WEGA’s Russian beginnings and abrupt end

Our humanitarian action started in 1996 at the beginning of the Perestroika when the Communist Party of Luxembourg was still powerful in the industrial part of Luxembourg (coal and steel, the Arbed Insdustrial Barons). Two Luxembourg friends – Albert Weber, a retiree of the Arbed factory and an ex-prisoner of the Soviet Tambov Camp and Nick Klecker, a communist and an intellectual – asked us to send food and clothing to Moscow. At the time, the previously industrial, working class North of Luxembourg was still very left-leaning and even in the Parlament of Luxembourg there was a powerful political party of Tambov Camp survivors eager to thank the Russian people for the support they had shown the prisoners. The second hand clothes, food and toys came mostly from Trier and the Russian Orthodox Church of Luxembourg, led by a Russian emigré, blessed each of our trucks. We managed to raise money from private donors to pay for driver’s salaries and gas. WEGA also had a team of locals in Moscow, who helped to distribute, what trucks had brought to those who needed it.

The following year, the then Ambassador of Russia to Luxembourg, Mr. Gloukhov, asked us to aid a village where the Ambassador had spent his summers. Our local volunteers in Moscow drove to this village during a snowstorm. WEGA managed to provide repairs to a bridge, as this was in poor state and was the only road to the outside world, created a carpentry workshop, provided 60 pairs of shoes and second-hand computers.

That same year WEGA started a partnership with a Cardiologist Association in Paris. This partnership managed to raise money and bring pacemakers to the patients in need in Moscow and equipped 75 patients in need that year.

After 5 years of activity in Moscow & Russia, WEGA was declared a “hostile foreign agent” by the Russian government, was pushed to cease all activity and expelled from the country, even though WEGA had received the Peter the Great humanitarian medal a few years prior.

WEGA builds links to Armenia

Lucky for us, the community of Petange in Luxembourg was seeking a political twinning (a.k.a. sister city or twin town) with the town of Dilijan in Armenia, a historical mountain city on the Silk Road. The community of Petange offered WEGA, then only an, a project and funding, if WEGA manages to get accredited by the Luxembourg Government and become an NGO. Both the project and accreditation were a success: in cooperation with ARS (from the US), WEGA organized a school to be rebuilt in Dilijan.

A further project in Armenia was a micro-finance project, suggested by Dieter Hartwich. WEGA micro-financed rural Armenian women-farmers and taught them about finances. Our first loans were 50 Euros, without interest. After two years, we raised the sum to a 100 Euros, with low interest and the women, who had started with hens and eggs, managed to buy cows and expand their farming business and their well-being.

WEGA connects to the Philippines

After WEGA’s time in Armenia, we searched for new countries and new partners to develop humanitarian aid projects in. WEGA seemed to go through a time of change and luckily WEGA found a long-lasting cooperation and friendship in LPAD – Philippine Action of Luxembourg. The Filipino community of Luxembourg is known for their patriotism, organizational talents and kindness. From then on, WEGA started also doing projects in the Philippines. Another project focusing on mangrove reforestation was implemented thanks to The Mangrove Foundation Luxembourg.

WEGA’s story in Ukraine

As Ms. Colette Hartwich has deep ties to Ukarine and has always been passionate about raising awareness of the issues facing this country long before the invasion of Russia. Together with the Charitable Foundation “Good Samaritan for Children with Special Needs“ and LUkraine asbl Luxembourg WEGA finally got to implement a big project in the Lviv Oblast region. The project was finished at the end of 2021, just before the Russian invasion. The Farm is currently being used as a shelter.

WEGA’s foundations

The founding members of Humanitarian WEGA a.s.b.l. in 1996 were:

In 2003 WEGA requested, and obtained, the ONG status from the Ministry of Co-operation.

In 2005 the presidency was passed on to Mrs. Colette Hartwich; Mrs. De Moor retiring due to old age. As already mentioned, the commune of Petange, having a twin city partnership with the city of Dilijan in Armenia, co-financed WEGA’s project to renovate a school. Thanks to this project, the commune of Petange encouraged the M.A.E.E. to accredit WEGA their ONG status, opening the door to having projects co-financed by the M.A.E.E.

On March 24, 2014 the presidency was taken over by Mr. Edward Cardew who resigned February 24th, 2018.

The position was then taken on by Ms. Annie Gatia till Aug 9, 2020.

Ms. Xenia Catacutan took over shortly till Nov 14, 2020 followed by Mr. Murray Smith.

On March 21st, 2021 Ms. Colette Hartwich became president again, but sadly had to resign Sept 30, 2022 due to health.