Roma Communities in Berat to benefit from a new Intercultural Center
Citizens of Berat including children flocked together to inaugurate a new Intercultural Community Center which includes a health care center and kindergarten. About two hundred Roma and non-Roma families will be benefiting from services to be provided. Approximately fifty Roma children will be integrated in pre-school education thus be better prepared for primary level education.
Meli, a community member who has registered her 5 year son in the kindergarten is full of joy: “I am so happy that my child can attend the kindergarten in the new center. Before, we had to walks half an hour a day to reach the nearest one. To get registered was also a big challenge. What is great about this new building is that it also includes a health center with medical doctors of different specializations and a denstist. The center offers many services so greatly appreciated by the community members”.
The Construction of the intercultural community center was identified as a priority by the Roma and Egyptian Community Counseling Forums established in Berat.
The Minister of Social Welfare and Youth Mr.Erion Veliaj, present at the event noted:"I am very pleased to be here today and witness the opening of this center-so much desired by the communities, roma and non roma living in this neighborhood. This center represents not only a good model which provides the necessary services to the communities, but it also showcases the power of partnership between international development partners and local governments where the latter is an important player in this endeavor by contributing in the construction of the center. The Government of Albania is committed to Roma inclusion. I am happy to note that Albania is a leader in the region when it comes to the promotion of rights of Roma and Egyptian Communities".
Yngve Engström, Head of Cooperation of the EU Delegation in Albania present at the event amongst others, said:”The EU has been working closely with government and civil society to determine priorities to focus the work of the authorities and the work of us all on combating exclusion. These priorities include civil registration, education, employment, health care and housing for Roma and Egyptians. I’m very pleased to note that with the EU support this center will meet the needs of the Roma community members especially children. EU is determined to push forward Roma integration at all levels”.
Yesim Oruc, UNDP Country Director highlighted “I very am proud to be here today with the members of the community to celebrate the opening of the new centre. Throughout the programme, community members are actively participated in local decision-making - through identification of development priorities and preparation of Community Development Plans. This center is what communities wanted and I am very happy to be here with so many of you today".
The new center will also serve as a bridge between the community and local institutions. It will facilitate access to information and will bring a new approach to service delivery in the community. A member of the Egyptian Community is employed by the Municipality as the Coordinator for the Intercultural Centre.
The construction works were implemented in close collaboration with the Municipality of Berat, the Regional Directorate of Education and the Regional Directorate of Public Health.
This intervention is part of the “Supporting Social Inclusion of Roma and Egyptian Communities” project, funded by European Union and implemented by UNDP in partnership with the Ministry of Social Welfare and Youth.
The project is implemented in the regions of Berat, Korca and Vlora. It works to promote social inclusion and empowerment of Roma and Egyptian communities through encouraging participatory planning for infrastructure development, strengthening capacities of Roma and Egyptian civil society organizations; promoting employability and entrepreneurship. The project contributes to the implementation and monitoring of the National Decade Action Plan for Roma, as well as fostering respect for human rights and cultural diversity. The project started in July 2012 and is scheduled to end in December 2014.