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Promoting youth participation in decision-making processes for the development of local communities

Oradea, September 5, 2014

 

 

Press Release

 

Promoting youth participation in decision-making processes for the development of local communities, a group of young Norwegians chose to learn about the Roma culture and the socio-economic realities of Roma communities through an exchange program initiated by the Ruhama Foundation.

 

Young Norwegians active in the Youth Council of the City of Bergen, accustomed to the democratic consultation mechanism in decision-making targeting local development, joined the Roma youth from five rural communities in Bihor County (5 localities) in a local community action. From August 31 - 5 September 2014, their joint efforts are directed at promoting civic volunteerism and their involvement in decisions affecting the community.

 

This personal development program for young people, placed in the context of social, economic and cultural realities of the Roma, aims to stimulate active citizenship of young people in order to solve the problems facing their communities.

 

What can young people do for their views and proposals to be taken into consideration by the community decision-takers?; how can youth organize itself to advance the prioritization of community development ideas and how to make a consensus-based proposal to the local decision-makers; What channels can they use to expose the development priorities of their communities?; - These are some of the topics to be discussed by the young people who will be attending meetings with local decision makers (local councilors and mayors). They also are directly involved in concrete local actions, such as small-scale local infrastructure projects (equipment of spaces destined for leisure, a bus stop, etc..); educational programs and health-through-sport programs; sustainable community development programs, etc.

 

“We, the Bergen Youth City Council care passionately about our city and local communities. After travelling to several communities in Bihor county and meeting young volunteers, we realize that civic volunterism can have an impact. Romania is a fairly unkown country to most Norwegians, as Norway might be to most Romanians. Coming here, we didn't know exactly what to expect. What we found was open doors, welcoming people, people listening to what we had to say and really eager to make a difference in their municipalities and communities. Mayors from the project municipalities opened their town halls for us, and showed a genuin interest in promoting youth participation in local decision making. The partnership between the city hall, local youth and the Ruhama foundation has resulted in new playgrounds, footbal fields and the formation of youth community volunteering groups.

 

In March, a group of young volunteers from Romania will return our visit and we hope they will feel an equally warm welcome in winterly Norway.”

 

In the "General Traian Moşoiu" room of Oradea City Hall, the youth organize a public event to be attended by representatives of the Bergen Kommune, 15 members of the Local Youth Council of Bergen, young Roma and non-Roma from Bihor County, local government representatives of rural areas in Bihor, representatives of public administration of the city of Oradea by the Deputy Mayor Mr. Ovidiu Mureșan, Oradea citizens, and last but not least, representatives of the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Bucharest, Mrs. Hilde Berit Eide - European Economic Area and Norway grants counselor and Mrs. Diana Săcărea  – officer.

 

Mayors and local councilors are invited to exemplify local ways of engaging young people in decision-making and community actions aimed at involving citizens.

 

The youth also invites participants to attend the opening of a photo exhibition entirely organized by young Roma people in Romania together with the young Norwegians. During 4 days of seminars and field visits, they will capture instances of Roma communities from Bihor County, which will inform their own perceptions, values and also the recommendations that address local policy makers and the public opinion.

 

Romania, together with 15 other states (mostly from Central and Eastern Europe), benefit from the EEA Grants, through which donor countries (Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) contribute to reducing economic disparities and to the strengthening of bilateral relations.

 

In the context of the public events promoting bilateral relations organized in Romania, Bergen Kommune has decided to establish through its representatives bilateral partnerships with Ruhama Foundation of Oradea, and together to increase voluntary involvement of young Roma in the decision-making process of local councils for local community development. The "Young People from Romania and Norway - Promoters of the civic community volunteering" program is implemented by Ruhama Foundation in Oradea in partnership with the Bergen Kommune in Norway and is financed by the EEA Grants 2009 – 2014 and the NGO Fund in Romania with a 74 970 euro grant for a period of 12 months.

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