It was a cold and grey winter day, but there was warmth in many hearts and cause for celebration on that Monday 11th of December 2017 in Vinica. In the presence of children and their parents, as well as municipal authorities, Ambassador Sybille Suter inaugurated the municipality’s renovated and extended kindergarten. The works were conducted after citizens of Vinica defined the modernization of the kindergarten as a priority for their community through the Swiss-supported Community Forums programme.
During the ceremony, the Swiss Ambassador said that while the modernized kindergarten addresses an important need of the local community, it is equally important because it represents a proof that “when they get a chance, citizens can be of great support to the authorities in identifying and solving issues of common concern.” The mayor of Vinica, Ivica Dimitrov, stressed that the renovation and extension of the kindergarten had been prioritized by the citizens through the newly introduced Community Forum process, which makes it even more important and relevant for the community.
The extended facility will be able to welcome 140 children against only 90 previously. Works also included new roofing and energy efficiency measures which will make the kindergarten more comfortable for the children. The Swiss contribution of around CHF 30’000 was matched with an equal amount from the municipality of Vinica while the kindergarten contributed around CHF 40’000 from its own budget. As the renovation of the kindergarten was on its way, the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy pledged around CHF 20’000 for furniture, toys and other equipment.
The Swiss Community Forums programme started in Macedonia in 2006. Eleven years later, the inauguration of the kindergarten marks the last activity of the programme. The programme has fostered citizen participation in decision making at local level; 59 of the 81 municipalities in the country introduced community forums as a regular way of setting the municipal priorities. Renovation and building of schools, roads, squares, but also support centres for vulnerable groups were selected as priorities by citizens throughout Macedonia, and jointly financed by Switzerland and the municipalities that participated in the project.