Founded in 2002, the Forward Together (Zaedno Napred) Leadership Camps were started to motivate Roma youth from Bulgaria to build leadership skills and self-esteem, and to find ways to overcome the extreme cases of discrimination that they face in their communities. The purpose of these camps was to help motivate, inform and improve the lives of participants by encouraging them to complete their education and take a more active role in their communities.
The camp program is looking to build on its already 250-strong alumni base by expanding the program to reach out to participants in more communities throughout the country; increasing the number of local and national partners; awarding small community project grants; providing opportunities for its participants to network; educating them on opportunities for scholarships and educational grants; and exposing them to various educational institutions.
Over the next three years, AYF will be expanding its efforts by replicating this camp throughout the country in five regions (Montana, Sliven, Shoumen, Pazardjik and Vidin), while also creating two national seminars for camp alumni. For the first time, participants will have the opportunity to submit proposals for community projects in their communities. We will award eleven small grants for participants to implement their projects. This will not only positively impact 11 communities throughout Bulgaria, but it will also result in creating at minimum 22 visible youth role models in the communities. Our expansion will incorporate approximately 500 new Roma youth from across the country in Camp Zaedno Napred by 2013 and will create partnerships with at least one local NGO or Roma organization in each region.
In addition, the community has expanded online to take advantage of the digital tools available to youth disconnected by geography but brought together because of purpose and a shared vision of the future.
Above all, our chief method for learning focuses on experiential education – which endorses the theory that we learn best through experience. This camp will provide participants with tools to better understand their dynamic roles in society and to deal effectively with the challenges they face individually and as a community. Throughout the week, participants will be working in small groups with their leaders to foster cooperative learning.
Session topics will include human rights, ethnic integration, Roma history and identity, leadership skills, community responsibility, sexual education, discrimination and human trafficking. The goals of these seminars are to help motivate, educate and improve the lives of participants and their communities. Social and government leaders will be brought in to discuss these topics, share their own experiences and talk about minorities’ roles in society. Knowledge of self and cultural identity will help participants define their roles as future leaders and help their community find an effective voice in Bulgaria’s democracy.
To strengthen the commitment for continued education in the Roma community we will have sessions to provide campers with knowledge regarding the Bulgarian university system, and stipends and scholarships available. Participants will hear first-hand from university students about what to expect, what they can gain, and how to accomplish these goals
The organizers will send applications to municipalities, schools and NGOs throughout the country. Each applicant is required to attach a copy of his/her most recent report card and to write a short essay explaining. To apply, please email us for more information - firstname.lastname@example.org
This Internet-based communication network started in 2004 allows participants to continue sharing ideas, to discuss key issues and to provide support. Participants, staff, and speakers are all invited to take part in the network. The online community is now located here.Donate