Today in our rubric “their experience” is the story about the Macedonian project HOPS – Healthy Options Project Skopje https://hops.org.mk/. This organization has been working in the field of assistance for addicts for more than 20 years. How it all began, what are the needs of vulnerable groups today, how to avoid professional burnout about this and not only in our story from Macedonia.

*Macedonian shooting— a way, a method of conducting a fight with fire-arms, most often with pistols. Assumes the fight with two hands. Such a method provides duplication of firepower of the shot.

HOPS is not only condoms and needles, it is also a social work, doctors and changing of articles in laws.

HOPS – Healthy Options Project Skopje

Reaction to Challenges

Healthy Options Project Skopje is the public organization. The reason for creating HOPS was the heroin epidemic of 90s in Macedonia. The work started in 1997 from needle exchange in Skopje. Starting 2004 the work on HIV/AIDS is being held. «Now it is 16 programs (3 of them in the capital) in 13 cities of Republic» – Hristijan Jankuloski (Executive Director) says.

In 2017 The Global Fund to Fight against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria stopped financing HIV/AIDS programs in Macedonia. However these programs work till now. But now they are financed by government. HOPS has good connection with institutions and organizations such as Ministry of Health, Ministry of Labor and Social Policy, City of Skopje.

The budget of organization consists of two parts. One is covered by borrowed funds from abroad, the other lies on state departments. It should be marked that all services for users are free of charge.

Now it is 16 programs (3 of them in the capital) in 13 cities of Republic

Who They Are

Address: Hristo Smirnenski 48 / 1-6, 1000 Skopje, Republic of Macedonia

«HOPS is not only condoms and needles, it is also a social work, doctors and changing of articles in laws. The work of HOPS is based on needs. Most of inquiries is now connected with advocacy»*.

*Advocacy is a term from practice of non-state organizations. It means campaign aimed at presenting and protection of rights and interests of certain social group.

Bag and T-shirt of own design

Focus of HOPS on programs for harm reduction* but not prevention. In spite of this there is a day center for work with addicted people. Besides working with psychologist and psychiatrist creative workshops are being held. Some of the results of their work is being sold, for example, T-shirts with their design. They also perform destigmatization* campaigns. Also the mottos and slogans are created by people with dependencies but not the advertising professionals.

* harm reduction — an approach aimed at keeping health of each member of human society, aimed not at prohibition of behavior harmful for health but at reduction of harmful consequences and changing behavior to more secure.

*destigmatization is a recovery by members of stigmatized groups of their civil rights lost in connection with self-stigmatization and external stigmatization.

*stigmatization – the act of treating someone or something unfairly by publicly disapproving of them

Aims and Plans

Organization’s vision

Vision of HOPS: A society where human rights and freedoms of all people are equally respected and they enjoy social, health and economic wellbeing.

During the past 20 years of activity huge changes to drug politics of country occurred. «This is good for society, not only for people with addictions». We need collaborations*. The responsibility should be divided.

*collaboration is the process of two or more people or organizations working together to complete a task or achieve a goal. Collaboration is similar to cooperation.

There are only two political issues as according to Vlatko Dekov:

  • Invite and include users of drugs into programs
  • Partnership with organizations but not fighting with each other

This is the shortest way to our main goal.

Peculiarities of Activity

The organization staff includes: psychiatrist, lawyer, teacher, psychotherapist, doctor, social workers, etc. All personnel include 45 persons.  

Some of them work here from the scratch. Vlatko says that during the work here he changed several titles. This is a good way to avoid burnout when once in several years you change your role inside the organization. 3 years with one title, then changing the role.

Books published with the participation of HOPS

HOPS is also engaged in publishing activities – mainly publishing specialized literature. In addition, the organization issues a magazine «Drugs – Politics and Practice». This is a magazine on drug politics and practice, about use of drugs and related questions.

We would like to thank Hristijan and Vlatko, for help in preparing this material

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