Barka Foundation for Mutual Help
Barka Foundation for Mutual Help was established as a response to increasing social problems during transformation years. Barbara and Tomasz Sadowski wanted to create conditions in which the “forgotten and unwanted” could have a chance for personal growth and social development.
This mission influenced the creation of an alternative system of support, which gathers people from the weakest groups, giving them possibilities to rebuild their lives, upgrade vocational skills and find their way in the new socioeconomic reality. In 1989, these two psychologists set up the first Barka community, using the derelict school building in Wladyslawowo (in the West of Poznan). This first community gave a home for 25 “life wrecked”” individuals, who were living together with the Sadowski’s family. Wladyslawowo became the spring-board for the continuing mutual-help movement, engaging not only the people in need but also informal groups and non-governmental organizations in Poland and abroad.
Barka Foundation is a non-governmental organization. Its mission is to offer support for social development of excluded groups, build conditions to enable them to rebuild their lives by creating a system of mutual help, education and entrepreneurship, in line with a citizens’ society.
The objective is to create a system of support for the process of integration of excluded groups. This system includes about 5000 persons annually (gathering persons in life crises, informal groups of citizens,non-governmental organizations, representatives of the government at national and local levels).
The main task is to create a program for the development of this system in Poland,in other countries in transformation and in developing countries.
The development of the program consists on creation of Schools of Social Animation (SAS – Szkoly Animacji Socjalnej), based on experiences and knowledge of people who overcame extreme poverty and serious life difficulties, and today are able to transfer the knowledge on the mechanisms of creation and development of programs of fight against social exclusion to groups from diverse regions of Poland and Europe, in a professional way. SAS educates in the self-help system future animators of centers and programs. The new Law on Social Employment and the project of Law on Social Cooperatives enable to give legal and financial support for the development of these programs in Poland.
The social- educational programme combines social work with education. It was created as a result of the increasing need for supplementing the education and raising professional qualifications of excluded people The objective is to enable them to become independent and integrate with the society. The programme is carried out in the countryside and in the city as well. Each year a few hundreds of people take part in various forms of educational training in four of our schools (Barka scools).
They are self-sufficient farms that are based on multigenerational families, the idea of mutual help, cooperation with neighbors and local communities. The main principles of them are: family life based on mutual aid within groups combined of 25-30 people, refurbishment and preparing old, ruined premises so that they are suitable for life and work. People deal with farming, agriculture and services, they solidarily help others also to resist the temptations of alcohol. Today there exist about 30 Barka communities’houses where 750 people in need work and live. New places are being created all the time.
In the face of increasing unemployment rate (at the end of October 2002 there were 3 108 141 registered people ) the programme of gaining over and creating new workplaces for unemployed people was established. That is why the development of social employment is very crucial. Barka creates new workplaces on the “second-hand” market – shops, workshops, farms. A new legislation about social employment (January 2004) is currently being introduced and determines a new quality in the organization of civil society because it places public institutions and non-government organizations on the same level in terms of creating new form of employment. In 2004 Barka plans to open 16-20 Social Integration Centers. In next years the legislation may concern 0,5 to 3 million people that are deprived of menas of survival.