Phiren Amenca

Promoting Volunteering to Young People with Fewer Opportunities in Rural Hungary

July 27-29, 2020, Hungary

A project funded with the support of Otto per Mille of the Waldensian Church of Italy

Between the 27th and 29th of July, 2020 Phiren Amenca held a local seminar in the picturesque Orfű, Hungary ,together with the Roma Self-Government of Buják and the Diverse Youth Network, for young people with fewer opportunities in order to introduce them to the concept of volunteering and encourage them to become volunteers.

We believe that volunteering is a step and tool towards active citizenship and participation, as volunteers for a shorter or longer period get actively engaged in specific communities and contribute their knowledge, talents, skills and energies to an important cause.

The seminar hosted 38 participants from Pécs, Buják and Tállya, localities in Hungary with a high Roma population. As Roma have been excluded form all spheres of society by the mechanisms of antigypsyism for centuries, not only the majority population has to start seeing them as active agents, but they also have to internalize this narrative. That is why engagement in social issues while building dialogue with the majority population is of crucial importance in the process of social integration. One of the best starting points for this engagement is volunteering.

As among the participants there were children younger than 18 and people older than 30, besides international volunteering opportunities, such as the European Solidarity Corps Programme, we also focused on local volunteering opportunities.

Throughout the days of the activity, participants were lead through sessions starting form getting to know each other and team-building; to planning their own learning process, to conflict- management. By the end of the three days, they had a clear picture of what volunteering means and where they can look for opportunities.

They acquired skills in project-planning and management through setting up teams and planning, distributing the tasks around preparing and realizing a BBQ. They could plan what knowledge they would like to acquire, figure out ways for doing it and evaluate their results through a structures tour in the close town of Pécs. Participants also had the chance to exchange their insights about their local realities and figure out ways they could contribute to the development of issues affecting their lives. On a more theoretical level, they had the opportunity to observe the mechanisms of stereotyping, prejudice and racism based on their own experiences and perceptions of “others”. With the help of two former volunteers who facilitated some of the sessions, the interested participants could get first-hand accounts about volunteering both locally and abroad and about the support-systems which are in place for volunteers during their journey.

At the end, a short presentation was held about the practicalities of local and international volunteering: about the European Solidarity Corps Programme, the Civil Service and local opportunities as well.

Participants acquired knowledge, skills and competences through non-formal educational methods lead by the trainers, facilitators of Phiren Amenca and former volunteers who are colleagues of the Diverse Youth Network.

The project is funded with the support of Otto per Mille of the Waldensian Church of Italy