ERGO’s Annual working meeting and exchange visit in Hungary
From 22-24 May our Hungarian members Autonomia Foundation and Pro Cserehat Association organized an exchange visit between the ERGO core members from Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania.
The first day of the visit was dedicated to discussing and exchanging views and practices from our common work conducted under the Annual Work Programme 2017 and to plan ahead. After the meeting, the ERGO members had the chance to visit and learn more about the work conducted by our Hungarian members in the rural areas of Borsod county.
The first visit was organized by Autonomia in the village of Tomor, where the local Roma coordinator László Siroki stressed the challenges that Roma communities are facing due to the reluctance of local authorities to cooperate with Roma. As a good practice example, the local coordinator presented the social enterprise Romama, where several Roma women are employed in a restaurant in an area where 90% of Roma are in the Public Work Program.
The second visit was organized by Pro Cserehat Association who presented their Pro Ratatouille project in Edelény. This community gardening initiative targets disadvantaged communities. The community garden in Edeleny is run by 6 Roma families and proved to be a very successful project for the self-reliance and civic empowerment of Roma.
The meeting and the exchange visit brought up a lot of new information and many practices that the communities and our members can learn from, and was a starting point for new projects together.
ERGO Network Annual Platform Members’ Meeting
ERGO Network brought together people from over 20 organizations and young Roma activists for the Annual Members’ Platform that took place in Brussels on 28 November 2016.
The meeting was opened by Ruus Dijksterhuis, Director of ERGO Network, who shared a short history of the work that was conducted by ERGO and opened a space for the members organizations to present their own work and share their motivation for taking part in the network and its activities.
Then the ERGO members split into small groups to develop a common approach for fulfilling the ERGO Network Strategy. The group work was focused on the questions: What brings members together? What drives them in their work? How can the ERGO Network be strengthened?
During the meeting ERGO was using methods of the participatory leadership methodology. The methods were introduced and facilitated by four young Roma activists who were trained in those methods during the ERGO Summer Academy.
The members agreed that ERGO Network offers its members an effective platform for provision of information and exchange on relevant political and policy developments from the European perspective and from other countries, which can be used at local level. It is a platform for like-minded people. It serves as a source of motivation and inspiration for more effective grassroots work.
ERGO Network for many members represents a strong organization based in Brussels that can bring the grassroots reality to the Brussels fora and advocate for Roma people. Moreover, the members agreed that ERGO needs to keep its focus on network development and engagement of members in the work of the others, because only by working together we can strengthen the voice of Roma.
Update and steps forward: the 3rd meeting of ERGO Members
ERGO Network brought together its co-workers from Romania, Hungary, Czech Republic and Bulgaria for the 3rd working meeting under the Annual Working Program (AWP) 2016 on the 20-21 September in Brussels.
The aim of the meeting was to exchange good practices and challenges that the members are encountering in the work done under the AWP 2016. On the first day, special attention was given to the work that is carried under the contract with ERGO for the Community-Led Local Development (CLLD). The ERGO team facilitated the meeting and helped the members to map out the challenges and together with their partners to find solutions for a better collaboration and implementation of the CLLD on the ground.
Furthermore, special emphasis was given to the Roma coalition building and the ways that those coalitions are being created at the national and regional level. For example in the Czech Republic, the Roma coalition strengthened its position and became a partner for the Roma Coordination Unit. In Romania, the coalition taken over by our partner Nevo Parudimos, Roma Forum, is already in good terms with the National Federation of the Local Action Groups and advocates for the participation of Roma people in Local Action Groups (LAGs).
The most challenging issues concerning the development and participation of Roma people in the CLLD process through the LAGs, identified by our members in all countries, are lack of trust in the NGOS and institutions in charge and the political environment.
On the second day, special focus was put on the methodology and guidance on how our members should carry out their research on Roma beneficiaries of ESF supported projects and prepare their policy papers for the remaining year. The objective of the research is to capture the views of beneficiaries of (training) projects – which is mostly missing from regular project and program evaluations. The research is to provide an indication of the longer term impact of such projects on the individuals taking part as well as give an idea of the quality of the projects.
In addition, the ERGO members were updated with the ongoing work of ERGO at European level and together we planned further steps for the future.