by Bojidar Kolov

My European Solidarity Corps project at the Roma National Council in Zagreb was indeed one of the most enriching and valuable experiences I ever had. The time I spent at RNC helped me widen my perspectives and deepen my knowledge about human and minority rights, the history of struggles for equality and the everyday challenges stemming from intolerance and discrimination.

I was part of the EUROMIJA project[1], which focused on raising awareness in society and supporting the empowerment of the Roma community. Besides the tens of articles I wrote on pressing issues for the Roma community and the interviews I conducted with high officials and civil society leaders, I also took part in preparing various human rights workshops in schools and other institutions in Croatia. Additionally, my co-volunteers and I organised different street actions aiming to raise awareness about inequality, discrimination and the current situation of Roma people.

I had the opportunity to participate in a number of international conferences, various media forums, as well as different trainings on behalf of the Roma National Council. These events enlarged my professional network and helped me understand better the multidimensional character of the fight for equality and inclusion.

Additionally, the Roma National Council facilitated my Croatian language learning, and with the help of experienced teachers, I did learn quite a lot. The language, however, was not the only thing I learned about Croatia and the region. RNC staff provided with a fantastic every day “course” in Croatian culture, history, geography, and cuisine. What is more, the international team at the Roma National Council makes the whole volunteering experience a highly diverse and unique experience, which practically brings the world into one office.

However, the EUROMIJA project was not about us, the volunteers (although we got quite a lot from it!). It was about solidarity, about contributing to the betterment of society. The little we could do by raising the difficult topics of normalised injustice, severe economic inequality, institutional racism and violence, as well as the history of genocide, is, in fact, not that little at all. To change to the world, we first have to start imaging that it could be different. And the first step in doing so is to speak about what makes it desperately in need of change today. 

Bojidar Kolov

European Solidarity Corps 2019-2020

[1] ESC Code: 2019-2-HR01-ESC11-061113