Bagazs Public Benefit Association
Local government of Bag
‘Parental Collaboration for our Village’ - informal group of parents in Bag, called “SzÖSz”
Tension, discrimination, intolerance. These words describe the relationship between a Roma settlement and the non-Roma neighborhood in an average Hungarian village.
But Bag is different: Bag wants to become a better place for everyone. Our projects brings together locals with different backgrounds, who will work in groups towards common goals (such as crime and littering), and create a long-term local Roma strategy, leading the village towards an inclusive, democratic, active community.
Bag is large village located 40 km from Budapest with 4000 habitants, out of which 400 are Roma, living at a segregated neighborhood.
The social tension between the minority and the majority in the village has become more and more acute over the years. The peaceful coexistence that took place earlier has been increasingly overturned since 2000, due to growing social differences: while the majority population of Bag is a highly traditional, religious community, the designer drugs have appeared in the already poor settlement, leading to increasing crime, tension, and brought more conflicts and even more growing poverty.
Our project reflects on this societal challenge by bringing together locals with very different backgrounds and working together towards common goals.
Roma people living in poverty are often capitalized by powerful actors (let it be national or local politicians, or Roma leaders) in Hungary. Their votes are often ‘bought’ either by false promises or by material donations; they do not have the capacity and means to be active citizens and practice their democratic rights.
From an informal aspect, in Bag, although there are community programs, celebrations, children’s events, the Roma population rarely participates in these.
Our project aims to change that: we would like to make the people from the settlement more active in the life of the village, and the non-Roma population more welcoming and inclusive.
Our target group is the village itself as such, regardless of the background and previous belief or perspective. We believe that the locals all want to achieve the same: a safer and peaceful place, where children can grow and study to have the best possible future.
Therefore our main target groups:
- Roma adults living at the settlement (about 200 people), who would like to make actions for a more peaceful environment
- The non-Roma inhabitants of Bag (about 2500-3000 people), regardless of their perspective about Roma people, as we would like to include the largest group possible: parents, teachers, local workers, entrepreneurs etc.
- The larger Hungarian society, as we would like to disseminate our findings and the Roma inclusion strategy for other villages and towns
The necessary preparations for launching the program have taken place in recent months at local forums. Roma and non-Roma locals identified three topics to address: crime, public waste, and stray dogs. During the program, we will set up working groups (which include all stakeholders: Roma, non-Roma and Bagazs staff) for these three projects. They create an action plan and implement it, solving these problems.
The working groups meet every two months in a local conference to discuss and report on progress. These joint occasions are also important to bring the working groups responsible for each area into synergy and to address the problem in a complex way. It would also provide a forum for locals who are not yet involved in the group but might be interested, or want to raise questions.
The three selected projects are a tool for learning more about each other, developing intercultural communication channels and for capacity building.
The main goal of the program is not only to implement these projects within 1 year, but to jointly develop a local Roma strategy. In the implementation of this strategy (from 2022) Bagázs would participate as a consultant only.
As a result of the project, the local government, the care system (ie the village itself) would be able to perform several Roma integration tasks - not only do we want to solve the identified three problems in one year, but also start a longer-term integration process, closer cooperation and active community life in the village, where everybody's voices are heard.
Bag is not the only village with the same problems: only in Hungary, there are altogether 1300 segregated Roma neighborhoods. The problem is present in whole Eastern-Europe and Balkans. Although this project is specifically implemented in one settlement, we would like to create a local Roma strategy that could be copied and implemented in other villages, contributing to a stronger, democratic Europe.
We have been working with the Roma community of Bag for 10 years: adults and children know us well at the settlement. But we feel like the time has come to take our work in the field of Roma integration to the next level, and make the village - the institutions, local government, the community itself - to be able to do 'our job' by themselves, or with very little help from the NGO. Overall, this would be the ultimate goal of Bagazs: to help the Roma communitiy and the majority as well to able to live together peacefully, without the presence of a 'third party'.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
Project management and coordination (personnel cost, Bagazs): 19 000 EUR
Coordinator from the local government (personnel cost): 7000 EUR
Local coordinator from the settlement (personnel costs, Bagazs): 7000 EUR
Other costs of the projects (e.g. waste containers, castration of dogs etc.): 12 000 EUR
Communications: 2000 EUR
Travel costs: 1000 EUR