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Express courses to develop mutual understanding: mediation and specifics of work with Roma families
Totally about 150 social workers and civil servants from five oblasts of Ukraine participated in courses.Photo: Zemfira Kondur’s Facebook page
Totally about 150 social workers and civil servants from five oblasts of Ukraine participated in courses.

From May to July this year, through the implementation of Roma Health Mediators Program and ROMED2 Programme five express refresher courses for social workers and civil servants were conducted in five regions of Ukraine.

The program is developed and approved by experts of ICF “Chiricli”and the institute staff, and also by trainers of ROMED2 Programme.

Training took place in Lviv, in particular, at the request of the social service in Kirovograd and in the city of Alexandria of Kirovograd oblast, in Odessa - for city and regional social centers and representatives of different departments. In Kharkiv there were conducted courses for two groups, as there were a large number of persons interested in training.

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Practical training in groups. Photo: Zemfira Kondur’s Facebook page

In general, the courses were attended by about 150 persons, who received certificates of completion.

The main purpose of training was to familiarize participants with the following: the concept of Roma mediation; ROMED Programme and its implementation in Ukraine; the specificity of Roma families, society, culture, history and traditions of Romani people.

Participants got acquainted with the State Standard of the social services concerning the representation of interests, in developing which experts of ICF “Chiricli” took an active part. Testing the above State Standard takes place currently in the greater part of the territory of Ukraine.

It should be noted that trainers of the courses were the Roma. At first public officials and social workers were shocked: “What can the Roma teach us?!” When at the beginning of training the question arose: “What do you know about Romani people”, as a rule, the answers were full of negative attitudes: the Roma are thieves, they are lazy, do not want either to study or work… But when participants saw the Roma trainers of the Council of Europe, who provided broad information on mediators and relevant issues, many of them found it hard to perceive the situation adequately.

However, despite all those stereotypes, the courses ended positively in every city. People began to realize that the situation, the Roma live in, does not always depend on them. If, for instance, many Roma have no documents, it is not because they do not want to; or they are in such difficult conditions not because they like it. Participants started getting a deeper understanding of the causes of the situation of many Roma.

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Head of Chachimo NGO (Kharkiv) Mykola Burlutsky became one of trainers. Photo: Zemfira Kondur's Facebook page.

Certainly, it would be naive to think that such express courses can turn people’s negative attitude to the Roma society into the positive one. But many participants recognized their thoughts and position concerning the Roma to have changed; as a result, their bias was not so much to the end of training.

Organizers of the courses consider such results to be their big achievements and success. Also all courses were conducted in cooperation with the State Institute for Family and Youth Policy of the Ministry of Education and Science, Youth and Sports of Ukraine and with assistance of local authorities. Representatives of local administrations invited employees of those departments who are anyway involved in the implementation of the Roma strategy at the local level. Therefore, such courses were of great relevance in these regions.

In addition, the method developed by organizers in relation to the Roma mediation is also possible to use for the work with other social groups. For example, with those, which are closed for social workers or have specific, which are difficult to realize if you aren't the member of this group (temporarily displaced persons, migrants). Therefore, the value of the courses can hardly be overestimated, and their organizers are ready to share the gained experience and their best practices with all interested institutions.

Reference

For today a network of Roma Health Mediators, who work in Roma communities in Ukraine, includes 55 persons. During the project implementation mediators rendered assistance to over 12 000 Roma.
ROMED2 Programme focuses on democratic management and participation through mediation of the local community. It provides support to the implementation of national strategy of integration of Roma communities at the local level developed in the context of the EUFramework forNational Roma Integration Strategies, and also some countries which developed national Strategies relating to the Romani people within the Decade of Roma Inclusion 2005-2015.

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