Philanthropy, Sustainability and Ecotourism in Montenegro

Situated in the hills of Montenegro lays a little village named Pod Ostrog. While the village has only 200 residents, there are one million tourists annually visiting due to the Serbian Orthodox Monastery Ostrog. The monastery is visited (by people of all faiths) so that they can pray for their wellbeing and health.

Over the years, a lot of miracles have happened in Monastery Ostrog, however, typically tourists only stay for a few hours and go on to other areas of Montenegro because there is a lack of activities that would enable a longer vacation stay.

Thirty years ago, locals from the village, Pod Ostrog, and nearby villages (Povija, Bare Sumanovica, Bare Sobajica) worked in fields where the labors produced vegetables, fruits, jams, and handled cattle. There was a true value for their work, their families, their villages, and their land – healthy and beneficial value for all. Their products were respected in the nearby towns as judged by how quickly they were sold in the markets.

Student at Camp Pod Ostrog

But, time marched on and changes occurred. Supermarkets started to pop up, the trains stopped running on the railroad, and it was as though everything started slowly going to sleep. Everything except the biggest businesses. Instead, they had a sense of costs and investments and customer needs and began opening upscale restaurants.

Monastery at Pod Osgrod

Meanwhile, down the hill from these upscale restaurants, our sleepy villages spent time dreaming and wondering. The people dreamt about stronger communities that helped each other and worked together – all striving toward the same goals. Or, perhaps this was all a memory from long ago when elders would captivate children with their stories?

…Today, memories and dreams are coming together in a form of concrete actions – actions inspired by permaculture, grassroots efforts, technology, scout ideology, and a love for nature.

For example, during this past summer, Pod Ostrog expanded their efforts to hold two eco-focused camps for young children and teens. The objective was to bring attention to the issues and challenges faced by the area ecosystems and its small communities and communicate to sustainable solutions, which are yielding results.

Students in front of Monastery Pod Ostrog

Through the power of modern technologies, these lessons learned are being shared and improved upon, and locals are delighted with the results. They even helped to supply local food to the camp so efforts can continue.

Driven by the passion and potential of this community, I, as the founder of Camp Pod Ostrog, wrote a green business project proposal to provide for a Fund for Active Citizenship. The proposal won first place in Montenegro as well as Best Green Business idea for all of the Balkans!

With the idea to revive the village, help the community through donations of green technologies, help locals to more easily sell their products and to preserve the old manufacturing skills, our team won USD $10,000 to make a dream come true. Idea Camp Pod Ostrog was a best green business idea on Philanthropy for Green Ideas.

During the last few months, I have created more detailed plans for additional investment, continued researching old and sometimes forgotten technologies, conducted outreach to local and national tourism organizations, started preparations for the 2018 season and just completed an Indiegogo campaign to bring additional awareness and spur development.

The campaign funding will be used to:

  • Install hydraulic ramp pumps and solar panels
  • Build cabins, an outdoor kitchen, and fire pits, and
  • Hold a minimum of 7 education camps for children and teens in order to show models of green, sustainable, and community-based work that could be replicated in other communities.

Through the transfer of knowledge to locals, Camp Pod Ostrog is going to try to establish a village cooperative of food producers so that collectively they can have various product/service offerings to those many tourists and at the market.

Camp Pod Ostrog is also going to open its doors to the WWOOF Montenegro community where backpackers, tourists, and all nature lovers can contribute as well as expand their knowledge and resources toward helping villages become stronger communities.

If you want to help, please consider funding our Indiegogo campaign and you are always welcome to come and visit Camp Pod Ostrog and be a part of a great story.

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