The Spanish foundation “Drom Kotar” organized the Second International Roma Women Congress in the Pearl of the Mediterranean Barcelona ( the first Congress was held in 2010)
In the end of March the hosts of the event welcomed Roma women from 15 countries in Europe. Bulgaria was represented by a group of women, sent by Center Amalipe. The six participants – young girls and women, working on different programs of Center Amalip, with main focus on empowering Roma women and early marriage prevention.
The Congress started with spectacular opening ceremony in the City hall of Barcelona and was attended by the Mayor – Mrs. Ada Kolau. In three days the women had a chance to hear and share good practices in the different panels of the Congress. The main goal was to motivate all women to fight the outdated traditions and to work for integration and higher education of their families and for the whole Roma communities, and keeping their Roma identity in the process. Both women with higher education and on power positions, as well as women fighting for their education, shared their stories. 15 different languages were spoken, but the one that connected all was Romani.
The Bulgarian group had its time for presentation. Violeta Staneva, active parent from the Parents club in Primary School “P. Volov”, Madara, Shumen Province, shared her work in school. The innovation, which Center Amalipe is implementing with the parents, teaching classes in Programme “Your class”, was presented by Violeta with a presentation “Small creative initiatives, that make the educational system in Bulgaria more interesting, familiar and useful – for children, parents and teachers.”. This good practice was well received and was recognized as something that the other participants wanted to implement immediately.
In the end of the Congress the main goal was reached – every woman discovered “the thing , that she will implement in her life to make it better. The hosts promised that there will be third International congress and they start with the organization immediately.
Ambassadors from the Roma Inclusion Ambassadors Group and the Swiss ambassadors from 6 Balkan countries discussed current challenges in the policies of Roma integration with the Chairman of Center Amalipe Deyan Kolev. It happened to a meeting, organized on 13th March from H.E. Dennis Knobell, ambassador of Switzerland in Bulgaria and co-chairman of The Roma Inclusion Ambassadors Group.
By welcoming the guests, H.E. Ambassador Knobell emphasized on the engagement of Switzerland, as well of The Roma Inclusion Ambassadors Group, with the partners support for implementing the integration policies. Within the framework of the Bulgarian-Swiss program is supported a special sub-program "Health and education for all", which intervenes in Burgas, Sliven, Shumen, Rousse, Montana and Plovdiv to increase the number of Roma children attending kindergarten and the results are encouraging. Ambassador Knobell emphasized the fact that The Roma Inclusion Ambassadors Group is a voluntary union of 12 European and US ambassadors who share a common concern and willingness to assist the Bulgarian authorities in implementing the National Roma Strategy. He is grateful for Amalipe's active role and partnership in this endeavor.
In his presentation Deyan Kolev stressed that Roma are not a problem but a potential for development in Bulgaria, citing data from World Bank reports that more than one fifth of young people who are expected to enter the labor market are Roma. From this point of view, Roma integration is not only a human rights issue but also a key task for securing economic and social development, Kolev said. Therefore, the implementation of the National Roma Strategy should be one of the top five political priorities, but the reality is different: the rise of anti-Roma rhetoric by ultranationalist politicians, the transformation of domestic conflicts into ethnic ones and the inactivity of the large political parties, who prefer not to mention the few real actions they take in this direction. Given the fact that Bulgaria is part of the EU, any support from our partner countries and the European Commission is important in order to make Roma integration a political priority. The existence of The Roma Inclusion Ambassadors Group is an exceptional fact in this direction.
Answering questions from ambassadors, Kolev expressed the view that migration in Western European countries includes the more active Roma, and not the most marginalized families. The EU and the Member States do not use the potential of these groups to be the link, contributing to the development of both Bulgaria and host countries. In regard to this, it is imperative to establish a mechanism for tracking the enrollment in school of children migrating abroad and returning back to Bulgaria. A sensible investment is the development of manufacture in the areas, from which there is a concentration of migrants , that could engage returnees from abroad.
Deputy Minister of Education Denitsa Sacheva presented the work of interinstitutional teams that have already returned to the classrooms nearly 22,000 dropouts. This is an important priority of the current government and its implementation is backed by changes in the system of delegated budgets and by providing more funds to schools integrating students from vulnerable groups, said Sacheva.
The Roma Inclusion Ambassadors Group, RIAG, is a broad and open platform that includes 12 embassies and the EU Representation in Bulgaria. They have a long and sincere commitment to the problems of the Roma community in Bulgaria. Accordingly, the main objective of the RIAG is twofold: first, to raise awareness and engagement at the central political level with the Bulgarian institutions, and second, to maintain contact with the community and to involve the community representatives. The group is chaired jointly by H.E. Dennis Knobell (Ambassador of Switzerland) and the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The activities of the RIAG are coordinated by the Roma Program Management Department at the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy.
The Extended Group or the Roma Forum (RF) complements the work of the RIAG. It brings together the main embassies, authorities, international organizations and non-governmental organizations. The activities of the RF are coordinated by the Amalipe Center for Interethnic Dialogue and Tolerance.
The Head of the political department of the Embassy of Germany in Bulgaria Mr. York Schuegraf and his team visited Center for interethnic dialog and tolerance “Amalipe” in Veliko Tarnovo on 19th of March 2018. During the meeting in front of the guests were presented the main activities of the Center and the programs, that organization is working on for more than 8 years.
During the meeting the diplomat stated, that the German embassy is highly engaged with providing a solution for the problems of the Roma people in Europe and sees Amalipe as the most active Roma organization and values highly the opinion of its experts. Future joint initiatives were discussed, especially in the field of professional education and following employment. Mr. Schuegraf was presented with information about the main Roma groups in Bulgaria and their specifics , as well as information about the main groups which representatives emigrates abroad, especially in Germany. Mr. Deyan Kolev suggested the idea of creating joint informational system between Germany and Bulgaria for monitoring the emigration of students, traveling with their families abroad, so they can go back to school if eventually they return to Bulgaria. The idea of advertising low populated regions in Bulgaria, from which there are a lot of emigrants in Germany, so that German investors, that have hired Bulgarian citizens, can move part of their manufacture in Bulgaria.
Mr. Schuegraf presented the European Roma Institute for art and culture (ERIAC). ERIAC is an association, registered under the German law on 7th of June 2017 in Berlin, Germany. The main goals of ERIAC are to educate and inform the non-roma population about the Roma art and culture and to help for reaching tolerance and mutual respect between Roma and the non-roma communities, as well as increasing the awareness in the European institutions, representatives and all stakeholders about the role of the Roma art and to create broad partnership in Europe ( and outside of Europe) for supporting Roma art, culture and communities.
Deyan Kolev, Dessislava Stefanova, Andrey Iliev and Teodora Krumova invited Mr. Schuegraf to welcome a student from the student parliament, winner in the concurs “Why secondary education?”, in the Embassy, so the student can be an ambassador for a day. Excited by the idea, Mr. Schuegraf offered to welcome 2 students, as he made a promise to show them the activities of the deputy-ambassador.
The initiative “School leaders – ministers and ambassadors for a day” is organized in honor of 8th of April – The International Roma Day.
Nearly 60 parents from South Bulgaria took part in training “Active parents for successful children”, organized by Center Amalipe from 23th to 25th of March in “Bryasta” Resort near Veliko Tarnovo. The participants are part of the Parents clubs and the Community councils in the schools, working on project “Every student will be a winner – 2” and are part the Network of Center Amalipe.
The bad weather and the snow, that surprised all, didn’t scare the young parents and local activists, who arrived at the training. During the training they were presented with information about the following topics “Roma people in Bulgaria and their attitudes towards education”, “How we can achieve better educational process with the school?”, “Key institutions, rights and obligations in the sphere of the education” and “Early marriages prevention”. A lot of good practices and experiences were shared. The topics provoked discussions and interesting opinions and attitudes were shared.
During the sessions the participants worked in small groups and completed practical tasks, with which they can work later in the vulnerable groups; to create and develop parent clubs and to help with cases of early marriage, dropping out of school and other.
The main goal of the event was to activate the parent community to be part of the school life and to be involved with children’s education. In the end of the training the parents shared that they feel more confident and motivated to help on local level to their children, but also to the school.
The training was part of project “Every student will be a winner -2”, financed by Trust for social achievement.
Тръст за социална алтернатива (ТСА) е неправителствена организация, чиято мисия е да се прекъсне порочния кръг на бедността чрез насърчаване на възможности, които помагат на най-непривилегированите граждани на България да постигнат образователен и икономически успех. ТСА подкрепя програми, които със своите почтеност, потенциал за разрастване и прозрачност спомагат за подобряване благосъстоянието на най-бедните хора в България, със специален фокус върху ромите.