Generation of Change?
My New Chapter in Life – the European Voluntary Service
Let me first introduce myself. I am Thanasis Mitrou, I am coming from Greece and currently, I am working as a young Roma professional under the European Voluntary Service (EVS) in the European Roma Grassroots Organizations (ERGO) Network in Brussels. To begin, it happened in March 2017 when I found, by chance, the advertisement of United Societies of Balkans (USB) – a Greek Youth Organization, on Facebook. My first thought was that now I have a chance on the one hand to get on the airplane and travel and on the other hand to contribute to building a better future for Roma people.
To take part in the EVS program, I think, is a great opportunity for every young person, because one could improve in many aspects. Firstly, you can improve your jobs skills as you work with people who have great knowledge and working experiences, but also you can learn new languages. I think this is very important for your career, but also for your personal life. You will have an opportunity to travel to different countries and to be able to learn about new cultures and meet new people. I believe that every young person, including Roma, wants to visit new countries.
I am in Brussels only for about one month. Brussels is definitely a place for work, but you can also find a lot of interesting things to see and do. I am amazed with architecture of the buildings. For me, Brussels is beautiful because it has a combination of different architectural styles. Moreover, this is a place where you can find all kinds of ethnicities; the mix of cultures is really visible when it comes to music and food in Brussels. Importantly, as an EVS you will have a monthly salary which is enough to live a decent life.
Finally, in my opinion living and working in another country has a clear benefit for both the individuals and the society.
My dream is that all Roma are proud because they belong to Romani community. In some years I wish to see Roma flags waving everywhere. I think antigypsyism that we Roma experienced in the past and are still experiencing in the present is a real obstacle. In my opinion, we can be stronger as individuals and as a community if we get over this. If we achieve not to feel as victims anymore, our community will be happier.
The generation which is now between 20 and 30 years old is the generation which can change the situation. This can happen only if all young people take active part in all the processes concerning their lives. In my opinion, young people hold the keys to the future that can be materialized with innovative minds and energy to make the change.
A very helpful tool to contribute to the change is using RomaReact website. For example, by writing a blog. Every week we choose a different topic. We can talk about our worries, learn from each other and finally we will find new ways to improve the situation of Roma, of course starting from ourselves. I think that all young Roma have the same dream to see our family, our community happy and proud. In addition, our contribution to change is not only for us, but also for our children. Nobody wants our children to face antigypsyism like us. I believe no one.
Showing we are proud Roma
To start with, I propose the first topic on RomaReact to be self-confidence of the Roma, based on being Roma. We will discover the topic until the end of March/early April. I believe we have to dedicate time to that because we must start from building a base. It is of utmost importance to know how we feel about being Roma and how we are helping feed our pride and happiness based on being Roma. “What is it exactly that you are proud of and how it helps you to be stronger in everyday life?”
Towards the end of the April, we will start suggesting new topic. It can be also clear from the conversations what next steps we should take and what to discover. But importantly, it is going to be us to say what we want to talk about.
Building vision together
Finally, we are 12 million, and my opinion is that a strong and proud Romani community is able to have more political and economic power, but only if we are together. For example, I want to be project manager in the area of economics of petroleum. Based on my expertise, I could share a lot of knowledge and empower Roma community. At the same time, Roma community is empowering me and helping me. To be more concurrent, I imagine in ten years from now that we will have strong people in all the fields of job market (politics, business, journalism, etc.). In this way Roma community and we as individuals will be more independent and very strong players at all spheres of life, so we have a mutually beneficial relationship.
In conclusion, I know that my dream, my hopes and the dreams of a lot of us are not easy to achieve, it is very difficult. The change will not happen in 1 or 3 years, but if we try and we believe in this, we will have results.
‘”The difference between a successful team and the others
Is not a lack of knowledge
Is not a lack of strength
Is a lack of Will”
So only if Roma believe in themselves, our dream can become a reality.
Let’s connect on facebook (Thanasis Mitrou)