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Active Roma youth engagement through EVS
Start date: Feb 20, 2015, End date: May 20, 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

This long-term EVS project aimed to strengthen the international scope of the work of Roma Youth Centre as well as providing a complex and sustainable learning opportunity for Roma and non-Roma youth in Macedonia and Portugal by involving 2 Portuguese volunteers in the activities of RYC. The question of Roma inclusion as the core of the work of RYC has a strongly European dimension and is directly connected to the promotion of the core European values of cultural diversity, social solidarity, human rights and combating racism. By involving international volunteers in the work with youngsters with fewer opportunities in Macedonia we aimed to contribute to raising awareness of the mentioned values among young Europeans and at the same time bring the European experience and perspective to the local level. Both internationals and locals will benefit from this intercultural experience and together develop their self-esteem and ability of self-empowerment by experiencing active citizenship through their common engagement. The project invited 2 volunteers from Portugal to participate in the activities of RYC during 300 days. The volunteers were able to develop their personal, social and professional skills through non-formal and in-formal learning by being mentored and supervised, had the possibility to accompany, observe and support their colleagues and local peers during their work and activities and finally through creating and realizing their own projects (learning-by-doing). Context/Needs In Macedonia and in other European countries the Roma minority belongs to the most vulnerable groups of society, often being subjected to social and spatial segregation and explicit or implicit discrimination. Especially Roma youth face strong marginalization, hardly having a voice in public decisions in or out of their communities while often living under precarious conditions regarding housing, education and employment. More successful youngsters are confronted with persisting stereotypes and discrimination in educational structures and on the labour market. Feeling forced to deny their identity they do not invest their capacity for their community. Roma Youth Centre aims to give Roma and non-Roma youth in Macedonia and beyond a stronger voice by supporting structures of self-organization and capacity building among youngsters. The participation of international volunteers in this work challenged the marginalization by bringing together different social and cultural realities and enhances the visibility of Roma issues in a European context. Aim This project aimed to fight stereotypes and discrimination of Roma people, strengthen social inclusion of Roma and Non-Roma youth in Macedonia and Europe and provide international volunteers as well as local Roma and Non-Roma youngsters with the opportunity to enhance their intercultural awareness, self-perception as active European citizens as well as their personal and professional skills. Objectives - Provide learning and service opportunities which enable the acquisition of key competences by international volunteers, such as civic and social skills, team work, self-initiative, responsibility, linguistic and self-organization skills by experiencing themselves as active members of a professional working team in a foreign country - Provide volunteers with strategies and tools for engaging for social inclusion and against discrimination and enable those to develop and execute their own project to raise their skills of entrepreneurship and their self-perception as active citizen - Enhance the dialogue between young Roma and non-Roma in order to challenge stereotypes and racism by bringing together international volunteers with Macedonian Roma and Non-Roma youth to work together in developing projects of youth empowerment and against discrimination - Strengthen intercultural awareness and competences of international volunteers and locals by working together in an international team - Promoting knowledge about situation of Roma minority in Macedonia and contribute to visibility of marginalized communities on European level by involving international volunteers.

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