Our response to the COVID19 pandemic
While the Open Society Foundations and our founder George Soros announced that they would donate 130 million dollars to combat the adverse affects of the coronavirus across the globe in mid-April, on a local level the Kosovo Foundation for Open Society (KFOS) has taken immediate measures to mitigate the negative impact of the pandemic in Kosovo since late March.
Making it possible to re-channel its core budget funds, KFOS initiated a series of emergency grants to support civil society organizations responding to new needs arising from the pandemic. Despite its mostly advocacy-oriented mission, and confronting an unprecedented crisis endangering Kosovar society, KFOS decided to expand its mission in order to offer direct relief funds for the most vulnerable and marginalized communities. Moreover, as part of its engagement during the pandemic, KFOS will continue to support civil society organizartions to advocate for and implement projects in education, public health, economy and media sectors.
Some of the specific initiatives supported by KFOS:
As part of this initiative, KFOS in cooperation with Balkan Sunflowers Kosova, Nevo Koncepti, Bethani Chtistian Service, Roma and Ashkalia Documentation Center, and Romtegra, begun a project to support Roma, Ashkali, and Egyptian communities. This project includes direct aid in form of food and hygiene aid packages for community members, but also support for children to participate in the e-learning process, as well as support for community-based organizations and media. More information on the initiative can be found here.
Another initiative that is currently being implemented in collaboration with the Council for the Defense for Human Rights and Freedoms (KMDLNj) is direct humanitarian aid for prisoners and their families. 185 families of prisoners, whose financial circumstances are vulnerable and particularly affected by the crisis, will be aided with financial relief for 3 months by joint funds from OSF and KFOS.
Another direct aid initiative worth noting is the emergency grant for protective equipment for field journalists and media workers, which was implemented by the Association of Journalists of Kosovo (AGK) in April. Over 300 journalists, camera operators and photo-reporters were equipped with protective packages which makes their work in the field easier.
In the meantime, with the support of KFOS, the Kosovo Education Center (KEC) in cooperation with SOS Children Villages and Kohavision launched on May 1 the educational show “Afer jush” (Close to you). This show addresses the needs and concerns of parents and their little ones during the pandemic, offering concrete advice to parents stuck at home with children and off providing them with educational and recreational activities that help children’s development. More information on this project can be found here.
In April, KFOS also began an initiative with 12 Kosovo Serb civil society organizations and media to publish a series of opeds from internationally established authors and experts, all of which address current political affairs in the country. This series of articles will be published by RTV Kim, one of the most read websites in the Serbian language in Kosovo, followed by republication in websites Crno Beli Svet, KoSSev and Gracanica online. More information on this initiative can be found here.