21. 9. 2020
Teaching children about the rights guaranteed to them by the Constitution of Montenegro and all international conventions on human rights, how and with whose help to fight for human rights if they are denied to someone, what is discrimination and how to fight it, what constitutes identity, how it is built and developed, what is cultural and historical heritage and how to nurture it, what dangers lurk for children and teenagers during adolescence – are all topics that peer education coaches Jelena Fuštić from Forum-mne and Elvis Beriša from the youth Roma NGO “Walk with us – Phiren Amenca” trained about 15 young Roma-Egyptian (RE) teenagers from Berane, Nikšić and Podgorica who are just about to start high school.
This five-day workshop – summer educational camp for young people was organized by Help and Phiren Amenca held in Njeguši, Cetinje municipality.
The summer camp is part of the project “Civil society in action promoting and protecting Roma and Egyptian rights in Montenegro” that is funded by the European Commission – European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR).
The Roma youth organization “Let’s walk together Phiren Amenca” is Help’s partner in the realization of this project.
Jelena Fuštić, an informal educator from the Forum-mne, says that today everybody has their mouths full of narative about human rights, but when looked under the surface the children do not know what their human rights or obligations are, and its not only them.
“Terminology from that area is quite unadapted, and since children spend most of their time on social networks and various media, they get all the information and hear about inclusion, strategy, constitution and law, but they are all unfamiliar with those terms or are reluctant to research such things, because it does not sound appealing. And as far as formal education is concerned, no matter how much progress we have, it remains at the level of the professor talking, and children only listening to him – it is simply not interesting. As youth workers, people who deal with non-formal education, here we have the opportunity to bring this topic closer to them through various interactive activities, through quizzes, games and more, and transfer that knowledge practically so that they would remember it, in order for this knowledge to be more interesting for them to understand and to stay with them in the right way.”
Elvis Beriša, trainer and CEO of Phiren-Amenca says that he is pleased with the group, especially because of the fact that this is the first time for most of the participants that they have participated in a summer educational camp, and they have adapted quickly.
“I am very satisfied with the group, primarily because our group is quite diverse, primarily because of the fact that most of the participants are for the first time in this type of informal education. We tried to work with them on topics that are most prevalent in their daily lives, to teach them something about their basic human rights that they are not really aware of – the right to proper childhood in the first place, the one which we often forget. The program also builds on topics from everyday life, about which we watched films with them and that we commented on afterwards. The film about street begging was especially interesting for them, they have actively participated in the dialogue and were ready to give their opinions and views”.
Beriša pointed out that interaction with children is especially important to him.
“I am especially glad about the fact that, even if they had or did not have opinions about something, they have developed an opinion and views through conversation and interaction after each presentation, which shows that we managed to bring a certain area closer to them. It is especially important that the participants who were a little more withdrawn at the beginning, became very active, if not the most active through interaction in the meantime.”
It is also very important for Beriša that the teenagers had the opportunity through the workshop to get acquainted with the identity and culture of the Roma through various activities such as organizing a knowledge quiz on the history, language and culture of the Roma.
“The goal of the camp is for them to be the initiators of change one day in the Roma community itself. They are very young, they are at the beginning of high school education and now is the period when they should be influenced in order not to give up formal education and also to slowly prepare them to enter the area of activism in the local community. We expect that we will have a group in the end that will think differently than before on how to recognize and identify certain problems as well as to think about certain solutions.”
According to Beriša, he would be satisfied with the result even if only one person from this group of 15 teenagers gets empowered and motivated to continue further, through formal and non-formal education with some activism in their community.
The children were also very satisfied with what they have heard and learned during the socializing and learning at the summer camp. They are quite ready to continue with this type of education.
As they say, they are especially glad that they have learned everything about their rights, especially about discrimination, dangers of begging and other things.
Edin Šalja from Nikšić told us that he felt great here and that this is his first time at a gathering like this, and that he has learned a lot:
“I have learned about all the rights, and I have also learned how to behave. I learned all about the right to education and upbringing, but also the dangers of child begging. I would like to come to a workshop like this again, it was interesting for me.”
This is not the first time for Elmedina Jašari from Podgorica to participate in non-formal education of this type. She is just starting the first grade of high school – she has enrolled in medical high school, cosmetology course.
“I like workshops like this one a lot, we gain new knowledge but we also get to know new people which is very good, and with them we create new memories and new experiences. I have very good impressions, we get along fine and we managed to organize teamwork. I was especially impressed by the film about begging, about children and their parents in it. I learned about how great the parental responsibility for children really is, even though I knew that before. Of course we had classes on children’s and human rights and I am very pleased that they invited me to this camp.”
Elmedina’s great wish is to become a peer educator herself one day.
“It is my great wish to become a peer educator in addition to the job which I will have in the future. Because when I see peer educators working with us, I’m really happy. I would really like to do that in the future.”
Daut Džugatani is a fifteen-year-old from Podgorica, he graduated from the elementary school “Savo Pejanović” and is now enrolling in the Mechanical School. He says that everything was great for him.
“Everything, everything was great. We have learned a lot. I was especially interested in the topic of discrimination. I would like to participate in more workshops like this, and I would like to become a peer educator one day.”
In addition to our trainers Elvis and Jelena, the golden advisor to the ombudsman Jasmina Beriša spoke about human and children’s rights as well as the institutions they can turn to if they need them, about which we recently wrote a story that you can read here.
Below, we bring you the atmosphere from a five-day peer educational camp in Njeguši.