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Social activists learn to be experts
Training of experts. The module "Policy Analysis" with the coach Maria Golubeva. Photo by Olena Orlova, IRC "Legal Space"
Training of experts. The module "Policy Analysis" with the coach Maria Golubeva.

To interact with the government, obtain versatile tools that will enable to reach different levels with specific proposals to improve the lives of Roma communities – those were issues presented to representatives of public organizations in the training organized by International Renaissance Foundation in late July in Kyiv.

The training was targeted at community activists who represent the interests of the Roma communities and seek to develop their expert and analytical potential. These skills are needed in the first place so they could reach the level of central and regional authorities with specific recommendations and suggestions for the improvement of living conditions of the Roma minorities.

This requires some effort on the part of experts. They need to understand the situation and to be aware of the current context in this country, burdened with political aspects and military conflict and socio-economic crisis. To understand how to interact with the government.

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The training was attended predominantly by members of the Coalition of Roma NGOs of Ukraine - an informal Association of Roma non-governmental organisations working in the field of analysis and improvement of the plan of implementing the Strategy 2020.

In the course of three days experts from the Odesa, Kharkiv, Poltava, Lviv oblasts and Transcarpathia were trained by Maria Golubeva (Lithuania) and Aider Seitosmanov (Ukraine).

Analysis of policies and search for "access points"

The first two days dedicated to the analysis of policies. In this case it was a question of policy documents focused on the integration of the Roma population.

“If you want to have your arguments heard and influence you need to achieve a certain personal level. It is not just for the representatives of the Roma communities. All need to convey to others their interests, well-founded criticisms that the situation is far from perfect and it’s high time to change something. If, for example, a significant percentage of Roma children do not go to school, public activists, politicians and society have to draw attention to it. And you must be able to cover this issue professionally”, noted the analyst Maria Golubeva (pictured).

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The focus is on local practices

The third day of training was more focused on local practices - as applied to the topic about real changes in communities. When in the process of decentralization local governments will get more authority and thus be able to dispose greater resources, they need to properly track the processes at the local level, to influence them, to become active participants. One of the objectives of the study was to increase the level of participation of Roma communities in decision-making processes.

“Due to decentralization effective legal mechanisms that will help the Roma community have appeared. You need to know the situation in the system of decentralization, challenges and entry points in this process. It is important that the experts working in the field could be more professional, efficient approach with the ideas for the partnership authorities, local communities and build action plans", explained Aider Seitosmanov (pictured).

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International Renaissance Foundation conductedtTraining in this format for the first time. The current training is the second in a series of educational activities focused on the development of expertise.

“These training events are part of the operating activities of the Roma Program Initiative, one element of the work of the International Renaissance Foundation. Since it is not only a donor, but the educational organization. And here we are already working with specific people who have shown their interest, showed their potential and motivation to develop as experts”, noted the Director of the Roma Program Initiative Olga Zhmurko.

Until the end of the year 2 such training are planned. During the final training a public round table meeting involving all experts is scheduled. They will be asked to submit their recommendations and best practices for optimization of existing policy documents targeting the Roma.

Participants of the training on the training outcomes

Volodymyr Kondur, Chairman of the Coalition of Roma NGOs of Ukraine:

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Such training is important: each Coalition member can then act as the expert in his region. In fact it gives them the opportunity to take an active part in the changes, to represent the interests of the Roma communities, to be trainers and to train Romani activists who wish to join the work.

Mykola Burlutsky, head of NGO “Chachimo" (Kharkiv):

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We saw how we can influence the processes occurring in the country, how a public organization can monitor the policies of local authorities in the field, to offer them their options – in fact, to be not just observers, but active participants in the process.

Oleksiy Padchenko, head of NGO “Lacho Drom" (Zaporizhzhya):

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During the training we were taught to do the monitoring of the implementation of the Roma strategy in the field to submit this data to local authorities – and to enter a more detailed dialogue with the authorities. A big advantage of the meeting is that we have created Coordination Council of the Coalition, which will set the pace of its work, will allow us to make decisions more quickly and efficiently.

Mykola Yurchenko, the head of NGO "Terpine" (Lviv):

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My practical experience in public activities is 16 years, but new information and theory for me is always valuable. Their combination is the key to a good result. We met with special programs, the experience of other countries and it will help us to adapt the acquired knowledge to our situation.

Tatiana Khmeleva, a Roma activist (Toretsk, Donetsk region):

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We cooperate with the NGO "Ecology and social protection". The Roma in our region have a lot of problems: illiteracy, problems with employment, health care and others. The acquired knowledge will hopefully help us to formulate our needs and demands to the authorities and to achieve the best results.

Anatoly Lomovtsev, lawyer of NGO "Mirgorod Roma (Mirgorod):

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We learned a lot of useful things to use them in practice. It's very important to get new information, learn new terms, concepts. This will help not only to provide legal assistance to the local Roma, but also to carry out trainings, round tables with participation of authorities, to implement new projects.

Mykola Cherniavsky, haed of the NGO "Roma Mirgorod" (Mirgorod):

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We plan monitoring, preparation of information leaflets, the establishment of a Roma research and consultation center, Sunday school for Roma youth... a lot of ideas and acquired knowledge will help implement and reinforce the 10 years of my practice in the public sector.

More photos in the gallery to the article.

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