– In times like these, meeting people from other countries is more important than ever. Peacebuilding, cross-border fellowships, strengthening democratic movement – there is so much to gain from these kinds of cooperations, says Hilde Mjøs of Arendal Voksenopplæring.

From 27 to 30 September, they were finally able to get together in Arendal, and visit both NGOs and public institutions. The organisation OWOP, which is a support centre for NGOSs, is located just on the border of Belarus. They strongly feel the the on-going tensions in Europe, with war in their on their doorstep.

It is not the first time these entities cooperate. The first project dates back to 2018. This particular project, ‘My street, my estate, my town’, is all about building strong local communities.

Of course, there have been a lot of Zoom calls, but this was the first time they could meet face-to-face. – It was so nice to meet our Polish collaborators. I am proud of what we achieved here in Arendal, but we also need impulses and inspiration from the outside, says Hilde.

The delegation met with the Mayor of Arendal and the principal of Arendal Voksenopplæring. They also got to do some sightseeing in Arendal, one of the more bucolic towns of southern Norway.

– I am sure there will be more cooperation with OWOP in the future, and more actors that can be involved locally, concludes Hilde.

Katarszyna from OWOP tells us that they come from the city of Bialystok, close to the border of Belarus. – We are a centre which supports voluntary organisations and we have been doing so for more than 22 years. It is so interesting to see all the organisations in Arendal that here to help out different groups. There is also a remarkably short way from the municipality directors and politicians to ordinary people.