Cross - Border Closing Conference

The association HOPS - Healthy Options Project Skopje, within the EU funded project Prevention of HIV transmissions and drugs among resident population in the cross-border area, is organizing the last event of the project i.e. Cross - Border Closing Conference.

Main purpose of the conference is to promote eight local strategies for HIV/Drug prevention (4 HIV prevention strategies form Macedonia and 4 Drug prevention strategies from Kosovo) and to present the project outcomes trough video advocacy – presentation of 6 documentary videos. 

Invited participants of the events are as follows: - Councilors and civil servants from 8 municipalities and local self-governments involved in the project, High representatives from the relevant ministers, civil servants from public institutions and several civil society organizations dealing with marginalized communities.

Modertor of the Conference is Ognen Janeski, while the orators are: Hristian Jankuloski - HOPS, Safet Blakaj - NGO Labyrinth - Kosovo, Irena Ivanova EU Delegation in Macedonia, Zvonko Milenkovic - National Coordinator for HIV Macedonia, Katerina Spasovska - University Clinic for Infectious Diseases and febrile conditions,  Edlira Plans - Project assistant - NGO Labyrinth.


The event will take place in Skopje, Hotel Holiday Inn, on 3th of November, 2016, starting from 11:00 am

Call for Articles for 8th issue of the Drugs - „Policies and Practices magazine“

HOPS – Healthy Options Project Skopje’s Center for Education, Documentation and Research and Coalition “Sexual and Health Rights of Marginalized Communities” announce call for articles for 8th issue of the Drugs – Policies and Practices magazine.

Drugs – Policies and Practices promotes topics about drugs, drug use, drug treatment, and other related topics, such as: sex work and drugs, HIV/AIDS and drugs, Hepatitis B and C and drugs, Tuberculosis and drugs, rights of the marginalized groups/communities, gender perspectives, free access to public information, researches, policies, advocacy, civil society, activism, social work, social policy, health, through the drugs perspectives.

Vanja Dimitrievski with its inscription for the newsletter COPASAH Communiqué


The author is a program assistant at CEDR – Centre for Education, Documentation and Research at HOPS – Healthy Options Project Skopje. He has a Master’s degree in Ethnology and Anthropology and long research experience with different socially marginalized groups/communities, particularly people who use drugs.

Budget monitoring and dealing with institutional barriers in Macedonia

Budget monitoring can be a beneficial tool not only to access public information, but also to prompt public institutions to greater accountability and transparency. Of course, this is not so feasible in a country like Macedonia, despite the separate Law on Free Access to Public Information. The positive aspect in these circumstances is that the process itself reveals institutional weakness, which on the other hand creates the opportunity for developing new communication and cooperation strategies with the institutions.

HOPS – Healthy Options Project Skopje in 2014 decided to carry out budget monitoring in order to examine the possibility for financing the harm reduction programs in Macedonia from the state budget of the country. Now, halfway through 2016, these programs are still being funded from finances provided by the Global Fund to Fight against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Funding from the Global Fund stops in December 2016, however, in 2014 there were still no announcements that the obligation for financing these programs would be assumed from the Budget of the Republic of Macedonia. In fact, the future financing of these programs in Macedonia remains uncertain, that, however, is not the topic of this discussion.

Our recommendation for movie and book

Book: Christiane V. Felscherinow and Sonja Vukovic

Christiane F. – Mein zweites Leben: Autobiografie (Christiane F. - My Second Life)

Today Christiane F. is a 53-year-old woman who after her extensive work “Christiane F. – We Children of Bahnhof ZOO” became famous for the film based on the book inspired by her drug use in the late 1970s. “My Second Life” is a sequel in which she writes of her life after the events described in the first book. She began her music career in the early 1980s together with her boyfriend Alexander Hacke, a member of the band Einstürzende Neubauten. She hung out with Nick Cave, Depeche Mode and Billy Idol and attended cocaine parties with Van Halen. She flew over Berlin with David Bowie in The Rolling Stones’ private jet. In the 35 years following after Bahnhof ZOO she was constantly struggling with heroin addiction. In 2008 she lost custody of her now adult son. Interestingly enough, despite the chaos she was in, she managed to maintain financial stability better than many famous people, carefully saving the profit from her first book. Overall, it seems as an interesting book. The book is only available in German for now, however translations in other 20 languages are announced. We hope to have the opportunity to read it in Macedonian as well.

LINK for the book.

Municipality of Gostivar has adopted LOCAL STRATEGY FOR THE PREVENTION OF HIV

Gostivar, 09.20.2016: On the thirty-second session of the Council of the Municipality of Gostivar unanimously was adopted the "LOCAL STRATEGY FOR THE PREVENTION OF HIV GOSTIVAR THE MUNICIPALITY FOR THE PERIOD 2016 to 2020" with the Action Plan for the period 2016-2017 years.

The local strategy is developed within the EU IPA project "Prevention of HIV and drug use among citizens in border areas," the CBC program Kosovo - Macedonia.

The preparation of the strategy lasted six months and was led by the Association HOPS - Healthy Options Project Skopje with support from local partner organization HELP Gostivar.

The process began in September 2015 with training in strategic planning, where was been set up a working group. After the training in the period from September 2015 to February 2016, followed coordination meetings for the preparation of the strategy. The working group consisted representatives of: the Municipality of Gostivar, Centre for Public Health, Infectious Diseases Clinic at the General Hospital, Center for Social Work, Police Station Gostivar, as well as local NGOs working with marginalized communities.

After the preparation of the draft document followed public debate about the applicantion of the Local Strategy and Action Plan was attended by representatives from the municipality and councilors of the same.

Within this project is pending the adoption of two local strategies for prevention of HIV for the municipality of Kumanovo and Tetovo.

Support for children who use drugs

I have always thought that most people in our country feel it is easier to adjust to certain decisions enforced by society than to fight for changes.

When I started working in HOPS as an outreach worker for children who use drugs I was shocked. To a great extent this was due to the fact that I had no idea that 4-year-old children inhale glue or that 8- and 9-year-old children could possibly inject methadone or diazepam. However, I was the most upset by the lack of opportunities for treatment and re-socialization of these children. That is why I love my job. I am happy to be helping children who use drugs at least within the allowed legislative frames, which are pretty strict towards these children.

Most of the children our outreach team contacts are children from the streets. This is because these are the children we detect as we see them every day on the city streets begging. I have noticed that they are afraid of professional staff, of institutions and the police, and as painful as it is, from social workers as well. I often wonder whether and how has our system failed in the care and work with these children. At first they were afraid of our team as well. They feared we might take them to an orphanage/institution and separate them from their parents. Of course, even though most of them were already placed in some kind of institutions for children, we found them every day on the streets inhaling glue, injecting methadone and begging. I find it difficult to understand how no one is looking for these children, no one is concerned where they might be and what they might be doing. Can they be motivated to remain in these institutions and continue with their education?

The Children Meet the Magician

This is a story of a magician’s triumph to bring happiness into children’s hearts! Of course, if this was a film you would have read the caption “this is a true story” at the beginning. And so, this is a story of children’s joy!

People might think it strange that instead of Santa Claus, children received their presents from a magician but we are known to do things differently here. Everyone enjoys a good trick. Illusion evokes thrill, laughter and delight in all audiences, hence perhaps the desire of most children to become magicians when they grow up or see a real life magician do incredible things at least once in their lifetime. In fact, children’s hidden desires are to make the impossible possible, to turn the bad into good, to create a world filled with joy and replace tears with laughter.

The children’s sincere desire to live in the world of fairytales or for us at least to capture this imaginary world of theirs has been our mission throughout the years and we have aimed to do this for the children whose parents use drugs.

Small things can sometimes lead to big smiles. One day the Re-socialization and Rehabilitation Center was visited by a man who brought great happiness and excitement among these children – a magician. Children meeting a magician is something every person should experience! A meeting filled with great joy beaming in the children’s eyes, big smiles on their faces, hearts filled with emotions, playful thoughts that make the children’s world a reality! Isn’t this the most beautiful present anyone could have ever wished for?

Counselling Centre for Prevention of Drug Use and Use of Other Psychoactive Substances among High School Students in Skopje

In my 21 years of working experience in the Centre for Prevention and Treatment of Drug Abuse and Abuse of Other Psychoactive Substances I have never encountered so many young people experimenting with drugs or using marihuana as I encountered in the first 6 months, and afterwards, at the Counselling Centre for prevention of drug use and use of other psychoactive substances among high school students in Skopje. I wondered why treatment centres for drug abuse and addiction had so few young clients, and I presumed it was two reasons; one reason was that young people have few problems related to psychoactive substances, and the other that these programs weren’t appealing to them. However, when I began working at the Counselling Centre I realized that young people had problems they wanted to share and solve with the help of a professional but had nowhere to turn to before the Centre was opened.

Most Often Used Psychostimulants

The idea behind the text is to destroy the myths, taboos and stereotypes regarding the use of psychostimulant drugs – psychostimulants.

At the very beginning I would like to ask a simple question: “Have you ever used some kind of a stimulant in your life.” Answer honestly to this and the next question, “If the answer is YES, then which ones?”

According to the definition a psychostimulant is a psychoactive substance that stimulates the central nervous system (CNS) or the body, or both, enhancing alertness and concentration.

In plain words, they are “uppers” that lift the mood, energy, alertness, opposite of some other drugs that are “downers”, for instance opioids.

Stimulants are used all over the world, some legal or illegal, prescription or non-prescription drugs, substances for daily and recreational use.

The possibility as well as the need for people to additionally stimulate the body and senses, to enhance their concentration and alertness result from certain substances which introduced to the human body can stimulate the CNS. Some of these psychoactive substances can be found in some plants in nature, while with the development of pharmacology towards the end of the 19th century, particularly in the 20th century, new substances were discovered that simulate the CNS. Arguably, some are legally available for sale and used popularly throughout the world, while other are controlled and prohibited (illegal) substances or prescribed by a doctor.