Amalipe Center for Interethnic Dialogue and Tolerance is a leading Roma organization working for the equal integration of Roma in Bulgarian society. The organization plays a central role in organizing the Roma civic movement and implements advocacy activities for Roma integration in front of state institutions. Amalipe Center is a member of the Public Council at the Ministry of Education and Science, the National Patient Organization, the European Women’s Lobby and others. The chairman of the organization, Deyan Kolev, was elected as a representative of Roma NGOs in the Monitoring Committee of the Operational Program “Science and Education for Smart Growth” 2014 – 2020.
Amalipe Center believes in the equal integration of Roma in a society based on the preservation of Roma identity and the modernization of the Roma community. The community’s knowledge of its own history and culture is an important factor in raising its self-esteem. The introduction of civic values and the development of civic leadership in the Roma community will help to overcome social exclusion and marginalization. Roma organizations working at local and national level are a catalyst for modernization of the community as a whole, they express its needs and could actively participate in changing the existing policies, attitudes and prejudices towards Roma, which are permanently embedded in institutions and society as a whole.
A key factor for social integration is access to quality education and quality social and health services. Effective work with schools, teachers, children and their families will lead to the creation of a new generation of Roma with a higher level of education, which will open new opportunities for jobs and a better quality of life. Improving the quality of social and health services will help to overcome the poor health and low social status in some groups of the Roma community.
The equal integration of the Roma in the society requires a change of policies and institutional practices at the local and national level and real participation of the local and national institutions for the inclusion of the Roma. The Roma must be perceived as all other Bulgarian citizens. It is also necessary for the Roma to take an active part in local and national authorities. Roma policies need to be formulated, planned, monitored and improved with the active participation of Roma.
Systematic information about the benefits of the inclusion of the Roma community, both from institutions and the media, will help to overcome the prejudices and negative attitudes of society towards the Roma and treat them as a potential for development and not a problem of development of the Bulgarian state.
The mission of the Amalipe Center is to stimulate the empowerment of the Roma community in Bulgaria for its active participation and equal access to:
- Resources and development processes, with a priority focus on access to quality education,
- Quality healthcare and social services;
THE LONG-TERM GOALS OF THE CENTER ARE:
- To develop the capacity within the community by raising the educational level of Roma children and youth;
- To develop skills for self-organization of the Roma community;
- To strengthen the participation of Roma in the decision-making process;
- Stimulating a consistent and responsible state policy, which he access of Roma to education, quality health care and social services, monitoring and feedback to improve policy measures and practices.
To achieve these goals, Amalipe Center uses:
– application of innovative methods and practices at local level;
– regular monitoring, feedback and advocacy for changes in existing policies related to the social inclusion of Roma;
– systematization of the practical results of various organizations and their inclusion in the national policies for achieving effective results in the integration of the Roma community, mobilization and organization of civic capacity of the Roma community;
– mobilization and organization of the civic capacity of the Roma community in order to implement joint actions for successful integration;
– Advocacy activities for the formation of a sustainable model for Roma integration, through the implementation of a policy of good practices tested at the local level.
PRIORITIES AND HORIZONTAL PRINCIPLES IN THE STRATEGY OF THE ORGANIZATION:
– maintaining close contact and exchange of information between the local and national level for more effective actions in the field of advocacy, as well as publicizing the real needs of the Roma community;
– equal participation of women in solving community problems;
– optimization and accumulation of resources through partnership with other Roma organizations and stakeholders in order to increase the effectiveness of actions;
– Every child and family deserves to be helped to develop their full potential, according to the code of ethics of the organization for work with children.
Amalipe Center is currently working on over 20 projects in the field of education, healthcare, provision of social services and support, funded by the European Commission, Operational Programs, Trust for Social Achievement, UNICEF and others. Amalipe Center works with a network of over 250 schools across the country to reduce dropout rates, introduce intercultural education, promote lifelong learning in the Roma community and increase the educational status of Roma. An essential part of this activity is empowering Roma parents to take an active part in school life and making the school a community center. The organization has established 14 Community Development Centers in the six regions of Bulgaria to promote the self-organization of the Roma community. Each of these centers works with a network of local community groups. In each of them work educational mediators, appointed on an employment contract to the organization or the respective schools and municipalities. Currently, nearly 30 educational mediators work at the Amalipe Center. In parallel, the Amalipe Center supports the work of educational mediators appointed by the schools in the Network “Every student will be a winner”, which are over 250.
In addition, the Amalipe Center cooperates with many Roma and non-Roma organizations from all over the country in activities in various fields: such as education, health care, social services, organizing advocacy campaigns for Roma integration and others.
Intercultural education and educational integration
Education is an area in which the Amalipe Center has been working since its inception and its contribution cannot be disputed. The main cause of CIDT “Amalipe” here is the introduction of intercultural education (with a main focus on the introduction of classes on “Folklore of ethnic groups – Roma folklore” as a means of preserving and renewing the cultural identity of Roma, as well as mutual knowledge and formation In terms of educational integration, Amalipe Center works in partnership with over 250 schools, over 2,500 teachers, universities and many cultural centers in Bulgaria.
Healthcare and health integration
Amalipe Center has been implementing activities in the field of improving the access of Roma to quality health care for several years. The activity is both at regional level – on prevention of tuberculosis, HIV / AIDS, and at national level – on testing a mechanism for monitoring health services at local level, advocacy in front of the Ministry of Health and support of the Program for Roma medical students.
Advocacy for Roma integration and full inclusion of vulnerable groups:
Amalipe Center has implemented many successful advocacy campaigns in front of national and European Union institutions. For example: advocacy campaign for inclusion of Roma issues in the Operational Program “Human Resources Development” and The National Strategy for Regional Development, advocacy campaign for inclusion of Roma issues in the School Education Act, an advocacy campaign to link the implementation of the system of delegated school budgets with the development of the quality of education in small settlements, etc.
The organization uses the existing consultative mechanisms for advocacy: representatives of the Amalipe Center have been elected to the Monitoring Committees of the Operational Program “Human Resources Development”, Operational Program “Competitiveness” and the National Strategic Reference Framework;
Social work and community development:
Amalipe works to increase the self-organization of the local community to accelerate the process of modernization and community development by: creating an innovative service in the community – Community Development Center.
To date, the Amalipe Center operates in 14 municipalities through Community Development Centers and local clubs. The centers are specifically focused on working in the Roma community (including among traditional and marginalized groups) and support the development and modernization of local communities. They carry out activities for prevention of dropping out of school, motivation and support for continuing education, prevention of violence, prevention of early marriages, raising civic awareness and activity in the community, supporting local development.