DEŠA is an NGO in Dubrovnik, Croatia, founded in 1993 in response to the tragic effects of the siege of Dubrovnik in the early nineties. Initially organized to aid refugees and displaced women after these events, the organization has evolved over the years to tackle post-war reconstruction, humanitarian aid, and ecological initiatives. DEŠA continues to promote the role of woman and youth in community development, throughout its programs. Various initiatives are aimed at curbing unemployment and social exclusion, the preservation of national heritage and natural resources, and the establishment of cross-border cooperation in the region. Projects intended for the wider community include sustainable development, promoting social entrepreneurship, and the preservation of cultural heritage and tradition. DEŠA has always believed in the peacemaking role of women and their ability to promote tolerance and initiate constructive dialogue among Croatia’s multiple ethnicities. DEŠA also works to help women to become economically independent and to assume more active roles in the development of their communities.
Each year DEŠA organizes educational programs including foreign language and computer courses, as well as workshops teaching traditional craft and production. According to DEŠA, their most significant group of projects are called 'Return to Life' programs, which promote cultural and economic development in rural parts of Croatia. These include the Silk Project, which aims to revive sericulture in the region, as well as preserve the traditional national dress. Another 'Return to Life' program is known as the Konavle Rural Tourism project, which works to further the economic development of the farming population of Konavle.
In 2001 DEŠA began a new participatory program to address the endangered cultural heritage of the Dubrovačko Primorje region of southern Croatia, working with community members of all ages to explore possibilities for its renewal. To keep updated on these and other activities visit here.