A warm conversation about youth inclusion and the bilateral collaboration between Romania and Norway with Espen Haugen, Acting Executive Director of Adina Stiftelsen Foundation Norway and Ronja Trolie, Manager of Empo multicultural resource centre
Adina Foundation Norway is based in Bergen, Norway and led by its volunteer board of directors and an administration with three employees. Adina Foundation Norway assists its Adina partners in Romania and Uganda providing funding and strategic project support. In Norway it works to attract funding for its partners projects which involves writing and following up grant applications, organising fundraising initiatives to attract many private and commercial donors, and organise physical and digital presentations for numerous schools. Under normal circumstances Adina Foundation Norway visits its partner projects several times a year to maintain a close relationship and collaborate on planning and work.
Stiftelsen Kirkens Bymisjon (SKB) is an NGO working for a more inclusive and warmer society. It was founded in 1855 and has about 1,800 employees and 4,500 volunteers in 50 cities in Norway. Through various measures, SKB aims to achieve its vision that all people should experience respect, justice and care, regardless of their situation, outlook on life or cultural background. SKB’s mission is to highlight and counteract the causes that cause harm, to offer help and alleviate suffering.
Adina Foundation Norway was founded in 2001 and has been involved in Romania ever since. The organization’s founder Ove Haugsdal first became involved with humanitarian work in Romania in 1999. Ove began by assisting children who had become infectected with HIV at multiple hospitals in the Craiova area. He received support from contacts in Norway to help the children and this led to the Adina Foundation’s establishment in 2001. The partner organization Adina Stiftelsen Foundation Romania was founded in 2004. Ever since, Adina Stiftelsen Foundation has run its project in Romania in partnership with Adina Foundation Norway.
The Church City Mission has a number of activities directed towards migrant groups in Bergen. One of these groups are migrant workers from EU, and Romania in particular. By supporting social projects in Romania through the Adina Foundation we aim to contribute to buidling a strong civil society in a country with major social challenges. Furthermore, through field visits to Romania, the Church City Mission experienced that some of our activities in Bergen were of relevance for learning and inspiration for the Adina Foundation.
Adina Foundation Norway’s approach to youth inclusion is to first focus on shared experiences and communication. In order for the inclusion of any group to be successful there needs to be a shared space and understanding by participants so that they can openly communicate their goals and opinions with each other. Collectively, a unified youth group is then better at expressing their needs and thereby making plans to exercise their rights. This is the method that Adina Foundation Norway has used with previous youth groups in order to facilitate open and productive dialogue that can then be acted upon.
Empo was established by SKBB in Norway in 2005, initially as a platform for immigrant women but has developed into a centre with a variety of activities for women, men, young people and families. Empo offers a meeting place where groups participate in vocational training, seminars, individual counselling, teamwork as well as social, cultural and professional activities. Our goal is to motivate every beneficiary we meet to be the best version of herself or himself by activating their own skills, building their own network and setting their own goals. This method is knowns as empowerment and it is a method that can be transferred to beneficiaries in Romania. We believe that Adina will find this to be a useful and successful method in implementing the projects in Romania.
V13 started in 1993 in Bergen, mainly as an initiative for at-risk youth aged 13-18. The concept aims at increasing young people’s ability to cope with life challenges, increasing social skills, motivation for school and vocational training to avoid negative behaviors.
„Open Weekend” is one of our most popular offer. All kids between 13 and 18 years old are welcome and it’s a place where they can relax and have fun with their friends and other visitors. Two of our employees and one voluntary are keeping our offers open during the weekends.
We believe that Adina will find this V13 model to be useful and successful when implementing the projects in Romania.
In development work to make an impact is seen as one of the greatest effects that a project can have and is often related to societal changes with significant results for its target groups. In the case of the “From Pupil To Employee: Advocacy and Training for Youth and Women at Risk in the County of Dolj” project Adina Foundation Norway sees that the project can be one with great impact as its participants became more familiar and confident with their own voices and thereby advocate for their inclusion in society and employment. A true impact would see the participants experience long lasting positive change in their own lives and then inspiring other people around them.
Impact can be measured on different levels, for instance on a societal level or a personal level. We firmly believe that by implementing the empowerment method where each individual engages in a process to have access to resources withim them selves. When these resources are activated, the impact on each individual, possible their family and network and hopefully even the society at large can be extremely #impactful.
As of now, the best moment has been when the first women groups have been successfully organized in Romania. Although the pandemic has made it impossible to travel and thus the benificiaries in the project haven’t yet meet in person at this point, we have kept in touch online and we share the ups and downs via a close contact online. We were so happy to learn that the project is being implemented successfully in spite of the pandemic, and we salute our Romanian collaborators for the work they are doing in midst of a pandemic.
The most difficult moment in the project has been realizing that we would not be able to travel and visit each other in Norway and Romania as planned due to the ongoing pandemic, but we are hoping and planning for this to happen in 2022.
The best moment in the project for Adina Foundation Norway so far has been to witness the incredible work that Adina Stiftelsen Foundation has done in attracting and engaging a large number of participants with shared interests. The most difficult has most likely been the complications and delays of the project caused by covid restrictions which has also prevented us in Norway from visiting the project.
From Norway we would like to congratulate and commend all those involved in the Active Citizens Fund Romania Programme for listening to the voices of youth and working to facilitate upon their behalf. It is inspiring to reflect upon how many individuals are working collectively to promote this important mission.
Bilateral projects such as this one are so important to strengthen the collaboration between two countries, and we are happy to be a part of the project to learn from each other and hopefully bring the people in our two different countries a little bit closer together.