"In Hungary, Gypsies have not been able to assert themselves in the past, nor in the present" (Péter Szuhay) We want the future to be different! Community advocacy can be achieved in segregated neighborhoods, but it requires informed community leaders and a good knowledge of the tools of organizing and lobbying. Training 20-30 organizers in a region at the same time gives the opportunity to link small, emerging struggles and build a county-level representation of Roma communities.
Those disadvantaged Roma people, who have the poorest advocacy skills, and who are often discriminated, do not have access to the resources and development programs that are available to the rest of the community. Any development that excludes the poorest deepens social inequalities and strengthens conflicts.
We are looking for community leaders active in small villages and segregated neighborhoods in Borsod County, people who work for NGOs, people who initiate self-organizing groups, or just active local people who are doing something for their community with their own ideas. We want to improve the situation of families in marginalized situations that they can reach and mobilize. Roma communities in North-East Hungary are the largest in number and live in the most difficult conditions, lacking social prospects, scarce resources, lacking social contacts, and trapped in poverty for generations. They are shunned by mainstream society and subjected to contempt and racist attacks.
An important guiding principle of our programme is horizontality - this is how we choose the tools and methods we use in decision-making, teamwork and organisation. We have learnt and adopted many ideas from deliberative methods of social participation, the forum theatre approach and participatory action research methodologies. A team of 5 professionals coordinates the programme. They carry out field visits in the villages, collect information from the social environment, set up and deliver the training sessions. They will also organise a county network of actors from the field. This preparatory networking phase will last from October to March. To coincide with the start of the election period, an infographic exhibition, a forum and a large rally will be organised in Miskolc. This is a three-day complex event that will provide a framework for meetings with political actors and awareness-raising programs, as well as helping to broaden the circle of contacts in the region. The information gathered and extracted during the preparatory phase will be used to meet the local candidates in person. The county network, made up of 9-12 participants, develops and implements community programmes and campaigns to bring families living in local communities into public life.
In the long run, an active organizing group (drive) which, through a jointly defined strategy, will be able to shape the public life of the region, and mediate the interests of the various Roma and other marginalized social groups living in the region. This group can build a bridge through which the urban Roma and Romungro intellectuals can effectively support the self-organization attempts of the Roma or mixed-ethnic communities in the segregated areas. Better organized Roma communities are able to respond to the racist attacks. As a result of the program, we expect positive interest from various political actors who have a dominant role in the political arena of the region and who have previously ignored or thought in a negative way about Roma communities.
The aim of the program is to give families living in peripheral areas the tools to express their needs and interests. To reach this goal, they are supported by a circle of community organizing experts. Storytelling, letter-writing campaigns, and representative candidate forums are modern, effective, and democratic techniques, that can help these groups reach change of local conditions and shape their social environment. In order to generate community responses to the social and economic challenges, effective individual and group participation in decision-making must be ensured. The work of local institutions must be shaped and monitored by local citizens. We work with organizations and groups that can mobilize local communities to achieve these changes.
Zsanett Bitó-Balogh was born in Nagykálló, where she has been working as a community organizer for three years. It is through this methodology that she has been able to fulfill her potential. Norbert Bitó is from Borsod County. He couldn't stand to watch local children rummaged through the rubbish bins looking for food. That's why he became a community organizer. Jozsef Radics has been to many places in the world. When he talks to his grandson who lives in Canada, he always hears the confidence in his voice. He is fighting for his other grandchildren at home to be as confident. Fruzsina Balogh dances gypsy dance she feels light and the world is spinning with. As an activist, it feels similarly good to turn the world upside down. Horváth-Kertész Balázs is the mentor for our Roma programs.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
Project management and coordination 17000 EUR
Local coordination 5800 EUR
Project administration 4900 EUR
Professional events 2000 EUR
Training costs 2300 EUR
Community events 1200 EUR
Communication (web, video, graphic) 800 EUR
Overhead 1000 EUR
We did find several programs in the Civic Europe idea space and among the implemented projects, from whom it would be helpful to get feedback because they have a lot of experience in making the voices of Roma communities heard. It would also be important to have cross-border exchanges of experiences