EU funds helping disadvantaged in Romania 10/07/2014 A Romanian city uses EU funds to assist socially disadvantaged groups. By Paul Ciocoiu for Southeast European Times in Bucharest -- 10/07/14 photo A Romanian city hopes to help its socially-disadvantaged population, including ethnic Roma. [AFP] Cluj-Napoca, a city in northwest Romania, is using 4.1 million euros from the European Union for several projects to create jobs and educate children from socially disadvantaged groups. One of the projects is a children's centre to be opened this fall, which will be filled with furniture, appliances and teaching materials, a playground and facilities for people with disabilities. "Access to this centre is for children from socially disfavored groups, such as families with no or little resources and whose children face the risk of dropping out of school or not being able to integrate in the mass education.
These children come to the centre for half a year or two years and benefit from extra assistance to integrate," Oana Buzatu, a spokeswoman for the Cluj-Napoca City Hall, told SETimes.
Local Roma leaders such as Pavel Doghi, president of the Roma NGO Amara Phrala, said education is crucial for the social inclusion of ethnic minorities and disadvantaged groups.
"Education is extremely important for Roma integration. So education is a must. Because those Roma who were reserved to send their children to school for various reasons have realised that without education their children have no future. And this optics has also changed thanks to us, the civil society, who have carried out projects for this purpose," Doghi told SETimes.
Buzatu says other EU-funded projects are under way, including one in co-operation with the United Nations Development Programme to build a waste sorting and recycling hall near the Pata Rat community, which will offer jobs to Roma who live there. Two housing projects for the Roma are also planned.
Ioan Bumbu, a Roma activist and a member of several independent bodies that advocate for Roma rights, said the work is important to the Roma community.
"I can truly say that EU funds have been used to intervene in some Roma communities with very good results in improving Roma's overall situation. This is indeed a continuous and difficult process, but in the end it represents a real chance for the Roma communities," Bumbu told SETimes.
What other steps can be taken to assist the Roma community? Share your ideas in the comment section.
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