INTeRo Centar: Empowerment and Nonviolence in Croatia

In the post-war region of Southeast Europe, Intero centre is working on reconciliation, but also empowering people for nonviolence in their everyday life and efforts towards social change.

This is happening through individual empowerment by strengthening people so they can be the change and giving them the necessary tools to influence change by the principals of non-violence. This is realised through different workshops, but also through counselling sessions which use the method of person-oriented therapy, nonviolent communication. In both empathy is one of the most emphasised skills. This way people acquire tools to face everyday challenges, they are more in touch with their emotions and needs and learn how to manage conflicts.

Neda Popović and Mihael Sečen are both trained in the non-violent communication method by Marshall B. Rosenberg and non-violent action methods. They also attended educations on different Therapy Methods like Gestalt, Family Therapy, Person-oriented Therapy, etc. which helps them to work with people in counselling sessions to work through their personal experiences and traumas that create obstacles in their every-day lives.

Though both have been working in different organisation doing similar work before, they founded Intero centre in 2014, offering nonviolent communication trainings, counselling, and mediations.

Belonging to a religious community is both important and a matter of course in the lives of many Croats. After their coming-out, lesbians, gays, transsexuals (LGBTQ+) are often excluded from communities, rejected by their families and discriminated by society. The INTeRo Centar in Rijeka offers LGBTQ+ people a place to exchange information and ideas. It also takes homosexuality and spirituality into churches and communities. With Mihael coming out as gay they also started the “Priceless” program which includes different projects that focus on LGBT+ people of faith. Realising that there are several organisations in this region that work with LGBT+ people in general, they realised that there is no support offered to LGBT+ people who have a religious background and experience discrimination from both, religious and LGBT+ communities. This is resulting with them not being able to turn to anyone for help. As part of this program, they organised groups, weekends, round tables, documentary evenings and a podcast that is also in English for LGBT+ people of faith and allies.

In 2021 they started a project in 3 Croatian cities, named “Superwoman”. It is a project for empowering young girls and young women. As part of a monthly group, they work on different topics that are relevant to their generation, gender and are learning to love and value themselves as well as the right to having boundaries and how to set them. It is a combination of strengthening them individually to grow into self-aware women, who believe in themselves and their capabilities, but also a violence prevention program where they can learn to stand up for themselves, know their rights and gain tools that can help them to accomplish that. The whole program is based on the basic principles of non-violence and is structured using experiential learning through creative workshops which are game-like and yet lead into deep conversations and reveal valuable learning moments. This project is partially led by volunteers who are getting impowered and educated themselves. Meanwhile, working with volunteers grew into a project by itself, called “Together” where they are investing additional time into training the volunteers, creating space for their own processes and empowerment.

More about the Project

"I will give you future and hope"

May 2019: At the 70th anniversary celebration of Church & Peace 2019, Mihael Sečen from our Croatian partner organization INTeRo gave a sermon impulse…



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