Together for Empowerment: Inclusion Fund for Rroma & other Disadvantaged Groups

The zefiR project aims to improve access to education and health, as main vectors for reducing disparities and enforcing social inclusion, of over 25’000 people belonging to rural communities situated in three counties in the south west of Romania: Dolj, Olt and Gorj. These 12 communities include vulnerable populations who suffer from severe socio-economic deprivations, mainly of Rroma origin. Special focus will be placed on women and children. The project is coordinated by Terre des hommes, in consortium with 4 partner NGOs, amongst which two Rroma organisations. Two other organisations (one Rroma and one non-Rroma) will be providing services. The methodological approach consists in working with the communities in a bottom-up approach, including beneficiaries in all the steps and components of the project. Two of the partners are experts in community development. The others are specialized in thematic areas such as education, health, housing, and all work in close collaboration with relevant national
authorities. The project is conducted around 4 groups of beneficiaries (0-2 years, 3-5 years, 6-17 years old,
and adults amongst which pregnant and lactating women) and three main priorities: 1) access to quality education services, 2) access to quality health services and 3) intercultural dialogue and advocacy.
Results of the project will be measured through achievements obtained in terms of education, health and improvement in living conditions on the 4 groups of beneficiaries, considering their different needs. The sustainability of the project is ensured by the constant participation of the beneficiaries on one hand, and of the public structures in charge of education and health on the other. The Consortium acknowledges that social inclusion is a State responsibility. As nongovernmental organisations, the partners are conscious of the need to work towards the reinforcement of State capacities starting from local State representatives to the central level. It will minimise substitution for “duty-bearers” and work in close partnership with Government agencies at all levels.

Until the end of the project we aim for:

  • 1180 children having an easier access to educational services in kindergarten and primary school and better living conditions at home in order to facilitate working on their homeworks;
  • 3000 children aged 6 to 17 years old and 700 pregnant women having an easier access to quality medical services;
  • 12 communities having an improved image at a local, regional and national level. The members of the communities will improve their self esteem, capacity to solve problems and their availability for an inter-cultural dialogue.

Partner interventions will not be identical for every county, but they will be adapted in order to suit the needs and resources of the local communities. That is why identification and participatory analysis of community needs and resources, involving local institutions and community members are mandatory conditions for the success of the project.

A purposeful partnership has been developed through 2011 and
2012, with all partners sharing a strong commitment towards community development, social
inclusion of Rroma, other minorities, vulnerable groups of non-minorities, and to the principle of explicit but non-exclusive targeting of Rroma. The partnership has reaffirmed the importance of inclusion of children and women in particular and formally endorsed the ten Common Basic Principles on Roma Inclusion1 under which this Consortium will operate.

Lead applicant: Terre des hommes Switzerland Foundation envisions a world in which children grow up with dignity and where they can develops in an environment that protects and participates in fulfilling needs and rights.

Terre des hommes Romania has been active in Romania since 1992, making an important contribution to improving child protection, social welfare reform by conducting psychosocial activities with children, promoting social inclusion, child participation and community development. Areas of activity include programs focused on prevention, education, anti-trafficking, strengthening the child protection system at local and national level.

In order to achieve its goal and objectives, Tdh’s activities have been mainly focused on: (a) Direct assistance to children and families in worst forms of distress and abuse; and (b) Serving as a child rights ambassador towards government, community structures and other duty bearers and assisting in the development of appropriate institutional child protection mechanism.

Roma Center Amare Rromentza is non-governmental, apolitical, and a non-profit association with 12 year experience working with the Rroma in a sustainable way. Its objectives are to prevent and
fight all forms of discrimination against the Rroma; to protect the fundamental rights of minorities; to facilitate access of Rroma people to civic, economic, social, cultural and political rights; to
ensure the economic development of the Rroma communities; Reconstruction of the specific institutional systems, through which strategies of individual and community assertion will be
applied; Assertion of Rroma elite, creator of referential models: the identity reconstruction and increasing of the self-esteem of Rroma; Promoting and supporting a multicultural society and
intercultural dialogue; Promoting public policies for the benefit of Rroma, including affirmative measures; Development of Rroma as a non-territorial nation in the European context. Established
in 2000, Amare Rromentza has a staff of 17 professionals, and represents the reference point in Romania regarding the Rroma culture and bi-lingual education for early childhood.

Impreuna Agency for Community Development has 13 years of experience working with the Rroma. The organisation was established as a legal entity on 24 September 1999 under Court
Ruling 93 of Brasov County Court. The Agency’s mission is to preserve and assert Rroma identity through research and the dissemination of studies, as well as through the elaboration and
implementation of social policies aimed at the Rroma. Main objectives include developing Rroma communities and development processes, in the context of civil, social, political and economic rights; Developing cooperation and partnership with national and international public or private associations specialised in the research and implementation of social programs targeting the Rroma. Areas of activity include community development (Research, Training human resources, Project management), cross-border cooperation (culture, healthcare, education) and Grants (housing, monitoring, and evaluation). The Agency employs 15 professionals, and is nationally and internationally known for its large scale, integrative projects, focused on community development and empowerment of Rroma.

PACT Foundation – Partnership for Community Action and Transformation is a non-governmental not-for-profit organization that is active in the fields of community development and social economy. PACT was registered in March 2006 under the Law no. 246/2005 in approval of Ordinance no. 26/2000 regarding associations and foundations. The foundation’s office is in Bucharest and it runs activities (local development programs and projects) in rural and small to medium-sized urban localities in South Romania (South-Muntenia and South-West Oltenia regions). PACT team has a wide experience in supporting civil society in South Romania – facilitating the establishment of new community groups and organizations since October 2002. PACT Foundation uses a complex methodology of training, facilitation, consultancy and seedfunding (small non-reimbursable grants). The foundation runs fundraising campaigns with the aim to finance small community projects submitted by the community-based organizations or informal initiative groups that participate in PACT’s programs. PACT is presently collaborating with 45 community-based organisations and has substantial experience working with Rroma communities. PACT runs projects country-wide, focusing on grassroots community development, participation  and empowerment, with a staff of 22 professionals.

The vision of Pestalozzi Romania Foundation is a world of dignity, self-knowledge, respect for others and solidarity for all. Pestalozzi Foundation’s mission is to initiate, develop and promote
programmes and services to meet the needs of people in difficulty based on the principles of social work. Principles include: Non-discrimination and Equal Opportunities, Family Environment
for any person, Community Involvement, Partnership, Quality, Social Pedagogy. To successfully put into practice these ideas, Pestalozzi Foundation has sought to engage both in adult education
through training sessions and training and in working directly with disadvantaged children including Rroma through concrete activities. Activities include direct-intervention projects for disadvantaged people, social groups in risk of marginalization and discrimination; Intercultural education, training, consulting, direct services; Training and coaching for public institutions, schools, colleges, universities; Consulting on human resources development, personnel evaluation, identification of training needs, Consulting and facilitation in community development; Vocational training for adults education. Pestalozzi Foundation was established in 1994 by Swiss Kinderdorf Pestalozzi. It runs projects related to child protection, social pedagogy, and intercultural education, with a staff of 12 professionals in Romania. Pestalozzi Foundation has 14 years of experience working with the Rroma.

Habitat for Humanity – Habitat has built and renovated more than 500,000 homes around the world, providing more than 2.5 million people with safe, decent, affordable shelter. Habitat was founded in
1976 by Millard Fuller along with his wife, Linda. Through volunteer labour and donations of money and materials, Habitat builds and rehabilitates simple, decent houses with the help of the homeowner
families. Habitat houses are then sold to partner families at no profit and financed with affordable loans. The homeowners’ monthly mortgage payments go into a Revolving Fund that is used to build or renovate still more Habitat houses. In addition to a down payment and the monthly mortgage payments, homeowners invest hundreds of hours of their own labour—sweat equity—into building their Habitat home and the homes of others. Habitat for Humanity works in more than 90 countries and more than 3,000 communities worldwide. Local affiliates or community groups are supported by national, regional and area offices which provide training, information resources and oversight. In Europe and Central Asia, Habitat works in 23 countries, building and repairing homes, offering microcredit home-improvement loan, improving water and sanitation, working on disaster response and advocating for affordable housing, all with families in need. In this region Habitat has served more than 17,000 families to date together with volunteers and homeowners. Habitat’s Europe and Central
Asia regional headquarters is based in Bratislava, Slovakia.
In Romania, HFH has served more than 3900 families. According to the national statistics, 35 percent of the housing stock in Romania is in a state of complete neglect and needs urgent repairs. Progress
toward a stable market economy has been slow and difficult after years of the oppressive rule of dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. Real wages for working Romanian families have dropped by about 40
percent, putting additional pressure on the strained social system. The unemployed, farmers and housewives are the social categories most affected by severe poverty. Two-thirds of Romania’s poor
live in rural areas. Since 2005, Romania has faced its worst floods in the past 100 years. The summers of 2008 and 2010
brought new floods in the country, leaving thousands of people in temporary shelters. Habitat Romania acts as a catalyst for improving housing conditions and offering support, expertise
and experience to various groups and parties. The organization has taken leadership on tackling repairs, renovations and rehabilitation of old communist-era block apartments and disaster response
projects. Habitat for Humanity Romania is actively working to provide simple and decent shelter for vulnerable groups such as the Roma, the mentally disabled and former orphans raised in state-run institutions. These groups are marginalized in society and have no access to funds to improve their housing situations.

Roma Center for Health Policies SASTIPEN is a nongovernmental organization founded in August 2007, having experience in implementing projects/programs addressed to communities which are subjected to the risk of social exclusion, focusing on Roma. The projects implemented by SASTIPEN until now have addressed to both communities from rural and urban areas, targeting, on one side, to develop strategic tools on integrated approach of the community issues at local level, and on the other side, to carry out lobby and advocacy activities in order to implement policies for improving the
situation of vulnerable groups. The specific experience of the organization is based on implementing concerted lobby and advocacy actions which lead to creating strategic partnerships on long-term with various local and central authorities in the rural and urban areas, in order to implement inclusion policies for the members of vulnerable communities, focusing on Roma, being based on an integrated and comprehensive approach, with the direct involvement of the members of local communities.
Also, Roma Center for Health Policies SASTIPEN is experienced in implementing awareness campaigns on various specific themes which affect local rural communities, as well as founding
working groups at local level, as a method of integrated approach of the issues which the vulnerable communities are confronting with. Regarding the organization’s experience on projects relevant to the
domain of founding Community Centres, starting 2009, SASTIPEN has created 19 community centres which would lead to an integrated approach of the issues that vulnerable groups are confronting with, both in the urban and rural areas. Thus, in the urban areas there have been founded 2 Centres for Medico-Social Assistance which ensure services for socio-sanitary mediation and primary medical assistance for the members of the targeted communities. In the rural area there have been created 15
Community Resource Centres which are created in partnership with local authorities, ensuring two types of services: integrated services which would contribute in improving the health status and raising
the motivation for an active participation on the labour market, as well as individual counselling, training and assistance programs for starting entrepreneurial activities, oriented on the labour market.
Also in the rural area, there have been developed 2 Community Educational Centres which would ensure integrated services for remedial education, as a practical tool for preventing school drop-out amongst Roma and increasing the employment opportunities for Roma on long-term. SASTIPEN organization is experienced in relation with local/county/central authorities. Through the
projects and actions implemented at local level, the organization has developed mixed commissions at local level, composed by both representatives of local authorities, as well as representatives of Roma communities, commissions which have developed intervention strategies in communities which are facing difficulties and are exposed to the risk of social exclusion.

Fundatia Terre des hommes Elvetia