When the Unreal Becomes Real
This story was submitted to the Ashoka 30th Birthday Card by Ladislav Briestensky, an Ashoka Fellow from Slovakia since 1998.
The first time I heard about Ashoka in 1998, it sounded to me like fantasy. I liked very much the introductory discussions with Ashoka coordinators, long, deep, going to details... These discussions raised my confidence in Ashoka principles and their viability.
At that time my country (Slovakia) was searching its way towards democracy. My ambition was to make democracy stronger on the local level by educating people in local self-government principles and practices, by opening up municipalities to their citizens, by collecting and publishing information about best progressive practices, and by building the co-operation among active citizens and their local self-government. Slovak local communities were very weak at that time, they had no money for education and they had to fight to survive. Thanks to support from Ashoka, I could fill their needs for free, which was an extraordinary bit of support for them.
Today, my country is grown-up and local communities are stronger. The services that had to be provided for free before can be paid for now. In fact, the same activities which could be done only with Ashoka support before, I can offer as my business now and – it is necessary to say - I am able to do it at very friendly prices, affordable even by the smallest municipalities. I would like to express my thanks for the support from Ashoka in the crucial moment. I do not know a better fulfillment than to serve the public interest. I consider it the best mission in life. I am very proud to be a member of this great Ashoka family.
Happy Birthday, Ashoka!
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