Who we are
The First Children's Embassy in the World Megjashi is an international NGO with the purpose to protect children and their rights and to strengthen the NGO movement for the children's rights. Founded on the 29th of April 1992, Megjashi strives for respecting the child's personality through protection of their rights, advocating for their best interests, connecting children from different backgrounds and enriches their lives with events that make the childhood secure and fruitful. It also strengthens the NGO movement for protection of children rights in the Republic of Macedonia, by developing the voluntary approach in its operation and by exercising concern for the Convention of Children Rights.
Social movements, institutions and organizations have tasked themselves with alleviating injustice by creating the same chances for each child and ensuring a safe, positive and encouraging environment for children throughout their early childhood. As one of the leading children’s rights organizations in Macedonia, the First Children's Embassy in the World Megjashi, contributes in realizing this.
Megjashi is the first registered NGO for protection of the children's rights in the Republic of Macedonia in the period of transition. With its activities it contributed in the development and strengthening of the civil awareness for the children's rights, broke the silence of the children's sufferings revealing many cases of child abuse in public and it directly engaged itself in establishing more efficient mechanisms for protection of the child.
1.1. Problem analysis
In November 1993, Macedonia signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child and developed a basic law for ensuring children’s rights, i.e. the Law on Child Protection. However, since its independence, Macedonia experienced economic, social and political turmoil. Its resources limit Macedonia's commitment to children's rights and welfare. Macedonia does have social welfare programs to support children, but the current economic crisis has rendered many inoperative.
Although Macedonia experiences a low infant mortality rate, disparities in access to health and education between rural and urban areas are an obstacle towards achieving the low mortality rate of Western European countries. Over 92 per cent of children in Macedonia are immunized and safe of diseases such as tuberculosis, polio and rubella. Children are prepared for elementary school through formal pre-school education as well as community based early learning initiatives aimed at developing child’s cognitive abilities.
Still, 8 percent of the children are not immunized, and 10 percent of the Roma children never enrol in school. Some 2 percent of children are not registered at birth. Pre-school education remains to be low at 12%. Children in rural and poor communities have difficulties accessing basic social services due to traditional attitudes towards early marriage for girls, start of work for boys and the looming economic situation. Children working and begging in the street continue to pose challenge for the country to work on the realisation of children rights.
In early 2001, an ethnically-driven conflict erupted in Macedonia between ethnic Macedonians and ethnic Albanians. During the nine months of sustained fighting, approximately 170,000 individuals were displaced. Hostilities ceased in the Autumn of 2001 with the signing of the Ohrid Framework Agreement.
The majority of those displaced have now returned to their original communities. However, considerable inter-ethnic tension remains, and many individuals fear another protracted conflict. An environment of scarce economic opportunities compounds ethnic tension lingering from the 2001 conflict. Unemployment in some areas affected by the fighting is as high as 80%.
After more than nine months of conflict, the situation in Macedonia finally began to stabilize in the Autumn of 2001. Compounding this problem is a lack of trust and confidence between different ethnicities in many of the returnee communities, promoting real and/or perceived safety and security concerns.
A lingering ethnic tension exists, especially in the areas where there was direct conflict in 2001. Collaboration between groups of different ethnicity is rare, and most communities are characterized at best by a tendency to simply co-exist. Many fear another ethnically driven conflict.
At the high-school level, while both ethnic Macedonians and ethnic Albanians attend the same high schools, courses are taught in either Albanian or Macedonian. This issue further divides ethnic Macedonians and ethnic Albanians into separate groups, preventing dialogue in the classroom and inhibiting tolerance and multi-ethnic cooperation. Activities that bring ethnic Macedonian and ethnic Albanian youth together in meaningful ways to address the ethnic divide are rare and usually limited to one-time events.
1.2. How it all started
As a reaction on the eruption of war in former Yugoslavia, in June 1991, the region around the village Megjashi was declared as “the First Children's Country in the World”. The village is situated on the border of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia and Croatia. With the creation of the First Children’s Country, the ideological father, Mr. Dushko Tomic, hoped that the flames of nationalistic and religious doctrines would stifle. The Megjashi project drew a remarkable amount of attention upon itself from ex-Yugoslav and European media alike, representing a world without violence in which childrens’ rights are respected.
In April 1992 a dramatic appeal was forwarded from Sarajevo for the temporary evacuation of thousands of children who needed to be saved from all-destructive shelling. In Skopje this appeal was heard, after which Gordana Pirovska-Zmijanac and her husband Dragi Zmijanac took the initiative to found the First Children’s Embassy in the World Megjashi. What followed was the establishing of an airlift from Sarajevo to Skopje, through which around 6000 mothers and children found refuge in Macedonia. After the first immediate support for the children in the war in former Yugoslavia, Megjashi settled down and consolidated. Still, during the following years Megjashi continued to offer support to chidren affected by war and violence. At first only for the children and mothers from former Yugoslavia, later also refugees from Kosovo and Macedonia found their way to Megjashi. In the course of its existence, tens of thousands of mothers and children from all denominations and nationalities have found safety through the support of Megjashi.
Currently, Megjashi is recognized as the leading Macedonian NGO for advocating and promoting children’s’ rights. It brought down the wall of silence concerning children rights, especially related to physical, sexual and economic abuse of children, thereby exposing to the public numerous cases of abuse and directly supporting the establishment of more effective mechanisms for protection of children. As a confirmation of its work, Megjashi received the first award for civil society and democracy in 2001. The award was given in recognition of its lasting and sustainable contribution in developing civil awareness of children's rights, as well as because of the numerous campaigns and publications in this area.
1.3. Megjashi’s approach to work
Conflict resolution approach. The concept built on the basis of many years of experience of the Centre for Non-violent Action from Belgrade and Sarajevo is adapted to the local requirements. The concept is based on the principle of topics oriented interactions. Programme focus is the following: raising sensitiveness for violence, communication, building team work skills and strengthening. The approach in ethnically mixed groups requires gradually providing of safe space for dealing with the present tensions and fears in a very constructive way.
Training’s methods are characterized with participation and inter activity. High level of involvement of all the participants is required, although being on a safe space they are pushed into simulated situation, they get confronted and express their attitudes, they listen to what others need to say and have the opportunity to analyze them selves and the opportunity to change.
One of the main goals of the trainings is introduction to the basic concepts of non-violent resolutions of conflicts and its practical application in everyday life and work as well as the opportunity to have a different approach to the conflict situations. The idea is to layout responsibility in individuals, to emphasize the importance and power that they have as significant postulate for constructive action in society. Very important component of the training is the responsibility transfer moment for participants in the training while the team of trainers has the responsibility for process structuring. The process dynamics are in great deal set by the participants through their involvement while the team leaders are adjusting to the interests and requirements of the group. Under this principle, applying this approach and providing space for involving all participants the effect is attained for encouraging people to express their thoughts and feelings, to take initiative and responsibility. The methods used in the workshops are directed towards learning through experience, require profound intellectual and emotional involvement, integrated with body movements.
The training is consisted of workshops regarding various issues mutually complemented, following up the work group dynamics, the group energy and capability for working on the issues which are very sensitive and can cause strong emotions.
Most frequent topics on the trainings are the following: violence and non-violence, understanding the conflicts, analyses of the conflicts, team work, decision making, non-violent communication, perception, presumptions and stereotypes, gender role in society, identity/national identities, leadership, power, peace building, creative conflict resolution. The selection of training topics depends of the duration of training, the group and the trainers’ team.
Generally, the group of participants is consisted of 20 people.
Main goals of the training:
Raising the awareness and gaining knowledge of the concept and questions regarding violence (directive and structural), diversity, identity and national identity, civil society, power, human rights etc.
Skills development: team work, non-violent communication, understanding, analyses and creative conflict resolution, dealing with stress and fear, dealing and acceptance of power and diversity etc.
Empowering individuals to become active participants in the civil society.
(a) reasons for the proposed methodology
1. Social Mobilization provides possibilities for massive involvement of the public, directly or indirectly, the institutions working on the issues comprised in this project (Ministry for Education, the media, other high schools etc.)
2. CNA Methodology provides possibilities for confronting with sensitive issues (which takes courage) specifically responsibility, revising the attitudes, which helps developing communication skills, cooperation skills, facing with emotions, facing with presumptions, facing with diversity and personal power and all these are important skills required for constructive resolutions of conflict. Trainings are directed towards commencing review processes through active participation and interaction of participants, in which they revise their attitudes and search for behaviours that would be in compliance with their own feelings for responsibility and their own system of values, the trainings do not aim towards changing participants’ personalities to a certain defined models of behaviour. Training workshops have certain structure which provides and initiates the process of clarification and revising instead of bringing ready answers and solutions through the acknowledgments of the workshop leaders/trainers which would be accepted by participants with no critics. The training initiates and requires revising of self personalities of participants, initiates the process of accepting and giving constructive critics which are possible to be achieved in environment filled with confidence and responsibility during the work process. The training process would not be successful without active participants. The training effects are multiple: Establishing solid ground for reconciliation process, up surging the awareness for human rights, Revising of self presumptions, Understanding and accepting of emotions, Encouraging and building of personality, Sharing experience, Effect of multiplication through motivation of participants to practices their acknowledgments in the living environment.
Child abuse. One of the most significant roles of Megjashi is to enable children with effective prevention from child abuse and protection of their rights. Those aims are accomplished through organized forms of activities that offer direct services to children, such as: SOS telephone for children and youth, legal assistance, psycho-social counseling, children's workshops and the Daily Center for children on streets that will start working in two months. Its methodology is based on the core principles of respect, equality and inclusiveness using a non-violent conflict resolution approach to achieve meaningful and lasting change. In the implementation of its activities, Megjashi employs the support of several external actors to perform the activities. Volunteers are included in most of the activities, while Child Ambassadors are appointed for lobbing and advocating.
1.5. Megjashi’s participation in various networks
Megjashi is eager to work together with new emerging child rights NGOs sharing its experiences and resources. For this reason, Megjashi is a member of numerous domestic and international organizations, among others Civil Platform of the Replublic of Macedonia, Global March Against Child Labor, Defense for Children International, Child Rights Information Network, and Child Helpline International.
2. Direct services for children
On behalf of the children in Macedoniaand internationally, Megjashi is looking for support for our direct services for children, which promotes, uphold and advocates for the rights of children in Macedonia. Megjashi, supported by its volunteers, external experts, trainers and the honorary members of Megjashi, is implementing this programme. Protection of children's rights
Throughout the years, Megjashi has created and provided a range of creative, educational and counseling services for the most disadvantaged groups of children. It is important for the children if this work continues in the years to come, consisting of:
- Development of the capacity of SOS help line for Children and Youth-The help line exists for 15 years now and has received over 17000 calls. From 2005 the line is financed by Macedonia Telecommunications so the calls are free of charge. We have 15 volunteers working on the SOS line that are students on social work-studies, psychology and pedagogy. The volunteers are guided by a team of professionals (social worker, pedagogues, psychologist and defectologist). This way the Embassy has provided sustainability of the line.
- Development of the capacity of the legal and social service to children or families in need-We have an attorney that is voluntarily working on cases connected to protection of the rights of the children. Whenever we have acknowledged that the rights of the child have been broken we take matters in our hands and react according to the case. Sometimes we write request to the Social Services Centres, to the ombudsman, the police or the ministries in charge. We have acted in many cases, which resulted beneficiary for the children.
- Daily centre for children on streets will be established in two months. We will work with the children from the so-called “cardboard settlement” in the settlements Aerodrom and Novo Lisiche. But in order to provide better living condition for the children we will also work and cooperate with the parents.
Megjashi stands for respect of the child’s personality through protection of the children’s rights and living in peace, by strengthening the NGO movement for the rights of the children, encouraging and developing volunteerism and caring for implementation of the Convention for the rights of the child.
Year by year, the number of projects that Megjashi works on is bigger, therefore with the new strategic plan these projects are developed into programmes. The assigned working plan intends to reach the above mentioned aim as well as strengthening the capacity of the organization through realization of the activities. Enlarging the working capacity of the organisational staff means more efficient accomplishment of the program activities as well as more successful fundraising. For the coming years, Megjashi formulated the following aims in its work:
Megjashi is a professional organisation that provides direct services to children in need. Megjashi is recognised as expert organisation on the field of children’s issues and respected as negotiating partner by local and national governments and institutions, and is capable of:
a) continuously developing common vision, approaches and methods regarding the promotion of children’s rights in Macedonia and the Balkans
b) preparing annual action plans, with a description of the efficient use of all human resources in the organisation, as well as programme management development
c) advocating and lobbying on national and international level for ratification of the Convention of Children’s Rights and to create public support for its mission
d) facilitating the establishment and development of regional and national networks.
This year the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy has granted us financial support for the Daily Centre for children on streets. But the finances are only for seven months. That means that as soon as we start making progress with the children the project will end. If we don’t continue with the work those children will go back to the streets. We have provided the needed space and the equipment for the Daily Centre, which is near the settlements where the children live. We need financial support for transportation so we can have our own vehicle that will bring the children to the Daily Centre from their homes. This is really important part in the work with children on streets.
The Macedonian Telecommunication supports the SOS line, so we need to provide only human resources. In addition to this we have 15 volunteers (social workers, psychologist, pedagogues) but we need financial support for the expenses of the volunteers not only on the SOS line but also the volunteer in the legal service.
Our services are very important to be provided to the children in Macedonia. To do this we need constant support for our services for at least one year. That is why we are asking you for financial support for our direct services for children. From your web site we found out that you support programmes concerning children on street and street children. As you can see our goals are towards children inclusion in schools and improving their living conditions. Getting your support we will make a great difference to the children in Macedonia.
Annex 1. Detailed information
For further information, please contact us at the following telephones:
+ 389 (0)2 2465 316, + 389 (0)2 2463 900, or
In a UNICEF handbook, the author, Mrs. Sue Gilbert, wrote: "Macedonia is well known in relation to the children's rights, because the First Children's Embassy in the World Megjashi was founded there".
Reaching out vulnerable children in Macedonia
International evidence relating to the gamut of child protection issues clearly demonstrates that vulnerable children (especially poor and/or marginalized children from ethnic minorities and/or households with limited resources) are more likely to suffer neglect, discrimination, abuse or exploitation at the hands of service providers and others. Poor and marginalized children are also more likely to be sexually exploited and abused, trafficked and/or employed in an unsafe or otherwise exploitative environment. There are some mechanisms for support of the vulnerable groups of children but they are not supported continuously by the state, they are not known to the children and children do not know where to turn when they need help and someone to talk to.
In the period from 4th of July to 31st of January 2012 First Children’s Embassy in the World Megjashi implemented the activities from the project “Reaching out vulnerable children in Macedonia” supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) presented by the Office for cooperation in Skopje. The main goal of the project is to contribute to the improvement of life of vulnerable children by providing appropriate social, psychological and legal support for them.
2. The situation with the rights of the vulnerable children
It is difficult to say that the situation of our main target group (vulnerable children) was improved last 7 months. It depends how we look over the things. If for example, we begin with a legislative, the institutions, the changes of the laws, conventions, than logically we will say that yes, there is an improvement in respecting the children rights.
The First Children’s Embassy in the World Megjashi still is most worried that all these changes of the laws last years are practically very little implemented in the way that is the most desirable. We have identified implementation problems especially in the Laws for primary and secondary education which are very important for the involvement of the vulnerable group of children into the educational process. That happens for a several reasons, for example some of the law changes were made without previously consulting the conditions for their implementation, that usually means deficit of human or technical support of the state institutions which should implement these laws in practice, not well and sufficiently educated people, isolated acting and lack of collaboration and coordination on several levels as inadequate implementation. Macedonia can do much more with its kids! We need more attention toward children and strategic actions for solving the bitter questions that will not solve through night, but if we approach them comprehensively they will for sure have an impact.
Brеaking of the children rights has its continuity and is from different character. Macedonia has 5-6% of the total number of the children that are not going to school, 2000 street children, only 9-15% (depends on the municipality) of the children are included in the preschool education, that is very important for the vulnerable group of children.
We really hope that with this project we succeeded to improve the situation of the vulnerable children helping them in different ways: advocacy and lobbying, education, direct services, SOS helpline for children and youth and counselling, Free legal service, Daily Center for children who do not attend school...
Results/ bigger accomplishments achieved in the reporting period
With the implementation of this project were achieved the following results:
Recruited 9 volunteers (psychologists, pedagogies, social workers) to work on the SOS helpline. The services of the SOS helpline are provided every day 12 hours.
Annual report about the work of the SOS helpline for the period January - December 2011 is prepared and presented on the press conference conducted in February 2012.
The First Children’s Embassy in the World Megjashi has reacted trough media about the monstrous case of paedophilia and rape in Skopje. Children’s Embassy Megjashi is continuously fighting against paedophilia by requesting the highest punishment for the paedophiles, as well as collecting data for the persons who have raped and abused children. Our organisation is deeply concerned that this data is reported mostly from the marginalized and rural environment, which doesn't mean that it is not present in the urban environment.
The National Commission on the Rights of the Child in Republic of Macedonia recommends to the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies in the frame of its possibilities to provide continuous functioning of the SOS toll free helpline for children and youth as a six digit European number 116 111, that is accessible from all mobile and landlines in Macedonia.
The Child Helpline International has sent letters for support to the President of the RM, the Prime Minister of the Government of the RM, the General Secretary of the Government of the RM, the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies, and the Agency for Electronic Communication to express the support and to emphasize the importance of the harmonization of the SOS helpline with the European number 116 111 and providing 24 hours free of charge work of the service.
Recruited 9 volunteers (psychologists, pedagogies, social workers) to work with the children in the Daily Centre. The Day Care Centre works 5 hours every day.
The First Children’s Embassy in the World Megjashi was visited by Mrs. Emine Erdogan, wife of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Mrs. Borkica Gruevska, wife of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Macedonia Mr. Nikola Gruevski. They attended the creative workshops for children where the children made origami and art work and presented them with some of their handcrafts. Mrs. Gruevska donated TV and DVD equipment for the children who attend the day care centre.
The training course for the representatives from the municipalities was conducted from 25th to 28th of October 2011 in hotel Alpina, Mavrovo, on which participated 13 representatives from 12 municipalities, 2 trainers from the Children’s Embassy Megjashi, and 2 volunteers for technical assistance.
Representatives from the First Children’s Embassy in the World Megjashi, during November, December, and January have conducted presentations/ workshops in 20 municipalities in the Republic of Macedonia (Bitola, Gostivar, Mavrovo and Rostusha, Vrapchishte, Debar, Tetovo, Strumica, Ohrid, Kavadarci, Prilep, Veles, Shtip, Centar, Gjorche Petrov, Chair, Lozovo, Kumanovo, Saraj, Karposh and Chashka), in order on the field to determine the problems and needs of the vulnerable children. In each municipality we have discussed with the representatives of the Local government, as well as with the professional staff as: social workers, pedagogues, psychologists, special educators, education inspector, labour inspector, police officers for juvenile delinquency, directors of the schools etc. Because the target group are vulnerable children in each municipality were discussed the following questions:
- number of not registered children in the municipality
- children who are begging
- number of foster families
- inclusion of the children in the education process
- existing or not existing of classes for the disabled children
- centres for children addicted
- the problems of child labour exploitation
An informal network of cooperation was established with municipal leaders in the range protection of the vulnerable groups of children with opening of mailing list and link to the Facebook page of Children's Embassy Megjashi
269 local community leaders are mobilized to dedicate more attention to the vulnerable groups of children in their communities
To respond to vulnerable children in need of care and protection offering immediate help with psycho-social and legal support
One of the most important mechanisms for support of vulnerable children is the SOS helpline and counselling free legal service. The S.O.S helpline for children and youth functions almost 19 years (since October 1993) and has registered more than 18 250 calls. The S.O.S phone line represents a service for direct help and support of children, youth and their families. With only one call, children may receive help and information, expert advice, psycho-social support or simply talk about the problems they face with. The principle of working of the line is consisted of conversations with the caller about their problems, so that our operators do not immediately give complete solutions of the problem. It is talked about alternatives for solving the problem they have and the caller is helped to find their own solution of it. On the free S.O.S helpline for children and youth, there are professionals that work on: Pedagogue, psychologist, social worker and lawyer. In the activities there are also volunteers involved, who are usually students at the Faculties of Pedagogy, Psychology, Law studies, Social Work. Those people primarily conduct the conversations with callers and are always in coordination and mentorship with the S.O.S helpline coordinator and the other services for direct help in the First Children Embassy in the World Megjashi. In order to provide continuous work of this service the First Children’s Embassy in the World Megjashi has implemented following activities:
Every day 12 hours working of the SOS service by the trained volunteers
During the report period the First Children’s Embassy in the World Megjashi has prepared a semi-annual report (for the period from January to July 2011) and an annual report about the work of the SOS helpline (for the period January - December 2011). Both reports were presented on the press conference conducted in August 2011 (semi-annual) and February 2012 (annual). During 2011 on the SOS helpline are registered 235 reports concerning 477 children. The general conclusions of the annual report are:
- not protected and exposed to violence within the family - 17.61%
- not protected and exposed to violence at the schools - 18.03%
- not protected and left from the institutions to fight alone - 18.03%
- 191 children are exposed on physical, mental and sexual violence, and neglect of children. They are silent and endure violence. It is rarely reported because they are scared. Disappointed and discouraged from those who should take care of them.
- Only 15 children have courage to raise their voice and ask help for protection of their rights.
On the Agenda of the 16th Session of the National Commission of the Rights of the Child conducted on 01st of December 2011 was the information from the First Children’s Embassy in the World Megjashi about the recommendation from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child from Geneva for 24 hours toll-free SOS helpline for children and youth. The Executive Director and Founder of Children’s Embassy Megjashi, Dragi Zmijanac presented the recommendation from the Committee to the National Commission, and emphasized the importance of harmonization of the SOS helpline with the European number 116111, as well as the written support of this initiative from the Child Helpline International. The conclusion of the National Commission according to this issue is: "The National Commission on the Rights of the Child in Republic of Macedonia recommends to the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies in the frame of its possibilities to provide continuous functioning of the SOS toll free helpline for children and youth as a six digit European number 116 111."
Organizing direct and indirect contacts, written remarks to the Institutions for Social Work, Psychology, Pedagogy, and other Post Secondary institutions for the informing the students of volunteer opportunities
- Written remarks with call for volunteers are sent to the Institute of Social Work, Psychology, Pedagogy, and Special Education. The students of those institutes were informed about the possibilities listed in the remarks, and the remarks were announced on the informative boards.
- Recruited 9 volunteers (psychologists, pedagogies, social workers) to work on the SOS helpline.
- On the end of September and the beginning of October 2011 on occasion of the Children’s Week the First Children’s Embassy in the World Megjashi were visited by 320 children from 12 schools. With the children were conducted workshops on which they were acquainted with the work of First Children Embassy in the World Megjashi, and the SOS helpline in particular, and learn more about the child’s rights.
Meetings with already existing SOS phone services for children
- Representatives from First Children’s Embassy in the World Megjashi attend the Regional Conference for Professionals and Volunteers working on the Child Helpline in Montenegro. On the Conference they presented the work and the achieved results of the SOS Helpline and the free legal service. Also they share experiences and ideas with other Helpline providers from Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Slovenia.
- Letter for requesting support is sent to all members of the Child Helpline International to support First Children’s Embassy in the World Megjashi in the process of harmonization the SOS Helpline with the European number 116 111, and providing 24 hours free of charge work of the service. The process is supported by UNICEF and Child Helpline International (CHI).
The representatives from 4 members of CHI have sent a letter of support for the First Children’s Embassy in the World Megjashi. The Child Helpline International has sent letters of support to the President of the RM, the Prime Minister of the Government of the RM, the General Secretary of the Government of the RM, the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies, and the Agency for Electronic Communication to express the support and to emphasize the importance of the harmonization of the SOS helpline with the European number 116 111 and providing 24 hours free of charge work of the service.
- Dragi Zmijanac, the Executive Director and Founder, of the First Children’s Embassy in the World Megjashi attended IV Regional Consultation for Child Helpline in Athens. During the Conference the members of CHI from the region discussed about the actual work of the help lines and the further plans and possibilities for cooperation in order to improve the work and to make the help lines more available for the target groups.
- The First Children’s Embassy in the World Megjashi and South Eastern Europe Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (SEEC), managed by the Greek non governmental organization “The smile of the Child” in the premises of the Children’s Embassy Megjashi had a meeting during which was discussed about the possibilities of implementation of the number 116 000 for a helpline of missing children in the Republic of Macedonia, as well as the possibilities for establishing Macedonian National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children. During the meeting were also shared useful experiences with the representatives from the NGO “Open Gate – La Strada” and was discussed about the possible collaboration.
- On 22nd of November in the premises of the First Children’s Embassy in the World Megjashi was conducted a meeting with the representatives from other NGOs which also provide a helpline service. On the meeting participated the representatives from the NGO “Open Gate - La Strada” and the Association of Social Workers of Skopje. We have exchange experiences for the work of all helpline and discussed about the challenges we face during the work as well as about the possibilities of cooperation among each other.
General view of the objective 1
Despite our efforts to reach children, particularly the vulnerable groups of children and to raise the percentage of calls by children, in 2011 to the SOS helpline addressed only 15 children. After the project activities which included printing and distributing flyers, posters, calendars about the SOS helpline for children and young people across all municipalities in Macedonia, it could be noticed a slight increase in calls from children. From this it can be realized that the next goal will be to reach the marginalized groups of children, which would be desirable to be through a direct contact with them in order to directly inform them about where to refer for violation of their rights and would increase their trust in the SOS helpline.
Some of the calls that were recorded at the SOS helpline for children and young people were for the vulnerable group of children; we have data on 89 children at social risk and calls for 21 children on the street. The greatest percentage are for children who struggle with poverty and are forced by their parents, guardians, or other organized groups to work from their earliest age and provide material funds through collecting plastics, paper and scrap metal, and by begging as well. That is approximately 1/3 of the total no. of call which is a concerning indicator of the state of the vulnerable group of children and their treatment in the society.
Regarding the problem of begging, in 2011 there were calls to the SOS helpline reporting 14 children which is why the SOS helpline for children and youth and the free legal service immediately and separately for every case contacted and asked the relevant institutions like the Center for Social Work and the Ministry of Labor and Social Politics to immediately act in the field and provide the necessary care and protection to this vulnerable group of children. We believe that these activities exceeded the expected results, the SOS helpline had good cooperation with the relevant institutions and they urgently acted on the field; however, the disappointment is that the state hasn’t found a permanent solution for this vulnerable group of children and these activities were only a temporary solution.
General view of the objective 2:
Through working with these children most targets have been achieved; the children socialize, have gained hygienic habits, acquired habits of learning, respect the adults etc. Through the activities, there are improvements in teaching the children about their fundamental rights and responsibility. What was a step forward is that there was a direct contact with these families, their living conditions and through the training in the municipalities we managed to raise the public awareness about the condition of this marginalized group of children.The main current problem is that after the children leave the Daily Centre they are left to the parents who do not pay enough attention and do not educate them. The reason for this is the difficult financial and social situation of those families and absence of a strict monitoring for responsible parenthood by the Centre for Social work. In Macedonia 2 of the day care centers function in the frames of the civil organizations and their existence is in question.
What we should have devoted more attention to is the direct work with parents through meetings that will look for alternative solutions to this difficult situation of these children and families.
Objective 3: To link up with and strengthen local governments in addressing matters concerning vulnerable children in their municipalities and to promote protection and advocacy for children in needs
Children's rights and the rights of the vulnerable group of children are not on the top of the Political parties' and the municipality's agenda
Preparation of the criteria for inclusion of municipalities in the project distribution of call and contact with the Municipalities
In order to strengthen the cooperation among municipalities and centers for social work, schools, NGO’s in their territories, First Children’s Embassy in the World Megjashi has conducted several activities with the municipal leaders in the field of child protection. In the activities have participated 20 municipalities selected by the following criteria.
The criteria include that the municipalities were involved in the project that First Children’s Embassy in the World has already realized such as the International Campaign for Education "Global Action week" aimed for raising awareness of the need for inclusion of all children in mandatory process of education throughout the world, and the project "Building a culture of child participation" through which children participated in the process of monitoring the implementation of their rights and prepared its report on the situation of children in the Republic of Macedonia presented to the Committee of the Rights of the Child in Geneva. Moreover, we believe it is important that the municipalities within their work programs have adopted action plans to protect the rights of children and communities in the future plan to develop and implement local action plans to participate in the project.
According to the criteria 20 municipalities were selected to participate in the three days training course. Each municipality has delegate one representative who will participate in the training course and the following activities.
The implementation of a three-days training course, for 13 people, prior to it will be observed the criteria of joint and gender proportionality
The training course for the representatives from the municipalities was conducted from 25th to 28th of October 2011 in hotel Alpina, Mavrovo, on which participated 13 representatives from 12 municipalities, 2 trainers from the Children’s Embassy Megjashi, and 2 volunteers for technical assistance. Although, 20 municipalities were selected, the representatives from 7 municipalities couldn’t participate on the training because of other priority commitments, nonetheless they were included in the execution of the workshops in the municipalities.
On the beginning of the training the participants were introduced with the children’s rights, the forms of its violation, and the responsibilities of the institutions for its protection. Also, the participants have workshops for the children’s rights, so they could practice different ways of protection, and could share their on experiences about handling different cases. During the training was also discussed about the worst forms of child’s labour and the role of the municipalities in the decreasing the abuse of the child’s labour. On the end, the representatives prepared action plans for conducting a presentation/workshop for the Local government key representatives for children’s issues which will help them to identify and treat the main problems of the vulnerable children in the municipality.
Presentations/workshops with Local governments key representatives for children’s issues, regular meetings with the municipalities
Representatives from the First Children’s Embassy in the World Megjashi, during November, December, and January have conducted presentations/ workshops in 20 municipalities in the Republic of Macedonia (Bitola, Gostivar, Mavrovo and Rostusha, Vrapchishte, Debar, Tetovo, Strumica, Ohrid, Kavadarci, Prilep, Veles, Shtip, Centar, Gjorche Petrov, Chair, Lozovo, Kumanovo, Saraj, Karposh and Chashka), in order on the field to determine the problems and needs of the vulnerable children. In each municipality we have discussed with the representatives of the Local government, as well as with the professional staff as: social workers, pedagogues, psychologists, special educators, education inspector, labour inspector, directors of the schools etc. Because the target group are vulnerable children in each municipality were discussed the following questions:
- number of not registered children in the municipality
- children who are begging
- number of foster families
- inclusion of the children in the education process
- existing or not existing of classes for the disabled children
- centres for children addicted etc.
From each presentation/ workshop is prepared report with detailed explanation of the situation with the vulnerable children in the municipality.
From the analysis of the information gained from the municipalities are derived the following conclusions:
- The problem with not registered children is very serious and causes violation of many other rights of the children. The municipalities should undertake some measures and to increase the collaboration among the institution in order to overcome the problem.
- The problem with the children beggars is present in many municipalities. Even though they are making some efforts to help them it is important to continue with it because they are present on the streets very often.
- The municipalities emphasized the need of existing centres for rehabilitation of children addicted to alcohol and drugs. Some of them have opened such centres, but need support from the State to continue with the work.
- According to the inclusion of the children in the educational system most of the municipalities have agreed about several conditions that are important for increasing the number of children who are going to school. All the school should have a social worker who will be the link among the children, parents, and the institutions. Also the preschool education is essential for the vulnerable groups of children, in order to prevent them of going to streets and start the addicts in the early childhood. Regarding the conditional cash compensation the representatives from the municipalities considered that it should be provided for the students from primary education as well, in order to motivate them to achieve better results. Also the developing of the intensive programs will help the children who miss to start the education process on time to continue with the studying. The work with parents is also important step for increasing the number of the students who are attending schools.
- For the children with disabilities according to the information from the municipalities, it is important if there are classes and Day Care Centres for them, but the categorization of the children should be under a strict monitoring to avoid any kind of abuse of the children. Also the secondary education for the children with disabilities is problem, because it is provided only in Skopje.
- The number of the foster families in Macedonia is very low, and they are rarely interested to take children with disabilities. The foster families need appropriate trainings and education to care for children, especially those with special needs. Also they need a financial support from the State to help them to take care of the children.
- In the procedures for adoption are needed changes which will allow the potential parents to spend more time with the children and to develop stronger emotional relations.
General view of the objective 3
During the training and the workshops in the previously stated municipalities, representatives from the municipalities and the other professionals that attended stressed that this kind of cooperation with the NGO sector is quite useful and welcomed. With some of the municipalities we managed to identify important issues that we might solve together and to be their partners in programs and activities that are aimed at the vulnerable group of children.
During all workshops, notes were recorded about the discussion that was provided and the children's rights that are not respected were addressed, the causes for it, recommendations on how to overcome them and the major problems that municipalities face in their daily work in implementation of their competence in the field of protection of marginalized groups of children. Afterwards, a final report was prepared in which the data obtained was summarized. The report is structured in a way that it does not only identify the violations of the rights of the children, but it also provides recommendations to overcome them.
It is particularly important to address that throughout this cooperation with the municipalities, the First Children’s Embassy in the World - Megjashi also provided monitoring to the rights of children in Macedonia and the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Children and the concluding observations of United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Children that were sent to the Government of Macedonia in June 2010.
The identified condition, the obtained data and recommendations are already listed in the draft version of the Alternative Report for the situation of children’s rights in Macedonia, which is scheduled to be published and presented to the public during March 2012. It is particularly significant that the data that came from the municipalities provide a picture of the situation with the children’s rights at the local level and in different regions of the country.
For this planned purpose it can be concluded that the activities provided had great support from the municipalities
Objective 4: To promote the protection of vulnerable children and their rights for articulating their needs
First Children’s Embassy in the World Megjashi has implemented set of activities aimed to raise awareness for children rights and the existences of support structures for children in need among children, parents, local communities’ leaders, teachers and media.
Creation, design and distribution of the printed materials (posters, leaflets, inserters, t-shirts, calendars, bookmarkers)
During the reporting period First Children’s Embassy in the World Megjashi has designed and created promoting materials for the municipalities. Printed materials (posters, leaflets, calendars and bookmarkers) were distributed to all municipalities in Republic of Macedonia. The Local governments distributed the materials according to the number of primary schools in the municipality.
During the project implementation, FCEWM has constantly developed and executed various activities to promote rights of the vulnerable children. This was conducted through printed materials, media, lobbying and running of the campaign. The main purpose of informing on children’s rights is to increase the public awareness of the citizens about the need of a more efficient protection of vulnerable children and youth in the Republic of Macedonia. Through the media, Children's Embassy Megjashi constantly makes and puts in the forefront of respecting marginalized children's rights. Also we received the interest and support from the citizens and other nongovernmental organizations who were informed about the activities by the media.
1. Municipality Karpos
2. Municipality Stip
3. Municipality Ohrid
4. Municipality Veles
5. Municipality Tetovo
6. Municipality Strumica
7. Municipality Debar
The First Children’s Embassy in the World Megjashi has continuous good cooperation with the most of the media in Macedonia. Usually the media are interested about the situation with the violence of the children’s rights, and the ways that the SOS helpline handle different cases.
A lot of information connected with the children's rights, presentations at the workshops in municipalities are posted at the web site and the facebook of the Children' Embassy Megjashi. More materials can be downloaded from:
· the web-site: www.childrensembassy.org.mk,
· the E-Newsletter "Bushavko"
· YOUTUBE CHANNEL http://www.youtube.com/?user/Megjashi/videos
Report for the UPR recommendations which is prepared by The First Children’s Embassy in the World Megjashi
Put in place a national comprehensive plan for civil status registration
and the right to identity, this includes awareness-raising campaigns for
parents, guardians and other responsible persons, which will help speed
up the registration of child births.
In this report as well, the claim can be confirmed that
in Republic of Macedonia there are children who are not being registered
and are therefore lack of appropriate ID documentation, which
represents an obstacle in releasing rest of the children rights, given
by a legal state system.
The informal number of unregistered children at the registry of
births is approximately 500-2000 children. The largest number of those
are children who belong to the marginalized groups (street children,
children excluded from education etc.)
Namely, the unregistered children do not only lack personal
documentation, but they are also incapable of enrolling at school or
kindergarten, obtaining health insurance right etc. They are
phantom-children left alone and are out of any state records.
Consequently, such children easily become potential victims of
kidnapping, children and organ trafficking or any other form of abusing
The Ministry of labor and social policy conducts a so-called
registry action in order to decrease the number of unrecorded people in
the registry of births. In order to achieve better coordination and
better conduction of the action itself, an inter-ministerial working
group was formed, which included representatives of the Ministry of
Labor and Social Policy, Ministry of Internal Affairs, The Directorate
for running registry of births, Social Work Centers, Roma Informative
centers, and representatives of Roma NGOs who did a field work and co
stated the actual situation. In the very beginning of the action, the
main focus was on the Roma population, due to the fact that the largest
number of unrecorded citizens are the Roma people. According to the
announcements of the Ministry, in the following period representatives
of other ethnical communities will be included in the action.
Greater inter-institutional cooperation is being recommended in order
to overcome such problems, as well as the inclusion of civic
organizations that have a direct approach to these people, especially to
2. Continue to pay special attention to access to education for
all children regardless of their ethnic origin and at all education
levels, preschool, primary and secondary and continue its efforts to
guarantee free education at the primary level for all children, giving
special attention to minority groups.
In Republic of Macedonia, apart from the obligatory elementary
education, since 2008 there is also a free and obligatory secondary
education. Apart from this legal procedure, there are still children who
are excluded from the education system for a variety of reasons; the
number of the children that don’t attend school is unknown because the
state only keeps records of the ones who attend elementary school but
not the ones that don’t attend school at all. Although school exclusion
is a risky factor for children in terms of labor abuse, children are
also potentially submitted to deviant behavior. Increasing the awareness
of the need for education enrolment of all children is necessary.
The number of Roma children who do not attend school is
still low, while the rate of those leaving school still remains high.
The segregation of Roma students is still in practice. According to the
2011 report of the European Commission regarding the progress in the
Republic of Macedonian, the Roma children continue to enroll in classes
for children with special educational needs. Approximately, half of the
children included in those classes are the Roma children, even though
they only represent 2.6% of the total population. According to the
2011 publication - “The education right of Roma children”, from 63%
of the Roma children who enrolled in elementary education, only 45% of
them complete this education. Regarding the education enrolment of the
Roma children, it can be stated that there is a sufficient progress but
there are still problems and issues that require a lot of work.
It is recommended that each school employs a social worker
that would keep a separate record for each enrolled student. That would
help in monitoring the situation of all enrolled students and the
social worker would be able to react on time if some of the student(s)
do not regularly attend classes. In addition, the social worker will be
able to constantly and efficiently follow each student and would be able
to provide necessary documentation about a particular child to a Social
Work centre whenever it’s necessary, as a result of a mutual
Another recommendation is that pre-school education should
be mandatory, in order to create a habit of going to school and
attending, while they are still young. That would additionally decrease
the number of children living on the streets, especially those who beg,
use alcohol or drugs etc. The pre-school education needs to be free of
charge for those families who are in a difficult financial state. It is
necessary that some law changes are implemented in order to enable
children who even though missed the enrollment deadlines still have the
opportunity to enroll in school instead of waiting until the age of 14
to start attending night school. Parental cooperation is a must, because
they can contribute and they are the ones that should take care of them
and assure in terms of maintaining a school-attendance habit, instead
of using them for seasonal work as a labor force. The informal statistic
which is still not confirmed officially states that 5 to 6% of the
total children in the primary school age are not enrolled in the primary
3. Consider the possibility to conduct a mid-term evaluation of the Action Plan on the rights of the child.
The National Action plan for children in Republic of Macedonia
(2011-2015) is still in procedure and is a replacement for the National
Children Rights action (2006-2015) adopted by the Government of Republic
of Macedonia (March, 2006). This refined plan of action follows the
previous plan concerning recommendations and final reviews of the
Committee on Children Rights of UN directed to the Government of
Republic of Macedonia in June, 2010.
The National Commission on the rights of the children in Macedonia
monitored and determined the National Action Plan for children
(2011-2015) and that puts the situation on opinion waiting list from
competent institutions. With adding of the changes, this opinion making
list will be in a written form presence. The plan would be given on
review to the Government following by an adoption afterwards. The
Commission is consisted from ministry representatives, state
institutions, Ombudsman and representatives from two civic organizations
which also participated in the NAP. The membership of the Commission
was extended and now the total number of civic organizations in the
commission is four.
4. Conduct a comprehensive review of internal law conformity with
the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The Ministry of Justice of Macedonia with technical support by UNICEF
conducted an analysis of national legislation in terms of degree of
reconciling Convention on the Rights of the Child in the legal
In Republic of Macedonia, ratified international conventions become a
part of Macedonian legislation in accordance with Macedonian
constitution. This means that in a case of legal gap in the national
legislation, a standard norm of international law can be applied. Even
in a particular situation of legal norm collision (domestic-national
norm), a priority is given to the international provision.
Even though the international documentation has a priority above
national laws, the national organs in very few cases directly apply the
international regulation in practice. It is being expected that
trainings done by the Academy of judges and public prosecutors in the
Republic of Macedonia should contribute to frequent application of The
Convention for Children’s Rights and other international instruments
concerning children’s rights.
It can be stated that there is a mild progress in terms of
reconciling the legislation regulation, but it is necessary to work more
at this issue.
5. Increase the level of protection of minors, particularly those
who find themselves in a situation of lack of protection and outside of
the compulsory schooling system and adopt provisions to address the
phenomenon of school dropouts particularly among Roma children and
children living in rural areas, especially female children.
The country made certain efforts in order to assure that the children
will attend school on regular basis. Additional changes have been made
in the Law for primary education which states that the parents or the
guardians will be referred to counselling with psychologist or a
counsellor if the student has more than 10 unjustified or 100 excused
absences. It is expected that this will provide certain results because
it will be implemented at the beginning of the process in order to
resolve the situation and prevent going out of control.
At the end of 2011, The First Children’s Embassy in the World -
Megjashi visited 20 municipalities in the Republic of Macedonia and
directly met representatives from the municipalities, employees from
schools, members from the centres for social work, police
representatives from the municipalities’ area. They addresses that the
municipalities’ educational inspectors follow the situation including
the work of the children involved in the regular educational system and
if they state that some child is not enrolled in school or its
parents/guardians use him/her for work in order to acquire resources for
the family and that is the reason for not attending school, they file
criminal charges in the competent court. They also emphasized that the
judges often reject those charges because the parents/guardians against
whom the charges are submitted are not financially able to pay the
penalty. Also was pointed as well, welfare is given to people even
though it is not regularly monitored if the children in the family are
enrolled in the educational system on a regular basis. However, for
those parents that take welfare, it was suggested that the welfare
should be provided if the children regularly attend school, otherwise
the welfare will be taken from them. This will preventively protect the
children from the worst forms of abuse and increase their involvement in
schools as one of their fundamental rights.
6. Focus on more resources on ethnic reconciliation in the
education of school-aged children to foster tolerance and appreciation
for diversity in the next generation.
The First Children’s Embassy in the World-Megjashi conducted a
research which included providing surveys with over 2234 students,
children aged 10-18 from 41 elementary schools in 7 cities and 24
secondary schools in 6 cities in Macedonia (June, 2009).
The general conclusion of the research states that violence is
present in enormously high percentage everywhere. (Within the families,
in schools, on the street, between peers etc.) The violence is present
at elementary and secondary schools.
To the question: Are you witnessing violence in your school?
56% of the children confirmed, while 14% confirmed such occurrence as on everyday basis.
According to the research, the violence is 6% more frequent in
secondary schools than in elementary schools. The violence occurs not
only in the student-student relation, but also in the student-teacher
relation as well. 57 of the participating students know children that
have been hit by a teacher and 35% said that they know students who had
violent approach to a teacher.
The data from the S.O.S children’s help line of Megjashi claims a
rapid growth of children violence. In addition, the number of calls
regarding abuse and violence of children is in growth.
The education system in Macedonia can adopt topics concerning:
non-violent communication, constructive conflict management, stereotype
and prejudice. The peace education should become a part of the school
curricula, as well as teaching about violence as an occurrence and the
possibility of its transformation in a constructive and non-violent way.
The pedagogical staff needs to be trained for non-violent elaboration
of conflicts and the education should be applicable to all children,
teachers at all education level, starting in kindergartens.
Prepared by: The First Children's Embassy in the World Megjashi - Republic of Macedonia
 The National Action plan for children in Republic of Macedonia (2011-2015)
 Ministry of Justice of Republic of Macedonia (May 2010):
Comparative view of Macedonian legislation and Children’s rights
convention; http://www.unicef.org/tfyrmacedonia/English_Full_Report_13_WEB.pdf http://www.unicef.org/tfyrmacedonia/macedonian
 Law for primary education (Official Gazette of the Republic of Macedonia No.103/2008, 33/10, 116/10,
156/10, 18/11, 51/11)