Strom Zivota - Tree of Life
Bratislava, 1 February 1996
- Prazska 11
- 816 36 Bratislava
- Phone: 42 7 498 703
- Fax: 42 7 498 473
The person and his function in the NGO
- Mr. Rudolf Domaniza - Secretary
The NGO itself
Strom Zivota began its activities under the Socialist Union of
Youth (SUY), by that time the only youth organization in Czechoslovakia,
and oversaw several youth activities. In 1983 there was a qualitative
change in the activities of Strom Zivota, connected with the establishment
of the first summer camps. Until 1989 the activities were led
by the Methodical Council of Camps of Strom Zivota'. The summer
camps over time specialized on environmental education for young
people. Summer camps are one of the biggest social activities
in Strom Zivota. Strom Zivota was registered as a NGO in February
1990. Since that moment the organization develops its activities
independently of the government and other political subjects.
Strom Zivota has 14 Clubs, which form the basic parts throughout
Slovakia. These Clubs lead 380 local groups which are linked on
behalf of several bigger projects like 'Blue from sky', Monitoring
of the Atmosphere' or 'Living Water'. Further 6 ecocenters and
3 working places are part of the Strom Zivota organization. The
central working place is the main office of Strom Zivota in Bratislava.
The organization, on the national level, creates a 9 member Council
of Strom Zivota which is elected by a general assembly every three
Objective(s) / Goal(s)
Strom Zivota's main goal is to increase public's interest in healthy
life in a healthy environment, both on natural and social level
by giving environmental education and organizing after-school
and holiday activities.
Main areas of activity of the Bambicenter
The main activity of Strom Zivota is environmental education,
which is realized on two levels. One are the free time activities
during the summer camps of Strom Zivota, which are realized by
the voluntary activists of Strom Zivota. The second are the activities
of the ecocentres of Strom Zivota which have their own specific
areas of activity. For example coordinating of bigger projects
and daily environmental education in the surrounding areas of
- About 350 volunteers, members of the camp's councils or other
commissions of Strom Zivota, are involved in organizing the Strom
Zivota summercamps. Three employees are working in the head office
in Bratislava, whereas most leaders of the environmental education
centers are paid by their own funds. In some branches civil servants
are serving. One peace corps volunteer is running Strom Zivota's
waste separation program. The approximate amount of members is
- The budget for 1995 was about 200,000 USD. Approximately 40% of
this budget is coming from the Slovakian government. Very little
money is received from businesses, other NGOs and membership fees.
Funding organizations like REC and Partnership funded some of
Strom Zivota's projects.
- Spoken languages in the head office are Slovak, Czech, Polish,
Slovenian, Russian, Hungarian, English and German. The expertise
on environmental issues is considered medium, but in the individual
environmental education centers higher. On both organizational
and strategical level the expertise is high.
- Access to information
- Phone, fax and computer(s) with e-mail connection are available.
Contacts with national policy makers, press and universities are
good enough to receive necessary information. Strom Zivota's chair
man is member of the Environmental Education Council which is
an advisory institution to the Ministry of Environment.
External Relations and intensity of the contact
All relations of Strom Zivota are based on cooperation, with a
low to medium intensity for the Ministry of Environment, environmental
businesses and national NGOs. The contacts with foreign NGOs are
more intensive. Cooperation with western NGOs exist for example
with the WWF in Switzerland, the global network of environmental
education centers, the German Naturschutz Jugendbund, the Fieldstudies
Council in the UK, the Society of Nature Conservation in Norway,
the Dutch Milieukontakt Oost-Europa, and the Israelian Society
for Protection of Nature. East-East cooperation is focused on
Ukraine and Belarussia.
Until 1992/1993 common board meetings of Strom Zivota and policy
making were done with the Czech partner organization Brontosaurus.
Now the East-East cooperation activities of Strom Zivota are more
focused on towards the eastern neighbors.
Advantages / Motivation
The main motivation for cooperative projects with Ukraine was
to pass experience and give information to them, in order to help
to develop Ukrainian environmental education programs. Together
with giving training to Ukrainian potential experts on environmental
education Strom Zivota could spread the own organization and education
methods. The ideas and methods of Strom Zivota are experiences
from the west mixed with own practical experiences obtained during
educational trips in western countries. Ukrainian and Belarussian
NGOs asked for cooperation and Strom Zivota saw a possibility
to bring environmental and social values to the Ukrainian youth.
An additional reason for Strom Zivota to start this cooperation
was the ability to get bigger grants with cooperative projects
and to be able to grow as an organization.
Problems / Obstacles
An obstacle is the amount of money needed to travel, to arrange
training and to keep people trained in the partner countries.
Practical problems with Ukraine are the difficulties with border
crossing and the fact that according to the current law a big
amount of the appointed money is taxed by the Ukrainian State.
Cultural differences can be a problem, but Strom Zivota takes
this into account within the environmental education training,
since psychological and communication skills are taught as well
to overcome this possible problems. Language problems are not
that big, since most Ukrainians understand and/or speak Slovak.
A problem for extending cooperation to other countries, for example
Romania, will be very hard, since stereotypes on Romanians are
mentioned, besides the language problems that will occur within
that imaginary cooperation.
Surplus Value / Results of East-East cooperation
The result of East-East cooperation with Ukrainian NGOs is that
they are helped a lot to develop the personal and organizational
skills. Information and expertise is really going there and it
is for sure needed in both Belarussia and Ukraine. For the future
a common project is planned with the help of the graduates of
the previous training for the Ukrainian partner organization.
Necessary features of a NGO for East-East cooperation
NGOs need to have a partner and to have a reason for East-East
cooperation. Especially personal contact is important, together
with having a common topic or common interests. To facilitate
the contact a common language is necessary. Further there have
to be needs in the new country that can be met in the other country..
Money is not only needed to establish the East-East cooperation
but also to continue it.
Possible reasons for others not to start East-East cooperation
They will not have discovered a common topic with potential partners,
or the money is missing.
Future of East-East cooperative behavior of the NGO
Strom Zivota will go on with improving the cooperation with Belarussian
and Ukrainian NGOs. A common project with graduates of the previous
training is planned, only the funds have to be found. It is not
very likely that Strom Zivota will speculate about looking for
potential other partners in other countries.
REC and East-East cooperation
Strom Zivota applied and received an Earmarked Grant, so REC and
REC procedures are wellknown. REC has the task to help to build
a civil society in CEE, this means also in Ukraine for example.
It is dangerous when moral and cultural differences between Slovakia
and Ukraine stays like they are, because both countries should
come closer to each other in social development and together more
close to European societies. NGOs, also environmental NGOs, have
to be supported to cooperate in order to show that human relations
and cooperation can be good. REC can help the NGO movement in
CEE by simplifying their procedures and funding whole projects
instead of just parts. A NGO has to report to more than one funding
organization when they want to do a big cooperative project, and
this is time and money consuming. Finally the money transfer procedure
with Ukraine has to be improved, but REC is not the right institution
to deal with this problem.
REC * PUBLICATIONS * BEYOND BORDERS - SIDE REPORT * SLOVAKIA