REACT - Make Europe an equal place for Roma
To tackle the social exclusion Europe’s largest minority requires an understanding of the problems Roma face and the dedication to solve them. And it requires both a sense of urgency to act and a perspective of concrete opportunities for progress.
From October 2010 to November 2011, ERGO Network and its member organisations in Albania, Bulgaria and Romania conducted the REACT campaign.
With this campaign we wanted to reach out to citizens - Roma and non-Roma - media and governments. We started this project from the conviction that against a background of widespread anti Roma sentiment and ingrained negative stereotypes of Roma, we should try and test unorthodox approaches.
All we did, achieved and learned during the REACT campaign can be found on the following website
or view the campaign website for articles on the various activities that took place.
In Romania, the heart of the REACT campaign was the Alternative Education Club that was set up in School 136, just outside the Ferentari ghetto in Bucharest by the Policy Center for Roma Minorities. The activity targeted the children of the quarter, but was also a showcase presenting a live example and type of intervention to policy makers that can really bring a change. It was also the fertile soil in which partnerships could grow and crystallise: with individuals - ranging from involving volunteers to celebrities who raise the profile of the initiative - and organisations that have in various ways committed to the Club and the further work of the Policy Center.
Under the title, "Thank you, Mr. Mayor", Roma Active Albania (RAA) combined youth driven campaign activities with advocacy actions. Grassroots activists and youngsters - both Roma and non-Roma, from teenagers to university students - explored different ways to challenge negative stereotypes, entered into dialogue with (local) authorities, and generated public attention. They were coached to bring across their views and messages and some turned out to be impressive spokespersons on TV and media appearances and thus created rare visibility of Roma in Albania's public sphere.
In Bulgaria, also under the banner Thank you, Mayor!, the campaign run by Integro mobilized local activists in 14 municipalities and provided them with a framework, the resources and the skills and tools to enter into dialogue with local authorities. The campaign supported the activists to create bottom-up pressure and set relations between Roma communities and local administration on a new footing in all municipalities. In a number of municipalities concrete measures were taken to improve living conditions of Roma and to enable them to participate as equal citizens. Also national policymakers were made aware of the importance of local involvement regarding Roma integration and their views on Roma were challenged by providing positive examples of active citizenship.
The bottom-up campaigns in Albania and Bulgaria reached across borders from October to December 2010, when they were joined by ERGO Network members in Moldova, Serbia and Turkey under the common title Thank you ...?! Partnering for Roma Inclusion. In all these countries, grassroots campaigns that intended to boost the visibility of Roma as citizens and to take a close look at the state of Roma inclusion policies were conducted.
Young Roma Professionals
This component of the REACT campaign aimed to create a model for investment in Roma human resources as role models within their environment. The project comprised an integrated capacity building component to reinforce capacity at implementing partners with the focus on offering coaching, training, and professional development opportunities.
To read more:
Or download the booklet here.