Thirty young Roma men and women selected at a public competition are currently undergoing a three-month training to acquire knowledge and skills after which they will be engaged at local governmental or non-governmental institutions. The training is organized by UNDP, UNHCR and United Nations Volunteers (UNV) in Serbia to assist participants in influencing social and political processes in cities and municipalities in which they live and contribute to better social inclusion of Roma.
Nineteen-year-old Anabela is a law student, a volunteer at a non-governmental organization, an educator on prevention of peer violence and gender equality, and a future lawyer or judge, she hopes.
Anabela is also the youngest participant in this training. She sees it as an opportunity to satisfy her numerous interests and the curious mind always searching for personal growth and a chance to match theoretical knowledge with practical experience. But there is another reason she applied for the training - she herself would like to contribute to the necessary changes in society so that every person living in the territory of her city has the same rights and so that timely and adequate assistance is available for everyone.
To achieve this goal, Anabela believes that it is necessary that members of the Roma national minority be more represented among the employees in local institutions.
"Roma people often face prejudice and discrimination in Niš, even in institutions this sometimes may be the case. I believe it would be of great help for Roma people who do not understand an employee working at an institution, to be able to contact a person who speaks the Romany language and who can facilitate communication. I think it would help ensure that no single mother or victim of domestic violence of Roma nationality in Niš is deprived of assistance due to misunderstanding or prejudice," says Anabela.
The number of Roma living in the City of Niš according to the census is 6,996, but NGOs estimate that the number is 25,000.
Anabela and other young Roma men and women are learning about human rights, discrimination, legally invisible persons, access to rights for vulnerable groups and local mechanisms for social inclusion. Once they complete the training, the participants will be engaged at one of the local institutions in 30 municipalities in Serbia.
This way they will have the opportunity to get involved in social and political processes in their municipalities and to be ambassadors of the interest of the Roma community at the local level in cooperation with various stakeholders - so that no Roma is left behind.
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