Phiren Amenca is a network developing a specific strategy regarding the intercultural training of volunteers.
Diaconia Valdese is one of the founding members of Phiren Amenca, “network of Roma and non-Roma volunteers and voluntary service organizations creating opportunities for non-formal education, dialogue and engagement, in order to challenge stereotypes and racism”. The network is based in Budapest, Hungary.
Current members of the Phiren Amenca network are voluntary service organizations representing a diversity of Roma, non-Roma, faith-related and secular, Central and Eastern European and Western European organizations.
According to Phiren Amenca principles, “volunteering is a powerful tool of social change, as volunteers dedicate their time and energy to contribute to society. Based on national and international voluntary service programs, the Phiren Amenca network creates opportunities for young Roma and non-Roma to live and engage in local communities and projects for up to one year”.
Along the years, Phiren Amenca has developed a specific strategy regarding the intercultural training of volunteers. Each spring and fall Phiren Amenca hosts in cooperation with member organizations a one week seminar for volunteers from around Europe focusing on the exchange of experience and on Roma history, discrimination, stigmatization, xenophobia, identity and culture; globalization and migration; as well as youth engagement and Roma initiatives in Europe.
One good example of this training strategy was the “Demystifying Roma: Challenging Stereotypes and Narratives about Roma” – Phiren Amenca Volunteer Seminar which ran from May 12-19, 2013 in Florence, Italy. Roma and non-Roma volunteers, volunteer candidates and youth leaders came together to challenge stereotypes and antigypsyism and engaging in a public campaign for Roma rights with creative street actions. The seminar strengthened the development of critical thinking of participants regarding antigypsyism and the situation of Roma in Europe, specifically in Italy by the visiting the “Campi Nomadi” and participating in the Civil Society festival “Terra Futura” in Florence.
After the meeting, at least 60 volunteers had a big public action within the “Terrafutura” social festival promoting international volunteering with particular attention to the “equal opportunities for the Roma community”. In the afternoon the flashmob was presented outside, in the middle of Piazza della Signoria, Florence reaching hundreds of people.