Young Roma activists from all over the country carried out initiatives that have improved life in their local communities. The European Union supported these initiatives of various NGOs through Active Roma Youth for Rights and Inclusion Project with € 350,000.
The desire of a group of Roma youth from the Tuzla settlement of Kiseljak to learn more about their history and heritage led them to cleaning a local cemetery. This story proves that good results do not require conferences or fancy words. It is enough to have an idea, the desire to put it into action, and support from the community.
Denis Mujić, a youth activist from the association of Roma women Bolja budućnost (Better Future), recounts how the idea to restore and clean up the local Roma cemetery in Kiseljak came to life.
“We wanted to know a bit more about our history and heritage, as well as our language. That’s why we spoke with an elderly Roma in our town. His stories inspired us to start restoring our cemetery which is located at the very entrance to the village and is a real picture of us and our settlement. One ought to know there are five Roma associations in our village alone. We sat down with representatives of all those organisations and told them: ‘Let’s do something together.’ We managed to persuade them and through them motivate the entire community”, said Denis.
They have managed to get five local Roma associations together and started with € 150 ending up with 3,000 for the implementation of the initiative.
This is just one of the 30 initiatives undertaken within the Active Roma Youth for Rights and Inclusion Project. All of them were created and realised by young people who managed to stimulate their peers in the local communities to get involved.
The initiatives were carried out in Tuzla, Bijeljina, Donji Vakuf, Vitez, Prnjavor, Travnik, Fojnica, Bosanska Krupa and Vukosavlje.
Young activists have helped repair houses of the most vulnerable families and renovate playgrounds. Several infrastructure projects have been implemented, and humanitarian aid campaigns have also been organised.
A number of women, victims of domestic violence, have been taught to produce handmade objects and thus assisted in providing a means of support. Several training workshops have been held to point out the problems of addiction, importance of education, etc.
Deputy Head of the EU Delegation to BiH Khaldoun Sinno handed out six 500-euro vouchers for six new projects on 27 February.
“The European Union counts on you, the youth. I know the life of young people in general is not easy and it is even harder for some in the population who find themselves in a difficult position. Through political action we continue to show that the Roma population needs support. However, apart from the political action, it is necessary to carry out initiatives in the field too. We expect you to keep working to that end, since it is exactly the local community that changes should come from,” Sinno underlined.
Fixing the road to a local cooperative in Tuzla, renovating Roma family houses in Donji Vakuf and Bijeljina, buying sports equipment and building a football pitch in the Roma neighbourhood in Vitez, organising a football tournament in Travnik, and reconstructing a youth association building in Prnjavor are the initiatives whose future implementation has been supported with 500 euros each.
The partners and implementing agencies on the Active Roma Youth for Rights and Inclusion Project are CARE International Balkans in cooperation with the local associations gathering Roma population Bolja budućnost from Tuzla and Otaharin from Bijeljina.