Reform Fund Linked to the
Inclusion of Roma and other Vulnerable Groups
Together for Empowerment, project implemented by the Consortium led by Tdh Switzerland, aims at improving the living conditions of Roma and other vulnerable groups by organising activities in areas such as education, health, community development, housing and economic empowerment. This Activity has ended on 31.03.2019.
zefiR - Together for Empowerment: lnclusion Fund for Roma and other disadvantaged groups.
Consortium is formed by: Terre des Hommes, Switzerland is the lead agency for the project steering; local partners, Roma Centre Amare Rromentza, Împreună Agency for Community Development, PACT - Partnership for Community Action and Transformation, Pestalozzi Foundation Romania, Habitat for Humanity and Sastipen – Roma Centre for Health Policy.
zefiR project is aimed at improving the living conditions of residents from 12 communities from Olt, Dolj and Gorj, through providing support and services in areas such as education, health and community development. Using housing as a transversal component, the project team envisions healthy, better educated and empowered communities whose members work together for achieving local prosperity.
Starting with May 2016, the project team is starting the implementation of the economic empowerment component.
Dolj: Amărăștii de Jos - Ocolna, Filiași, Barca, Negoi;
Gorj: Polovragi, Târgu Cărbunești, Bumbești Jiu, Baia de Fier;
Olt: Grădinari, Caracal, Slatina, Piatra Olt.
Duration of implementation: 01.05.2013 – 31.03.2019
The value of the SDC's co-financing: CHF 4'594'701
Objective 1: Access to Education
Main goal: 1180 children have improved access to quality education services at kindergarten and primary schools and improved homework conditions at home. The project will be focusing on three actors: parents, pupils and teachers.
Objective 2: Health and social assistance
Main goal: to improve access to health and social services of 3000 children aged 6-17 and 700 pregnant and lactating mothers.
Objective 3: Community empowerment
Main goal: 12 empowered communities benefit from improved perception at local, district and national level, enhanced self-esteem, improved problem-solving capabilities and enriched intercommunity dialogue.
Objective 4: Economic empowerment
Main goals: At least 40 people of Roma origin and other vulnerable groups have increased business and entrepreneurial skills in supportive community environments 20 supported income generating activities and individual businesses are efficient and profitable in minimum 5 local communities with a high number of Roma or other vulnerable groups.
Results achieved in 2017
In 2017, due to the successes obtained, it was decided to prolong the contract until March 2019. In this period, the project team has both implemented the foreseen activities until August 2017 and drafted a proposal for the following 19 months. The prolongation was signed in November 2017, focusing on the components: education, heath, community development and economic empowerment (with the exception of housing, which ended in 2017).
- A methodology for managing after-school programmes has been developed and 32 teachers have participated in the training on the above mentioned methodology. 40 specialists in education participated in two sessions to exchange practices and lessons learned concerning the implementation of after-school programmes;
- More than 1000 participations were registered educational and psycho-social activities: 369 children in After School programmes, 88 children in kindergarten, 555 in psychosocial activities, 187 in Aflateen programmes and 278 in health education sessions;
- Parents were also involved: 294 parents participated in parental activities, carried out in 8 project communities from the south of the country. The purpose of these activities was to strengthen the parent-child-teacher relationship, to reduce discrimination and to emphasize the importance of educating all children independently of ethnicity or socio-economic level.
The housing component of the Activity was brought to an end by the finalisation of the reparation of the roof of an apartment block in Caracal, in October 2017.
On the health component, the main result achieved was the complete transfer of the goods and responsibility for the three Community centres (set-up in Slatina, Amărăștii de Jos and Baia de Fier) to the local authorities. 31 health practitioners from 8 social-medical community teams participated in the training programme on how to organise information health campaigns for their communities. At the same time, the EA and partners have signed partnerships with the Olt and Dolj County School Inspectorates for the implementation of the Health Education programme.
Achievements are reported in the community development component as well. In 11 communities, the Local Initiative Groups (LIGs) implemented several actions in partnership with the local authority; the local authorities have financially contributed with a third of the community projects’ costs. The community projects were mainly for building playgrounds, sports fields for children and young people, rehabilitation of kindergartens, building up community centre or connecting the school to the drinking water system. Actions concerning the youth were organised as well; 178 youth participated in the Aflateen groups. The groups are not only improving their financial knowledge, but are also active in their communities and willing to volunteer for the community.
28 initiatives were selected for funding within the economic empowerment component. They were closely supported in order to successfully implement the proposed business plans.
Results achieved in 2016
In 2016, the project was focused on continuing the activities on education and health, improving the capacity and confidence of the Local Initiative Groups (LIGs) and on identifying committed entrepreneurs interested in growing their small business.
Within the education component, 9 communities implemented after-school programmes for 328 children, mostly from primary school, but also from lower secondary education. The commitment of eight local authorities towards the project was financially expressed through local contributions. Besides the after-school programme, psychosocial activities such as fair play events, socio-inclusive events or Joyful Thursday were implemented in all 12 zefiR communities to which 427 children participated. In four kindergartens from Filiași and Grădinari the activities were approached from a multi-cultural perspective, contributing to increasing self-esteem and confidence, as well as collaboration and trust among peers for 177 children. 42 teachers from the project communities participated in trainings on inclusive methods and intercultural education. An exchange of models and learning of intercultural education between teachers was organised in partnership with the House of teachers in Bucharest. The aim is to support the teachers to integrate in their daily work methods which contribute to creating a more inclusive learning setting, so that children become more engaged with the learning process.
On the health component, progress towards reaching institutionalisation of the three Community centres was made. The entire costs for the operability of the community centre in Slatina are overtaken by the local authority, while in Ocolna the personnel costs for the service provision are covered by the commune (Amărăștii de Jos). The third centre is logistically in place and activities will be re-started once the local authority contracts the needed specialists. 30 medical professionals benefited of training in order to use methods that enhance their collaboration with vulnerable groups.
In 2016, the local initiative groups (LIGs) have improved their capacity to access and manage small grants and to implement activities which serve the residents of their locality and contribute to community development. The most important achievement is that, not only the relations with the local authorities improved, but that for 6 initiatives of the groups the authorities financially contributed to the community projects. All groups benefited of support to improve their soft and technical abilities, while groups in five localities decided to formalise their initiatives and set-up NGOs. 3 groups of women were mentored for community participation, while youth groups in 12 localities were involved in Aflateen activities. Aflateen activities represent a method to increase financial responsibility of youth, while developing a participatory attitude as well.
On housing, 273 households were equipped with doors, windows or stoves in Piatra Olt, Filiași, Bârca and Polovragi.
An initial phase of the implementation of the economic empowerment component was to inform small entrepreneurs from 21 communities about the opportunity to access grants in order to grow or establish their business. 42 selected participants took part in an initial training on basic entrepreneurship and started drafting their proposal (a business plan) to access the grants provided for small entrepreneurs.
Results achieved in 2015
Education: 616 children have participated in after-school and Joyful Thursday activities. At the Summer events, fair-play games and social inclusion events took part 572 children from the three counties. From the 180 children targeted by the project, by the end of 2015, 177 kindergarten children part of the project had comparable results at the end of the first grade with the majority of the children of their age (who are not part of the project). 42 teachers were trained in 2015 on intercultural education, while 4 kindergarten educators were trained on intercultural education methods. 36 trainers have increased their knowledge and skills in implementing integrated psychosocial activities. 288 parents participated in events organised especially for them.
Health: In 2015, 1686 children and 183 pregnant and lactating mothers benefitted from the services offered by the socio-medical community centres established since 2014 in Ocolna, Baia de Fier and Slatina. The Community Centres are in progress of being integrated in the structures of the local authorities, ensuring in this way the continuity of the social and medical services in the communities. The Centres offer the following type of services: basic medical services, like consulting and screening; first aid interventions; information campaigns for the prevention and early diagnosing of diseases such as tuberculosis, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer; campaigning for a healthy life style (reproduction, hygiene); medical and social counselling; facilitating access to public social and medical services; monitoring the evolution and registration on the lists of a family physicians of new born children, of pregnant women or lactating mothers; development of medical programmes in accordance with the communities’ needs. The majority of the patients have declared being satisfied by the services provided to a large extent.
Community empowerment: All 12 Local Initiative Groups (LIG) elaborated Local Action Plans (LAPs) and projects for the grants available for them within the project. In 11 communities, projects were implemented by the LIGs. All of them are addressed to improving conditions for children at local level: construction of playgrounds, providing field-trips for school children, or enhancing their abilities through extra-curricular activities. The projects were implemented with support from the local authorities. Except for the projects on education, several other initiatives were implemented in Piatra Olt, where the LIG has successfully advocated for the creation of a crosswalk near the school and for the hiring of a health mediator to serve their community; in Grădinari, where the LIG and the community has improved the flooding prevention infrastructure by digging a ditch; in Baia de Fier, where the LIG has started a health awareness campaign; and in Caracal, where through a project, in which the LIG participated, and with financing from the hospital, two monitors were acquired by the Paediatrics and Neonatology Department of Caracal Hospital. In the communities, in total, 136 members were trained in order to have improved communication skills, entrepreneurial skills, lobby and advocacy skills and in Aflateen methodology. 30 women and 30 youngsters have participated in mentoring activities.
Housing: The needs were identified in all communities with support from the LIGs and local authorities, and project locations were agreed for 5 communities. The first project was the rehabilitation of the roof of a 24 family block in one of the project location. 9 houses in Piatra Olt and 1 kindergarten in Caracal have been renovated.
Results achieved in 2014
Education: 46 teachers are trained and coached in 12 schools; Intercultural preschool teaching is available for 91 children; 270 children take part in afterschool activities; Psychosocial activities offered for 270 children; 120 parents participated in parental support activities.
Health: 3 community resource centres are established; Health promotion activities organized in 12 communities; 12 community dialogues between Roma communities and local authorities established.
Empowerment: 12 community initiatives to solve common problems are set-up (and on-going); Training on leadership for 75 community members took place.