Volunteering Stories: Non-Discrimination – by Hattie

Hattie is our French international  volunteer. As part of her civic service, Hattie is working with kids, mostly kids from very disadvantaged communities. She also implements activities about nondiscrimination with kids.

Hattie organized on Monday 11th October a public debate about nondiscrimination. She invites the local community of Baia Mare to talk about dissemination, stereotypes present in our society. Youngsters, adults, parents were present. High school students, university students, teachers, engineers from Baia Mare were present for this event.

In the office of the Team for Youth Association, different tables were put for the participants. Divided in smaller groups, each group had to answer questions that were present on each table. Questions who implicated each participants to take part, to put on the shoes of person who has been discriminated, to find solutions to change the mentalities, to question the role of different types of educations

Indeed, a compilation of people who have been discriminated against gave testimonies. Hattie asked beforehand to a person who has been discriminated against to share their testimonies. 

4 different persons shared their unfortunate experiences.

  • Among these 4 persons, 2 women from the Roma ethnicity explain that because of her ethnicity they’re been discriminated. One of them explained that when she wanted to go to a swimming pool, the staff of this swimming pool didn’t want to let her in because she was a Roma girl. 
  • The other Roma girl explained that when she was in school, in all her scholarship she didn’t have friends because the kids refused to be friends with her and tell her that it was because she came from the Roma ethnicity.

These women who have been discriminate explained how this kind of behavior impacts their confidence, their self esteem.

  • A black French guy gave his testimony and explain how in his daily life it’s a struggle because of his skin color. For example, the security guard will start to only follow him around in almost every shop. Or the police in the street will start to follow him and suspect that he’s a threat, a thief, a criminal, dangerous etc.
  • An Asian woman living in Italy explained that kids were thinking she was the carrier of the coronavirus because of her Chinese origins.

The participants debated and answered different questions and thought about what can be improved in the local community of Baia Mare.  “How can education help us to fight against stereotypes ?”, “How do we react when we witness a person who is discriminated against just in front of us ?” , “What can we do to change these discrimination ?” and “What can be improved in Baia Mare, Maramures or Romania ?”

The participants were involved and willing to change their mentalities and stop every kind of discriminations. They gave to us some tips to apply when we are witness of people who are discriminated:

  • to fill a report
  • to not support the business of organizations/forms who discriminate other people
  • to support the victim
  • to talk about this problem to inform other about discrimination act
  • to take part for the person who is discriminated / to put yourself in their shoes
  • to explain the situation
  • raising awareness 
  • more education / more inclusion
  • better training for the police staff
  • to explain to younger people in the most simplified way for them to understand and not discriminate.

In group, the participants thought about what can we do to change this and they gave us some tips:

  • to not judge a person by the first appearance
  • educate people: stop assuming that someone is bad because of his skin color
  • stop the promotion of these stereotypes 
  • famous celebrities/people can use their influence to spread this nondiscrimination message
  • teach a kid who repeat/reproduce a discriminated behavior: turn this kid behavior into a lesson

Together the participants explain how the impact of a good environment can help to change that. Indeed, to spread this nondiscrimination message and behavior in school, during sports, cultural activities is a big step for a change. The participants of Baia Mare also noticed the powerful impact of associations who organized activities, awareness about this.

Each participants have the willing to change things in the local community, where they live so they talk and write concrete actions who can be done in Baia Mare to erase this problem of discrimination! They explain how is it important for the local community to:

  • To speak in public spaces about discrimination. This problem have to be heard and fight through discussions, actions in the public space.
  • To bring awareness daily and realize how daily the Roma population is discriminated. To talk about this discrimination problem against the Roma population, not to denied this present discrimination.
  • To create a project to include the kids from disadvantaged communities and Roma kids. Including means to mix in classes the disadvantages kids with non disadvantages kids. Indeed, not to segregate kids in school, not to create separate classes for disadvantaged kids or classes only reserved for Roma kids.
  • To create successful initiatives to combat discrimination on a local level. 

During and after this public debate each of the participants was determined to change things in our society, they were willing to create positive changes and to say “NO” to the discriminations who is negatively impacting our society.