International NGO Day: flashmobs, awards and photoprojects
International NGO Day was celebrated on 27 February. It was organised by the International NGO forum and is dedicated to all the NGOs that support people throughout the world.
According to TASS, the idea of non-governmental organisations was first introduced in Russia as part of the Fundamental Principles of Civil Law of the USSR and its republics (and was subsequently approved by the USSR’s Supreme Soviet on 31 May 1991). It was subsequently re-stated in 1994 in the Civil Code of the Russian Federation. On 12 January 1996 the Russian President Boris Yeltsin signed the law ‘On non-governmental organisations’ which continues to regulate the activities of Russian NGOs.
Elena Topoleva, who chairs the Commission of the Public Chamber that develops the NGO sector and supports NGOs involved in social welfare projects, quoted data from the Ministry of Justice showing that there are around 220,000 NGOs in Russia – the number has remained virtually unchanged over the years – including 33,583 NGOs in Moscow alone, with over 6,000 of them involved in social welfare.
However, surveys have revealed that 43% of Muscovites say that they do not know enough about the work of NGOs and would like to find out more. In order to provide more detailed information about organisations and individuals that provide voluntary services to people in need in the capital, the NGO Resource Centre decided to organise a flashmob. Everyone who took part in it was asked to post details of their voluntary work on line, including tributes to particular people or organisations that have helped them. The posts appear under the hashtags #doinggood #spiritualmoscow. Remember to let other people know about it. The webpage of the NGO Resource Centre on Facebook says: ‘Let’s tell everyone that Moscow is a spiritual town!’
The centre has also organised a photo project in which people working for NGOs are encouraged to upload photographs onto an online photo album that is circulated through social media and to describe the work they do on a daily basis to improve the lives of others. Contributors to date include: Tatyana Pavlova, General Director of the Sunny Circle Centre for Further Education and Development; Viktor Vinogradov, President of the Moscow Federation of Physical Education, Sport and Tourism for People with Musculoskeletal Diseases; and Anna Makarchuk, Director of the Jewish Museum and the Centre for Tolerance. Each of the them has posted their photograph and described how they first became involved in NGO work.
On 27 February the Mayor of Moscow Sergei Sobyanin also handed out awards to the leaders of NGOs to celebrate the contributions they have made to important social projects and civic society. 41 NGO leaders were recognised for their work in helping Muscovites in a variety of valuable ways – supporting large families and working mothers, caring for children, promoting education, preserving cultural sites, protecting the environment and taking in stray animals.