Reform Fund Linked to the
Inclusion of Roma and other Vulnerable Groups

Caritas Consortium

Improvement of the living conditions of Roma and Romanians in socially difficult living conditions in the region of Satu Mare and Maramureș is a project implemented by a Consortium led by Caritas Switzerland and aims to improve the living conditions of Roma and other vulnerable groups by organising activities in areas such as education, health and community development.

The project entitled "Improvement of the living conditions of Roma and Romanians in socially difficult living conditions in the region of Satu Mare and Maramures" is a project implemented by Caritas Satu Mare in partnership with CRCR Foundation (Resource Center for Roma Communities) in Cluj Napoca. The project aims at a sustainable improvement of the living conditions and future perspectives of beneficiaries through facilitating access to health and education. Caritas will work through three faz centers in Ardud, Baia Mare and Turulung.

Localities

Maramureş: Baia Mare, neighbourhoods Craica and Tudor Arghezi;
Satu Mare: Turulung, Ardud.

After the 2016 extension, the community development and/or early education components are implemented in new localities such as:

Satu Mare: Micula, Rătești, Ghirișa, Acâș, Mihaieni, Tiream, Odoreu, Săcășeni, Tășnad, Sărăuad, Lazuri, Hrip, Livada, Poiana Codrului, Sanislău, Vetiș, Oar, Peleș, Pelișor
Maramureș: Baia Mare (Cuprom and Horea Roma communities)

Objectives

1. Roma from Ardud, Turulung and Baia Mare (Craica and Vasile Alecsandri neighbourhoods) have increased access to education and as a consequence to the regular job market.

2. Reduction of the vulnerability concerning health risks of members of Roma communities in Ardud, Baia Mare and Turulung.

3. The quality of education and health programs for the members of the three project communities is improved and the knowledge on best practices ensured.

The project has a duration of 5 and 1/2 years and the total Swiss contribution amounts to maximum CHF 3,072,388.

Results achieved in 2016

In 2016, the implementation strategy focused on two priorities: (1) Further improvement of the quality of services and programs offered by the project by (a) developing the educational approach for children and adults and (b) improvements in the health component e.g. through the introduction of new monitoring instruments such as the data base about vaccinations of children and the monitoring sheet for pregnant women and (2) Collaboration with public stakeholders to improve public services and to reduce the marginalization of Roma in public sectors like education, health and administration. The activities to this end included support to state institutions (e.g. training, direct participation of staff in activities) but also lobbying and advocacy activities, in particular at the local level, e.g. through regular dialogue, cooperation and coordination with mayors and their offices and other branches of local administration.

On education, the project team further improved the educational situation in the three project communities (Ardud, Turulung and Craica, Baia Mare), as more community members of all age groups (from pre-school to vocational training) participated in formal and informal education. On average, 85% of the children aged 4 and 14 have enrolled in the school year 2016-2017. In the localities of the project, school attendance reached an average of approximately 90% in the winter semester of 2016. It constantly increased since the summer semester of the academic year 2013-2014. Adults from one project location were interested and participated in Second Change programmes. At the same time, the quality of education has improved as a result of (a) trainings with the teachers and (b) the methodologies implemented in the extracurricular programmes focused on supporting the children to learn.

The education component has an employment dimension included. Despite the fact that the activities started later in 2016, the project team successfully supported 28 persons to gain employment by providing job mediation.

On health component, the project team noticed a lack of access to vaccines. Even though families were interested to have the vaccines, especially in the first part they weren’t found on the market. The delay was partially recovered, where still possible, in the second part of 2016 and in 2017. 90% of all the pregnant women in the three project localities were supported by the project before and after birth, based on their approval to receive this type of support. On average, 86% of the population in the project communities is registered to family doctors, even though some of them don’t have medical insurance (the numbers are changing as a result of on-going migration and employment opportunities). 150 persons improved their knowledge regarding health, nutrition, hygiene and home security issues. 30% of the Roma communities participated in trainings regarding the risks of transmissible disease and how manage them.

On community development, 25 persons in the three localities are active in the local action groups. The groups are participating in activities at a different pace, depending on the needs of the communities and the social capital available. One of the most important successes from 2016 is that 60 families in one community are now connected to the water system in the locality, as they have previously lacked the facility. Among the activities implemented in 2016 we mention cleaning campaigns, extension of the electricity network, rehabilitation of infrastructure, planting trees, and organising events to enjoy time spent together.

Results achieved in 2015

Education: 125 children benefited from kindergarten activities, and 253 children were enrolled to after-school classes.

Health: Access to health services has been improved for the members of all three project communities. Over 240 individual counselling sessions were offered. About 60 women were accompanied to medical specialist in order to prevent specific diseases and 42 pregnant women were monitored by a physician and health mediator. 31 new born were monitored by medical assistant and health mediator; all children attending the centres are checked regularly for health problems.

Empowerment: Groups have been formed in all three project locations;. Issues that have been addressed during the work of the groups were: the electricity system has been extended into the Roma community and there is public light on the main streets in one community, families now having the possibility to sign contracts with the electricity provider in order to have electricity in their houses; 9 access bridges have been repaired in another community; the group undertook efforts to clean the riverbanks of a nearby river and build sidewalks for the third community.

Results achieved in 2014

Education: 114 children benefited from kindergarten activities and 200 school children of after-school programmes

Health: 2 health mediators trained in two localities.

Community development: 2 initiative groups with a total of 18 members out of formal and informal leaders created, the process is ongoing in another community.