On September 2, 1993 a group of local Roma established The Humanitarian and Charitable Association of Roma (HCRA) Mesecina. The organization was the first of its kind in Gostivar, and among the first NGOs in modern day Macedonia.
Due to widespread instability in the Balkan region, HCRA Mesecina originally functioned as a main line of contact between international donors and refugees on the ground.
In 1993 the Bosnian crisis had entered its second year and the violence had escalated. The influx of refugees entering Macedonia put strain on local social services, and indirectly led to casualties among the Roma community, which was at high risk before the conflict erupted. HCRA Mesecina responded to this dangerous ripple effect by providing urgent material assistance such as, hygiene products, clothing, and food, to both local Roma and refugees.
This experience in humanitarian aid distribution proved to be useful once again in 1998, during the Kosovo War. Refugees fled from the extreme violence and found relief just 2 hours south in the city of Gostivar. HCRA Mesecina used its expertise in crisis response to help organize local and national efforts. The organization also established branches in the Western Macedonian cities of Tetovo, Debar, and Kichevo in order to respond to the crisis.
Over the course of the following decade, the founders of HCRA Mesecina realized that the organization had developed the potential to address issues beyond immediate humanitarian aid. Though conflict in the region had stabilized, the Roma community continued to struggle for basic materials and services.
In 2007 HCRA Mesecina officially transitioned away from humanitarian aid to focus on long-term development. By advocating for better policies on both the local and national level, the organization would ensure lasting improvement in the lives of Roma living in Macedonia.
HCRA Mesecina’s strategy for long-term development divides the organizations work into 4 main sectors – Education, Policy Awareness, Human Rights & Ethnic Relations, and Socio-Economic Development – Each of these sectors focus on increasing overall equality and opportunities for Roma communities.
True to its roots, the organization remains prepared to protect Roma from absorbing the damages of conflict. In the event that a crisis situation arises in the region, all the aforementioned divisions dissolve and a 5th sector – Urgent Aid & Assistance – is activated to provide relevant support. Through its 20 years of experience working with Roma in Gostivar, HCRA Mesecina has gained the trust of the local community and works to ensure continued development and equality for the future.