The ROMED2 Community Action Group in Byala Slatina organizes New Years’ celebration

Article by Liliya Makaveeva and Orhan Tahir – National Project Officers for ROMED2 and ROMACT in Bulgaria.

On 14 January, St Vasili Day in Bulgaria and the mark of the beginning of the Romani New Year, the ROMED Community Action Group of the municipality of Byala Slatina, in cooperation with the Mayor of Byala Slatina, organised the festivities for the event, where around 120 people participated from other localities. The event was possible also thanks to contributions of the municipality, local businessmen and above all thanks to the commitment and efforts of Roma themselves.

The organization of the event was conducted by 10 Roma active members of the Community Action Group in Byala Slatina, including the labor mediator Sashka Krasimirova and the health mediator Mirena Bocheva. Representatives of the villages of Altimir, Barkachevo, Vranyak, Galiche, Gabare, Popitsa, Tarnak, Trnava were also involved.

It was Mr Ivo Tsvetkov, mayor of Byala Slatina who opened the ceremony by wishing Happy New Year and a fruitful cooperation with the local Roma community. The event was also attended by the Chairman of the Municipal Council - Mr Haralampi Petkov, as well as Roma councilors Mr Yashar Kasamov, Mr Assen Dimitrov and Mr Rumen Kostov.

Mr. Mitko Kunev, one of the 10 members of the Community Action Group in Byala Slatina presented the ROMED2 and ROMACT programmes to the audience. It was thanks to his presentation that people present, members of the Roma community in Byala Slatina and from the communities close-by, could learn about the importance of empowerment, active citizenship and of achieving a sustainable dialogue with local authorities in dealing with the most urgent priorities.

In 2013, Byala Slatina was selected as one of the six municipalities in Bulgaria (Varna, Shumen, Sliven, Tunja and Maglizh being the other 5 municipalities) participating and strongly committing to the ROMED2 and ROMACT joint programmes of the Council of Europe and European Commission.

In 2014 efforts will continue in Bulgaria to establish a precedent in terms of successful participation of Roma in democratic governance, and thus in the planning and implementation of policies in their municipality. We hope that this would rapidly become a role model and an encouragement to other municipalities looking for the means to improve the lives of Roma communities in a sustainable way.

Photos of the event are available here.

Sofia, 16/01/2014

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