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Volunteering for change
Start date: Aug 1, 2015, End date: Jul 31, 2017 PROJECT  FINISHED 

This long-term EVS project aims to strengthen the diversity of the work of ERGO Network as well as providing a complex and sustainable learning opportunity for Roma and non-Roma youth in Belgium and Europe by involving international volunteers in the activities of the organisation. The question of Roma inclusion as the core of the work of ERGO Network 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 young people with fewer opportunities in Belgium, especially in Brussels, we aim 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. Context/Needs All around Europe 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 young people 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 young people 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. ERGO Network aims to give Roma people and to Roma youth a stronger voice by supporting structures of self-organization and capacity building. The participation of international volunteers in this work challenges the marginalization by bringing together different social and cultural realities and enhances the visibility of Roma issues in a European context. Aim This project aims to fight stereotypes and discrimination of Roma people, strengthen social inclusion of Roma and non-Roma youth in Belgium and Europe and provide international volunteers as well as local Roma and non-Roma young people with the opportunity to enhance their intercultural awareness, self-perception as active European citizens as well as their personal and professional skills. the project also address the European dimension of social inclusion and anti-discrimination policies as well as specific European policies addressing Roma as for example the European Roma Framework and the National Roma Integration Strategies. 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 an professional working team in a foreign country - Provide volunteers with strategies and tools for engaging for social inclusion and against discrimination and enable them to develop and execute 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 national and international volunteers - 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 Belgium and across Europe and contribute to visibility of marginalized communities at European level by involving international volunteers - Strengthen the link between the work of the involved partner organisations from different countries - Develop the volunteers knowledge about the functioning of EU institutions, the role of national and European civil society organisations and the policies addressing Roma, social inclusion and anti-discrimination.

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