“Our House” was founded in December 2002 as a self-published newspaper with the same name, in one of the apartment houses on Tereshkova street in Vitebsk.
In 2004 it evolved into a Civil Campaign in Vitebsk. In October 2005 the Campaign was joined by human rights activists, activists from various parties, associations and organizations and active citizens. Since the end of 2005 the Campaign has also been represented on the Internet.
In 2008 it gained national status. During this period many actions were conducted by human rights activists and activists in cities of Belarus: monitoring of implementation of the barrier-free environment and the civil control action “Dangerous Children’s Playgrounds” in Gomel, and the photo hunt “Reveal Yourself” in Navapolatsk. National actions for cleaning up cemeteries, the gender equality festival “Women’s Fishing 2010” and the youth festival of good mood “Endorphin”. Abroad – anti-nuclear protest in Germany. Various traditional holidays in the cities participating in the Campaign for citizens – Women’s Day (March 8), Valentine’s Day (February 14), Sobriety Day, Koladyady.
In 2009, according to a survey by IISEPS (Independent Institute for Socio-Economic and Political Studies), even in 5 years after its (changing into a Civil Campaign) founding, over 18% of voters in the Republic of Belarus (persons over the age of 18) knew and heard about the Civil Campaign “Our House”, which is about 1.4 million people in quantitative terms. 7.6% of respondents stated that they received and are receiving materials from “Our House” (newspaper “Our House”), which is approximately 570,000 people, adult residents of the Republic of Belarus. According to the June IISEPS poll, 21.2% of Belarusians know about the “Our House” Civil Campaign.
In 2010, the formerly small-format newsletter “Our House”, which told citizens about concrete examples of fighting for their rights, evolved into a real colorful full-size newspaper for free distribution to the mailboxes of residents of Belarusian cities – facing multiple arrests, detentions of circulation, arrests of activists with copies (which was also a novelty in similar situations) and fines (previously authorities had treated the publication neutrally).
The Civil Campaign also published many other publications – “Dictionary of Consumers of Housing and Communal Services”, a collection of political jokes, “Memo to the Police on the Model Attitude to Female”, the youth magazine “Squat”, the manual “Capital Repair of Residential Buildings”, prepared and proposed corrections to the new Housing Code and amendments to the bill on citizens’ appeals. A film “Illich bulb” was made and translated into German.
OUR GOAL IS:
citizens of Belarus should become masters of Our shared House which is Belarus.
At the time of its emergence, the Civil Campaign set as its goal social and educational activities in the sphere of basic human rights, namely, providing specific practical assistance to active people in self-defense of their civil, legal, and constitutional rights in conflict with the Belarusian state as a group of officials. At the beginning, priority was given to the ways to solve social and housing problems, as well as to the formation of cultural awareness.
Due to numerous violations of citizens’ rights, it was not possible to register as an organisation in Belarus. In 2014, “Our House” was registered in Lithuania and has since been presented as a non-profit organisation, International Centre for Civil Initiatives “Our House” (Tarptautinis Pilietinių Iniciatyvų Centras “Mūsų Namai” in Lithuanian).
“Our House” is also known in Latvia, Poland, Germany and Ukraine.
After the presidential election and protests in Belarus in 2020, and the war unleashed by Russia against Ukraine in 2022, a huge number of people in Belarus and Lithuania were in need of humanitarian assistance. Thus, “Our House” has taken over the provision of this assistance. Paying fines and food to victims in Belarus, providing psychological support, finding jobs, and helping refugees in Lithuania with accommodation, food and clothing became the main activities of “Our House” today. Our House also continues to monitor human rights violations in cooperation with other organisations.
OUR MISSION IS:
active and comprehensive protection of human rights, including support for the most vulnerable and marginalized groups, with a special focus on women and children who easily become victims of human rights violations under repressive regimes, and assisting refugees fleeing terror, violence and war. We try to fill those voids and lacunas in the field of human rights that are not covered by our colleagues from other human rights organizations.