Varna Community Foundation
Обществен дарителски фонд за Варна
Project: From Community Dialogue to Systemic Change: Reducing Fear of the “Different” by means of Bottom-Up Action
About: Varna Community Foundation was formed by a group of local active citizens in 2012 who had a history of working together for different philanthropic causes in the community. The purpose was to improve the infrastructure for local giving. Varna Community Foundation has supported several projects that contribute to combating antigypsyism by means of creating positive examples of Roma educational integration, achieved with the support of local philanthropists. They have also supported the integration of migrants in the community.
Challenge: The most crucial challenge is the widespread fear of the different, leading to hate, which was enhanced in 2018 by the political discourse that led to the rejection of the ratification of the Istanbul Convention on the prevention of violence against women. A strong anti-campaign started in the beginning of 2018, launched by religious organizations and later taken over by nationalist parties in the government. The result of the anti-campaign was the spreading of a very aggressive anti-minority rhetoric, which was easily absorbed by the mainstream.
Solution: Organization has undertaken two distinct groups of activities: 1) grantmaking for empowering the segregated Roma and other marginalized groups and 2) activities, which enhanced community dialogue, raised awareness on critical issues, and created space for alternative discourses, which stimulate acceptance of the different. It has also prepared a short film to showcase positive examples of Roma inclusion in higher education. Moreover it has organized a special event under the title “Let’s Celebrate Together”, during which children and youth from different minorities, living in Varna, presented their culture and customs.
SDGs: 1, 4 16