Impact is our password

Some three years ago the Briezuciems primary school was among those small rural schools in Latvia who faced a real closure threat as a result of the small number of pupils. While several schools were liquidated indeed, the kids from Briezuciems and the vicinity still study in their local school, but the teachers have gone as far as real participation in legal initiatives. Why was it possible? Thanks to the local self-starters. Silvija Locmele is among them.

The teacher of mathematics, social sciences, technologies and housekeeping, Silvija is also a tenacious grassroots activist and the local driving force. First she initiated the participation of the Briezuciems school in the SFL initiative “Change opportunities for schools” and started transferring the tiny educational establishment into a real culture, educational and social centre of the community. Several other activities followed, and the school is still there!

As part of the Grassroots project the Briezuciems people acted as hosts this July, when their colleagues from Vipe came for an experience-changing visit. "We showed them our school as the local resource centre and informed them about the projects implemented by the "Saulessvece" NGO. As soon as brisk interest was provoked among the visitors, they were taken to one of the real scenes of action – to our weaving studio," Silvija recalls. She is especially proud of the possibility to show the Project in action, taking into account the Latvian saying that work makes the doer better. "Our guests became so interested that they took their seats behind the frame and started weaving themselves. Now we have a new idea – we are going to make a blanket where people from different parts of Latvia who come to visit us add their unique local ornaments. This blanket will be a symbolic proof of friendship that cannot be cut off by any district borders,"- Silvija Locmele explains. We would like to add that the blanket symbolizes also the sustainability of the actions performed by the Briezuciems grassroots.

After closer networking together with the people from Vipe, the Briezuciems NGO in the person of Silvija Locmele sustained the impact of the grassroots initiatives and being elected the representative of the local NGOs took active part in the development of the Balvi district sustainable development strategy for the next 30 years. After participation at the first public discussion of the plan, Mrs. Locmele achieved that the grassroots suggestions were taken into account. "Our ideas were included into the official 0 edition of the strategy! Word for word, the document now reads: "Evolution of rural schools into service centres of the community.""

Silvija is extremely proud of the results already achieved, but she is well aware that the strategy is still under construction. "I sent them a comment that the wording should read like this: "Development of rural schools as multifunctional resource centres in close cooperation with local people and the municipality."☺" Let us wish Silvija success in her aspirations to bring together all the stakeholders in order to inspire them for joint work! As to representatives of other grassroots groups from all over the world, Silvija could teach them how to interweave the threads and possibilities of different projects and initiatives into a joint blanket of creative, fruitful and prosperous life in the Centre of the world – the domicile of any single person.

 

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