BiH: Roma activists’ work recognised & supported by the EU

BiH: Roma activists’ work recognised & supported by the EU

Young Roma activists in BiH carried out initiatives that have improved life in their local communities and these efforts are recognised by the European Union that decided to support the actions of various NGOs through the Active Roma Youth for Rights and Inclusion Project with € 350 000.

One of projects reflects the desire of a group of Roma youth from the Tuzla settlement of Kiseljak to learn more about their history and heritage so they decided to clean a local cemetery. As it was announced by the EU Delegation to BiH, 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 young activist from the association “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 of the village and is a real picture of us and our settlement. One oughts 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 to 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 planned 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.

Recently, the EU organised the ceremony to hand out the six 500 Euros vouchers for a same number of new projects. Deputy Head of the EU Delegation to BiH Khaldoun Sinno said that the European Union counts on the youth in BiH.

“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 towards 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…/ΙΒΝΑ