A new project – a new challenge to make a difference in rural minority communities

A new project – a new challenge to make a difference in rural minority communities

On February 23, 2018, “Sustainable community partnerships to support the rights of persons belonging to minorities in Moldova” project was launched. The project is implemented by Terre des hommes Moldova (Tdh) in partnership with the Institute for Rural Initiatives (iRi) with the financial support of the European Union and support of Ministry of Education, Culture and Research from Moldova.

Through this project iRi and Tdh Moldova aim to achieve real changes in combating discrimination against ethnic minorities coming from 20 communities from 15 rayons of Moldova and holistic empowerment of all 20 communities’ residents. Simultaneously, the project aims at strengthening the role of the school in educating and promoting tolerance, diversity and social inclusion; ensuring the interethnic dialogue among community members; mobilizing ethnic minorities representatives to take an active role in eradication of stereotypes and to stand up for their rights; empowering communities to facilitate the ethnic minorities’ access to local protection systems.

Among major challenges listed by representatives of the project partner communities who attended the launch event were: lack of tolerance, obsolete thinking especially among the elder generations, persistence of stereotypes within minority groups, migration, and lack of initiative and trust of the community members. At the same time, they emphasized the need for such a project in their communities and expressed the hope that after two years of project implementation things will evolve for the better.

“We will try to offer our full support, encouragement and strengthen the spirit of community mobilization, improving the situation in the fields of discrimination and integration in all 20 communities of the project. We also hope that this project will create a working model of integration of children with different backgrounds, a model to be replicated at both local and national levels,” stated Ruslan Stanga, Executive Director of the Institute for Rural Initiatives.

“You took the responsibility to combat discrimination in your communities, to promote inclusiveness and tolerance. Moreover, you are aware that this responsibility lies not only with the national authorities but belongs to each community. We are honored to work with you,” concluded Ludmila Ungureanu, Director of Tdh Moldova. Terre des Hommes and the Institute for Rural Initiatives do not come from empty grounds in this collaboration, both organizations having extensive experience in the field of human rights in general and minority rights in particular.

Viorelia Moldovan-Batrinac, Senior State Adviser to the Prime Minister on social policies, who attended the event, expressed her support for the launching of such a project aimed at protecting the rights of minorities, especially of the Roma in Moldova, stressing that integration issues of Roma are not exclusively the problems of the community but also imply promoting tolerance in the society in general. “I am glad that this project aims, first of all, to educate tolerance, it should be taught and cultivated starting at a young age. Therefore you can count on our support in this endeavour.” Mrs. Moldovan-Batrinac expressed her appreciation for the innovative method – the social theater chosen by the project implementation team as a tool of promotion tolerance and inclusion. “I want to emphasize and appreciate the innovative and unusual approach that will be used – the social theater, which will promote both collaboration between children of different ethnicities and community-wide collaboration, and this, I believe, is the main element of change.”

Deputy Head of the EU Delegation in Moldova projects section Marco Gemmer, also emphasized the importance of teaching tolerance to children. “We are aware that the phenomenon of discrimination is still present and our common task is to prevent it. We know that it is difficult to change the mentality of the elderly, but we have the opportunity to change the young people’s one, so they become promoters of the change. That is why the concept of the project is to work with schools, community mediators, go in the field and see what is needed to be done in the future.” Marco Gemmer encouraged community representatives, at the end of the project, to assess whether it was successful and achieved its goals.

As a next step of the project, a consultation process with professionals, parents and children from these communities will be conducted in order to evaluate their knowledge, attitudes and practices on social cohesion, diversity and tolerance. Based on the survey results, the methodologies, programmes and learning materials that will be further used in the project will be designed.

Developing a training programme for teachers who will work with children and parents, and a social theatre pilot-programme for pupils; setting up a network of at least 200 children who will act as agents of change and contribute to promoting tolerance, diversity and inclusion by using the social theatre methodology; establishing an Academy for young leaders which will promote human rights through social activism; and providing small grants – these are some of the activities that Tdh Moldova aims to develop along with iRi in the selected beneficiary communities.

Tdh Moldova and iRi will develop the programmes and learning materials in cooperation with Ministry of Education, Culture and Research and the good practices of the project will be presented to the Ministry for scaling up at national level.