Dignity). We see ourselves as those who help our country grow in values and look towards the democratic world following its example.
The problem we are trying to solve:
"We see ignorance as a general problem which leads to all the problems mentioned in the first question. Also, we see the shallowness of knowledge as a reason for people being exploited and manipulated. So we are creating safe environments and training for youth to combat ignorance and we invite leaders, professors, experienced people from all over the country to constantly raise the level of knowledge, virtue and inspiration of the members of our community and all who care to tune in.
Young people in Ukraine face great challenges in the context of the issues that exist in the modern world and in Ukraine in particular. We are working to make our community a place where a free personality is born. By a free person we mean one who is able to defend his or her dignity and defend his/her neighbor’s rights as well. Those who are free are not afraid to build dialogue and relationships. Moreover, he or she clearly sees what is happening in the world around and is able to confront the issues of great concern."
"Ignorance to most of the issues our country faces nowadays is quite common among youth. Members of our community are active volunteers in different parts of Ukraine, trying to help those in need. Many of them have participated in the Revolution of Dignity and helped the army in the East of Ukraine. They had the opportunity to experience war conflict consequences as long as they helped the victims of these events. During cohabitation and close communication with the victims, the issues like lack of governmental support, quality education, access to independent informational services were noticeable. That is why our organization is trying to spread our values and share our knowledge about human rights, dignity and democracy with those who need it. "
The solution we are proposing:
"We want to create an educational program on how to create and maintain a meaningful lifestyle through communities.
We see that our main asset is a lifestyle and a healthy mentality along with an active position in life, and that is what we want to share with others. We form our worldview by actively practicing values and by constantly questioning who we are, why we are, and what for. Basically, we develop the new culture from the impulse of the Revolution (Maidan). We share it through different events, through art we make and by being open to everybody who wants to visit us and take some of our knowledge and experience.
To live via the culture is to be in the community and not in the very much distorted, individual and success oriented world. We are not against success but we are for a balanced life which is impossible without values, human rights defense, tolerance and a true friend to lean on."
"That will make us able to train young people on how to create, maintain and live within a healthy community which can positively impact the street, the district, the city and the country after all. By being active volunteers, orphans carers, human rights activists, by making art for justice and peace, we are able to make great changes in the minds of people around us. This way we develop Ukraine as an independent non-corrupt democratic state based on values and dignity of a human being."
We are already heading towards our goal. Now we will start to open our centers all over Ukraine and implement an educational program with courses on the above-mentioned issues in the centers and communities we develop.
What success looks like for us:
We consider the work of our organization as successful these days and promising for the future. The results of values development in our communities are already visible in real life, even outside the community. There are more than two hundred people who have lived in our communities, and about a thousand people we consider our friends and bearers of ideas. All of them are active volunteers and change makers, including those that are working on their own projects right now. Our aim is to continue development and growth of the community that is ready to take the future of the country in their hands. Therefore, it would be an enormous success for us if in ten years we see more than a thousand of our members spread all over Ukraine, taking responsibilities for small communities and developing them in terms of human rights, tolerance, respect, active position and being ready for making great changes for the better. The impact on youth will be visible from the social atmosphere, the presence of youth in NGOs and in the government, the discourse in the society they will form, as well as from the quantity and quality of the projects inspired by our educational program that will aim to tackle issues Ukraine faces nowadays (corruption, poverty, rights violation, intolerance, discrimination etc.).
Where we are are based:
Funding we are applying for:
$10,000 - $12,000 per year
How this funding will help us achieve our goals:
"Besides the help in opening new centers in Kyiv, Odessa, Dnipro, Kharkiv etc., we will be able to fund the software to design and host the courses. Also, we would be able to make an open call for academic studies in the field of human rights, democracy studies, volunteering and social aid services, social psychology, educational technology. Those will significantly help in creating a unique program for the Ukrainian youth of the future."
How this funding will strengthen our group:
Even the fact that we achieved recognition and our idea is valuable will strengthen our spirit. The very act of applying and formulating our goals is a constructive behaviour we seek. But the funding itself will allow us to go full-time in developing healthy communities of great change.
How we gain by being a Spark Fund partner:
We look forward to our Vilnyy Prostir community growing and spreading, building sustainability, and creating possibilities for even more change in our small youth communities all over Ukraine.
How we would like to spend a grant through the Spark Fund:
"Our big dream is to spread our NGO all over Ukraine and start creating communities of values in every city and town, engaging young people and changing their minds towards the development of their own lives as well as lives of those around them. Once we have financial aid for opening new centers around the country, we will start implementing some courses and knowledge sharing sessions by those who have started this big idea and continue to care about the Vilnyy Prostir community. We have a course proposal ready. And our study sessions will be dedicated to the topics of dialogue with the Other, acceptance, volunteering for change, leadership and the ability of making your small community stronger and prosperous."
Our Annual Income:
Our Organization Structure:
"Each year, every member of our community has the opportunity to elect Board members or to be elected to the Board team by democratic elections. We have five separate communities that assemble “Vilnyy Prostir” in Lviv. Every community has a main responsible person who observes adherence to the values, prevents conflicts, keeps a healthy and safe environment for the community. Board members are the people who care about the development of the communities giving them financial aid, solving household issues and helping a community to stay in tune with the main idea and values. So, basically, decision-making is in the hands of each and every member of our community as well as the initiatives. We also have common meetings weekly and monthly when every community member can share his or her ideas for us to implement."
"Our organization is a community of horizontal relations. The Board team has clear responsibilities and tasks, but each member of the community can join in the discussion of important decisions, provide feedback to their representatives, create local rules of coexistence in their communities and initiate their own events and projects. Also, the Board members have clear reports every month of the work they have done and the money they have spent (with invoices, clearly)."
"We are a completely youth-led community, but we welcome those grown-up people who are willing to share knowledge and courage with us as our trainers and teachers. We understand that infantile behaviour leads to nowhere and is not inspiring in any possible way.
Being youth-led means working on the issues we face from the youth perspective we have. Young people tend to see the critical issues more clearly and they are supposed to have courage and will for radical changes. As young people, we have our minds still less corrupt and that is why starting your active path from a young age means healthy perspectives for both you and the people you are trying to impact."