Welcome to the series #EVERYDAYHEROES in which we introduce exceptional members of our network. Through pop culture, we discovered that heroes fly, have superpowers, come from another planet, and wear capes and costumes, but there are other, real heroes. Heroes we are surrounded by every day, who raise their voices in times of injustice and fight for the rights of all of us. Who look the same as us, who express their superpower by fighting every day for a better and democratic society. Everyday heroes, that we have to talk about. Follow us on our Instagram to catch the next interview among the first ones.
Another Everyday Hero is Marija Bandulova from North Macedonia.
Can you introduce yourself?
I’m Marija Bandulova, from the Republic of North Macedonia. I have a Master’s degree in International Politics and Diplomacy, but despite my passion to study it, I have never been a political activist or a party member. That doesn’t make me less interested in political development, lobbying, and diplomatic relations because I deal with it every day through the various projects that I work on, from the other side as a civil activist who fights to be corrective of the authorities.
I am currently working as a Coordinator for project implementation in the Centre for development of the South-East planning region and I am an active member and volunteer in several civil society organizations at the local and national levels. At the same time, I also work as a youth worker, researcher, moderator, and facilitator for encouraging youth activism. Besides that, I am also part of the Executive Board of the Centre for research and analysis NOVUS and one of the founders of BETA Macedonia.
I completely dedicate my free time to EDYN, because when I’m surrounded by people who are #EVERYDAYHEROS and change-makers in their society, that fulfills and motivates me, that there is hope for things to get better. Besides that, I am a big fanatic about exploring new things and places, so in my free time, I also enjoy traveling.
What do you consider your biggest success?
Hmm, I have to admit that this is one of the more difficult questions to single out just one success… So I think empowering young people in my country is something that I’m most proud of. Being surrounded by young people every day and seeing them disappointed and looking for a way to leave the country, that’s exactly what inspires me to help them get into civic engagement. By advocating and lobbying for innovative solutions in the community, to get their voice to be heard through various activities under my guidance through different kinds of projects, and I am really proud that from a small group of young people with my engagement and commitment to youth policies and civil activism I managed to expand that group and motivate as many young people as possible to contribute to the community by making a bigger impact for a better tomorrow.
What does the word DEMOCRACY mean to you?
To me, democracy means respecting individual rights, especially political rights, which unfortunately are often neglected in our country depending on who is in power. Democracy means the right to speak without fear of reprisals, and to engage in discussions where the will of the majority of people who adhere to this concept is the source of power, while also taking into account the voices of minorities. Democracy means that people should be included in the important decisions affecting their country or communities and that their voices should be heard through dialogue, rather than violence.
Who do you consider your Everyday Hero and why?
For me, an everyday hero is someone who is brave enough to speak out against injustice, no matter how big or small the situation may be. Anyone who selflessly intervenes in a situation for a good reason and without fear is a hero to me. Our world needs more heroes, and it is our responsibility to bring out the hero that lives inside each of us, in order to make this world a better place.
What does the concept of Everyday Hero mean to you?
The concept of an everyday hero means someone who performs ordinary actions and simple acts of kindness, courage, and love. We tend to think of heroes as those who run into burning buildings or jump into the water to save someone who is drowning, and they certainly are heroes. But to me, everyday heroes can be found in the older lady who carries her groceries home in the cold winter, the young man across the street who runs to assist her, or the older lady down the street who shares her time reading and baking cookies with the neighborhood children. It can also be that person who enters your life on a truly bad day and makes you feel better. We can all be everyday heroes, but these actions must be done with purity and the goodness of our hearts, without the expectation of repayment. Therefore, when we are out in the world, we should pay attention and be someone’s hero, because as David Bowie sings, “We can all be heroes, even just for one day.” We all have the power to change someone’s entire worldview by carefully choosing our actions and words with respect and love.
Why did you become a member of EDYN?
I became a member of EDYN because it offers me a whole new perspective that is unlike any other network. The opportunity to be part of like-minded people who share the same problems, face the same challenges, and cherish the same values, all led by the goal of “vision instead of division,” is a privilege for me. Being a proud member of the EDYN Family allows me to grow personally and professionally alongside others, expanding our horizons while standing side by side with current actors in power all over the world. Together, we bring positive changes to our communities, guided by principles such as inclusion, constructive political engagement, solidarity, respect, ethical behavior, meritocracy, and environmental consciousness.