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Roma public activists learned how to mobilize the community
The participants of training “Self-organization in Roma communities” Photo from «Vested» public organization archive
The participants of training “Self-organization in Roma communities”

Each year Roma communities are more and more convinced that solving of their problems depends on willingness to work and commitment of Roma. But conviction is not enough; you should possess the skills and experience of self-organization.

The specialists from Uzhgorod Community Law Center decided to improve the skills of Roma public activists. The training “Self-organization in Roma communities” took place in Uzhgorod in the beginning of October. The representatives of several Roma legal education and human rights organizations from Uzhgorod and Chop took part in the event. The team of Carpathian agency on human rights “Vested” headed by Mariya Menzhul organized this training.

The training was conducted by one of the best Ukrainian education specialists, the trainer of Council of Europe Yaryna Borenko. She said: “Together we will try to understand what we need to know in order to solve problems, what kind of support should we have, and what will community gain from this”.

After acquaintance and discussion of participants' expectations, the active work in three directions started. The first one included pre-school and general education. The second direction included cooperation of local authorities and community. The third one included improvement of Roma settlements. Participants joined in three small groups.

The members of the first group analyzed the problem of access to pre-school education and found out that in Uzhgorod children need to be enrolled in a “queue” in order to attend kindergarten. The other problem issues are: low rate of attendance of kindergartens by Roma children; segregated schools, classes and groups; lack of “Roma” component in school programmes - information on Roma history and culture. There is also a problem of lack of after school work with Roma students. The most important issue, therefore, is training of teachers who will be able to inform students about Roma history and culture.

The second group worked on the issue of cooperation between local authorities and community. Roma public organizations should combine their efforts and consolidate. The most important issues here are the role of the leader and qualities he/she should possess in order to organize people for common goal.

The third group discussed the issue of Roma settlements improvement. Training’s participants received interesting and useful information on territory improvement based on the example of improvement of road in Roma settlement in Chop.

Despite the fact that training lasted for 2 days, its participants were not tired and worked in groups constantly. At the end of the seminar Yaryna Borenko gave addresses of several foundations where similar problems can be solved.

At the end of the event Mariya Menzhul thanked Yaryna Borenko and all participants for interesting and successful training.

Additional Information: Community Law Centers which provide free legal aid for Roma people are established with the support of the International Renaissance Foundation within the framework of “Roma of Ukraine” programme initiative. You can learn more on the Centers network activities, basics and principles of work here: www.legalspace.org

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