Raccoon becomes Rakun
Number of people, that were involved in the war, as a percentage of the society as a whole in Croatia, and Bosnia-Hercegovina, and Serbia-Montenegro, is much larger (~10x) than it was in the US after the Vietnam war, yet there is scarcity of projects that work with PTSD in that region.
Violent patterns of behavior learned in war are easily inherited by children, creating a more violent society, and making it possible for the cycle of violence to repeat AGAIN: that’s how people in the Balkans never unlearn to ‘solve’ their problems using violent means.
There is even less done on trans-frontier reconciliation between people who were involved in fighting. We found only one such project in the region: "Four Views" by Center for Non-Violent Action Belgrade-Sarajevo, under the motto - "How did I end up in the war? How can we build the lasting peace?"
Ths situation is, also, only likely to worsen: Open Society is closing its doors in Croatia in a year, shutting down their grant-giving and leaving a lot of small NGO-s without funding, and Croatian government will shut down its Veteran Administration coming this fall.
Therefore, Raccoon decided to move some of its activities back to the region. We conducted an extensive research of possibilities to open an NGO in the region. We compared legislation pertinent to that issue in Serbia-Montenegro, Slovenia, Bosnia-Hercegovina, and Croatia. And, ultimately, we decided to set up the shop in Croatia.
We were guided by the following reasons:
- One member of our board recently moved to Croatia, and two other board members have addresses in Croatia. So, there should be the best chance of us being accepted as a local NGO in Croatia.
- Croatia and Slovenia have comparable legal environment, with Serbia-Montenegro slightly lagging behind in matters of accountability, and BiH, de-facto being ruled by the international community.
- Slovenia, while being the most developed in the region, might stop attracting EU donor money in the very near future, because the transition there is deemed to be finished (they will be in EU as of next year). And, Croatia is still a country in transition, and in need of NGO work. Croatia is in the preparatory stages for EU acceptance (expected in 2007), when EU is known to be giving the largest grants to help transitional processes (PHARE).
- Croatia share both the language and the problems (uncared for Vietnam syndrome among very large group of war veterans) with BiH and SCG. Presence in Slovenia (or, for example Macedonia) would require us to do more extensive translation jobs.
We obtained necessary forms and legal advice to set up an NGO in Croatia. The BOD of Rakun will initially comprise of Ivo, Indira, Milan, and Mario. We translated our statement of purpose and mission statement and used our existing by-laws as a template for the statute of the Croatian Rakun NGO.