The Lozenets neighbourhood of Stara Zagora is a segregated area populated mainly by Roma. The voice of the people living there is rarely heard even in matters concerning their daily lives. Through the power of photography we will start a cross-cultural dialogue. We will invite young people from all over the city to explore the neighbourhood. We will help learn about each other. We will give them the opportunity to work together towards a common goal.
The project will take place in Lozenets neighbourhood of Stara Zagora, Central Bulgaria
The specific challenge that we want to address is that the people of the Roma neighbourhood are often marginalized based on their minority background and to a large extend excluded from the life of the civil society in the city. The anti Roma dispositions are not rare among the young people who often fall victims to stereotypes.
On one hand we want to challenge the Roma youth to be proactive and to engage in the life of the community in a meaningful way. On the other hand we would like to give the young people from other parts of the city the opportunity to get to know them. To learn about their life and build bridges through art and through solving a community problem together. We believe that we can change the peoples’ minds in a positive way.
We will be working directly with two groups of young people:
- 20 young people (Bulgarian, Turkish, Roma) from Lozenets neighbourhood;
- 20 young people who live outside the neighbourhood in other parts of the city;
- 5 journalists who will work with the young people;
- the general population who will be involved indirectly in the project, relatives and friends of the people involved. ;
- local NGOs who normally don’t work in the community, local authorities, prominent citizens, role models, etc.
The steps that we will take to implement our idea:
1. We will identify natural leaders recognized within the Roma community;
2. We will form two groups of up to 10 people each;
3. We will provide them training in leadership skills – through case studies, role-play, teambuilding and other techniques we will teach them how to work in a team, how to reach consensus, how to debate, etc. We will also teach them who are responsible for what at local level and where to address their request, petitions, and etc. We will provide them with the tools to influence the authorities;
4. The two groups will begin their regular meetings for which we will provide facilitation;
5. Each group will identify a problem relevant to the community and engage other people to seek for a solution;
6. Each group will develop their own step-by-step plan to solve the problem;
7. They will carry out an advocacy campaign – they will develop their own communication tools – i.e. video, posters, brochures, happenings, etc.
8. They will seek the cooperation of other interested parties – the ombudsman, the education authorities, etc.;
9. They will create a facebook group of the neighbourhood. A model that is successfully used by other communities to communicate with the authorities. It will be used for sharing, discussions and seeking support on a broader scale.
At the end of our project we'll have two groups of people who are prepared to engage others in conversations about their vision, hopes, and future of the community. To be able to debate, to discuss problems and to have the tools to communicate them with the authorities. To be able to seek and receive support from other interested parties.
They will have successfully carried out two advocacy campaigns and solved issues relevant to the community. These activities will empower and encourage them. They’ll know they can make a positive change in their lives by being active citizens and taking action.
They will have a social media group which will give them a fast way of communication. It will be used for discussing issues, seeking solutions, for calling out meetings and for reporting results
Our goal is to help community members get actively involved in solving issues in their local community in order to improve their quality of life. We want to provide them with the tools to be able to influence the decisions of the local authorities and decision makers. In order to do that we will use the means of civic education. We will provide them with knowledge about the structure of the local government and how to interact with it in order to be able to influence its decisions. We will teach them how to debate – how to express their ideas in a way that will engage others. How to use the tools of democracy – petitions, requests, letters, etc.
Both organizations are working in the area of community development. We believe that for a community to thrive and live better then all of its parts should also thrive and be equally developed. Recently we have worked on several projects within the Roma community. We believe that this project is the natural step to move our work on the next level and to help the citizens help themselves.
Gancho Iliev is a founder of World Without Borders. His own mission for the community it to help the young people learn and grow in order to become active citizens, who are equally accepted in society.
Daniela Dimova and Katya Dyankova have a long history of working in the organization whose goal is to support civic initiatives for solving local problems. They believe in the power of communities.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
Experts/Employment costs: 26500 €
Office and administrative costs: 3200 €
Costs of education, meetings, materials: 4300 €
Advocacy campaigns 1000 €
We would be happy to receive advice and suggestions concerning informal innovative strategies to engage citizens in participatory democracy practices in order to achieve social inclusion and empowerment of disadvantaged groups.