Women for Women International and DRC partner to support women's economic self-reliance in Roma Mahalla, Mitrovicë/a

In the beginning of September 2015, DRC invited experienced women NGOs from all over Kosovo to submit a proposal for a project aiming to enhance economic empowerment and design environmentally friendly activities for Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian women in Roma Mahalla, Mitrovicë/a. 

Following the assessment of applicants and evaluation of proposals received, Women for Women International based in Prishtinë/a was selected to implement the project Fostering Self-Reliance among Roma, Ashkali & Egyptian Women in Mitrovicë/a".

On 29/10/2015, DRC signed a two-year contract with Women for Women International to provide targeted support and capacity-building for a Roma Mahalla-based women's NGO Gjuvljano Mangipe and to train 40 Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian women from Roma Mahalla and 2 Korriku/Sitnicko Naselje neighbourhoods in Mitrovicë/a on how to identify opportunities for income generation and manage their income efficiently.

NGO Gjuvljano Mangipe (GjM) is supported by DRC under the Sida project: Support for Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian Communities in Mitrovicë/a. GjM is led by community members and is working towards establishing a social enterprise for handicrafts to support women's self-reliance. Work on expanding their online presence and establishing an online shop have already started and will continue with support from Women for Women International.

DRC signs 3-year-MoU with Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare

On Wednesday, 25/03/2015, Mr. Arban Abrashi, Minister of Labour and Social Welfare (MLSW), signed a Memorandum of Understanding with DRC to support the vocational and professional development of beneficiaries of the "Support of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities in Mitrovicë/a” Project, funded by the Swedish Agency for International Development (Sida).

Today’s signing of the MoU was preceded by a visit from representatives of the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare to the DRC vocational training facilities and Social Business Incubator in Roma Mahalla.  During the visit, DRC presented the results achieved in the past and discussed future plans and ways of enhancing employment opportunities for minority communities and youth with the Ministry.

The outcome of this process is an MoU covering a period of 3 years, which enables DRC and the Ministry to collaborate closely on improving the chances of Roma Ashkali and Egyptian communities in Roma Mahalla, Mitrovicë/a to increase their job skills and access the labour market.  DRC will provide preparatory vocational training courses in the fields of: welding, carpentry, high and low construction which pave the way for participants to pursue a career in these fields. 

DRC presents most recent, comprehensive data on the socio-economic situation of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities in Mitrovicë/a

In the restaurant VaPiano in Mitrovicë/Mitrovica, on 21 November 2014, with the support of the Mitrovicë/a Municipal Assembly, Danish Refugee Council  – office in Mitrovicë/a has organized a workshop on Comprehensive Study on Roma Ashkali and Egyptian communities: presentation of findings -challenges and solutions’. The event is organized within the framework of the Support to Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian Communities in Mitrovicë/a, DRC project funded by Sweden.

In order to discuss challenges identified by the comprehensive study conducted by DRC in September 2014, this event gathered  participants from different institutions, such as: local and central authorities, Embassy of Sweden, OSCE, UNHCR, UNICEF,  local and international organizations, RAE communities’ representatives from Roma Mahala and 2 Korriku/Sitnicko Naselje.

The summary of the study findings has been presented by the external consultant engaged by DRC, Chiara Mossina, who also briefly introduced the Action Plan, which will cover roles/responsibilities of all Mitrovicë/a stakeholders, while aiming to improve access to education for RAE children and adults and to enhance their economic opportunities and civic participation on their re-integration in Kosovo society.

Foreseen by the workshop agenda, and in order to recognize possible solutions to the identified challenges, a constructive discussion has been encouraged, involving representatives of the RAE communities, LNGOs (DRC implementing partners) and municipal representatives.

Deputy Mayor of the Mitrovicë/a Municipality has thanked both, DRC and Embassy of Sweden, for work they are doing with marginalized groups in Mitrovicë/a region. He confirmed readiness of the Municipality to take more responsibility while dealing with re-integration of minority communities. He pointed out the two Memorandums of Understandings that Municipality has reached with DRC and mentioned that very soon Municipal Assembly will endorse the Local Action Plan for integration of the RAE communities. In addition to this, he confirmed that as of January 2015, Mitrovicë/a municipality will start co-financing different projects related to the RAE communities. 

Watch the documentary: Environment protection in Roma Mahalla

This short film documents the activities of a community Environment Protection project carried out in Roma Mahalla, Mitrovicë/a in 2012. The film shows the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities’ efforts to improve their environment by organizing clean-up days, building a park and educating the community about recycling, garden maintenance and environment protection in general. Workshops and activities for children, women and men were implemented in partnership with Caritas Kosovo, Danish Refugee Council and the RAE LNGO Ardhmeria RAE.

Today, Roma Mahalla is home to around 300 Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian families and is located in the southern part of Mitrovicë/a town, south of the river Ibar.

Before the conflict around 7000 to 8000 Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians lived there. In summer 1999, all inhabitants of Roma Mahalla fled to Northern Kosovo, Serbia and Montenegro, and Western Europe where they lived in lead-contaminated camps for the following 8 years.

In 2005 a political agreement was reached between the Mitrovicë/a Municipality, OSCE, UNHCR, and UNMIK to allow and support the return to Roma Mahalla. The reconstruction of Roma Mahalla officially began in April 2006 with the foundations being laid for two apartment blocks on municipal land, implemented by NCA, followed by the reconstruction of 54 houses on private land, implemented by the Danish Refugee Council.

With the support of the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and the European Agency for Reconstruction (EAR), DRC facilitated the return of 48 families to Roma Mahalla in 2007, most of whom have continued to rebuild their lives there. Roma Mahalla is one of the most challenging return sites in Kosovo, as it is the first significant return project in Mitrovicë/a and the first large-scale urban return of a minority group. DRC’s work with the community in Roma Mahalla continues and today focuses on economic development and community development measures.