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Preserving Identity and Promoting Rights: Arete Youth Foundation Empowers Roma Youth

31 July 2023

In a world where diversity forms the very foundation of its cultural heritage, the rights of minorities play a pivotal role in safeguarding their unique identities. The Arete Youth Foundation, based in Bulgaria, has been at the forefront of championing the promotion and protection of the Roma community’s identity and rights. By conducting insightful workshops and seminars, this foundation empowers young Roma individuals with knowledge about human rights, anti-discrimination, and their rich cultural heritage.

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At the heart of the initiative lies the conviction that preserving the Roma identity is paramount in averting forced assimilation and the loss of their distinct culture, religion, and language. The Arete Youth Foundation firmly believes that these elements contribute to the world’s richness and diversity, representing an integral part of its shared heritage.

Throughout April, May, and June, eight impactful workshops took place at various vocational high schools across the country. The schools included the Vocational High School of Hairdressing and Restaurant Management in Pazardzhik, ‘Hristo Boyadzhiev’ Vocational High School of Clothing and Textiles in Pleven, ‘Trayko Simeonov’ High School in Shumen, Vocational High School of Light Industry, Ecology, and Food Technologies in Yambol, High School “Otets Paisii” in the village of Medkovets, High School of Tourism in Samokov, and High School “Hristo Botev” in the village of Archar. The workshops aimed to educate Roma youth on key concepts of EU rights and values, anti-discrimination measures, and the fight against anti-Gypsism.

Over 200 enthusiastic Roma high school students attended these workshops, grasping fundamental principles such as human dignity, freedom, equality, and solidarity. The interactive sessions delved into instances of discrimination that have occurred in Bulgaria over the past 15 years, prompting heartfelt discussions among the participants. Many young individuals bravely shared their personal stories of facing prejudice from both other minority groups and the majority population, recounting instances of being denied access to basic facilities like cafeterias and swimming pools due to their skin tone or mother tongue, and being unjustly denied opportunities available to others.

The Arete Youth Foundation team firmly believes that cultivating pride in their Roma identity, pursuing higher education, and venturing into the workforce are powerful weapons against discrimination, combating prejudices and stereotypes head-on.

Looking ahead, the Arete Youth Foundation remains dedicated to its mission of empowering the Roma community. The organization plans to organize two more workshops on EU rights and values, anti-discrimination efforts, and two seminars specifically focusing on Roma culture and identity in the coming months.

As the foundation continues to light the path towards a more inclusive and diverse society, the world watches in hope, knowing that every step taken towards the promotion and protection of minority rights is a step towards a brighter future for all.

For more information and updates on the Arete Youth Foundation’s efforts, please visit https://areteyouth.org/

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This content was published in the context of the Minorities, Accountability, Rights, Independence and Organisational Development (MARIO) programme. Learn more >

MARIO is funded by the Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values Programme (2021-2027) of the European Union (ref: 101091387).