Blog of the Volunteering Convention: Volunteering brings young Roma together

The Blog of the II Convention on Volunteering gives interesting insights into all different dimensions of volunteering around Europe. Take some time and find out, how young people engage actively as volunteers! Today there was an article about ternYpe!

He comes from Spain, but he has been to Poland last week and spends a lot of time traveling. Vicente Rodriguez Fernandez is a young professional who works in creative education – and a member of the Roma community in Spain. “It is a very dense community,” he says, “it takes time to gain their trust, but if you have their trust, you will have 100% of it.” Vicente Rodriguez Fernandez provides education material for Roma children in schools, but also the Spanish culture ministry and other institutions. “Education through art” is the idea that he pursues, and he is very successful in it.

 

Rodriguez Fernandez is also a member of ternYpe, the International Roma Youth Network. The association brings together young Roma and young non-Roma under a common roof. Among others, it organizes field trips or teaching activities for kids. So far, ternYpe is etablished in Albania, Bulgaria, Germany, Nungary, Italy, Macedonia, Poland, Slovakia and Spain.

“The fact that we have managed to establish this organization is already a success,” says Jonathan Mack from Germany, who spent time volunteering with other associations before he joined ternYpe. “We are able to build a network around the families that take such an important role in the Roma community.” Then Mack clears up a common prejudice in European society. “98% of all Roma are established today. They have a house and strive for a job, a place at a unversity. Only, like everybody, they will consider moving if they find a better opportunity abroad.”

TernYpe also faces problems, mostly in convincing short-term volunteers to taking responsibility over a longer period. “It teaches young people a lot,” says Jonathan Mack, “but there is often a financial barrier to volunteering. You volunteer when your basic needs are taken care of. But try that when you work 50 hours and more to make a living.”

Yet, it is not impossible to find time for volunteering in the Roma community. Vicente Rodriguez Fernandez dropped out of school when he was 12. He did not learn his fluent English in school but by repeating Boy Dylan Songs. Now he produces documentaries for a ministry and he finds time to give his help tothe International Roma Network. TernYpe is working hard to give other the same development possibilities as him.