On 4th June 2020, our member organisation APSD-Agenda 21 from Romania organised the third local visit planned among the activities of MIJARC Europe’s annual work plan “Rock, Paper, Participation“. The work plan focuses on seeing-judging-acting on how young people get involved in the dialogue on agricultural policies and on how they take part to sustainable agricultural practices.

The Rock, paper, participation” annual work plan is co-funded by the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe and the European Union.

Following the introduction of the lockdown measures of the COVID-19 pandemic across almost all European countries, several of MIJARC Europe’s member organisations decided to organise the local visits as national webinars. The team of MIJARC Europe designed a webinar format based on online tools and assisted the member organisation in implementing their activities online in line with the objective of the work plan. APSD-Agenda 21 was the first member organisation that hosted a national webinar instead of a local visit to a farm, but the event was useful, effective and well received by the participants.

Organising the event online as a webinar gave the advantage of having more than 12 participants and making it a national rather than a local event. APSD-Agenda 21 spread the call in its national network and finally 66 participants from five counties in Romania attended the webinar.

The webinar was led on Zoom and included a balanced mix of theoretical input and practical exercises that made the activity dynamic and interesting for the participants. First, they got the chance to know each other better through a set of four questions that invited them raise there hand if during the lockdown period that had:

  • taken part to a challenge on social media
  • listened to a podcast
  • baked something for the first time
  • attended online meetings while still wearing their pyjamas

The next block on the agenda was dedicated to agriculture and aimed at bringing the young participants closer to agricultural practices and to understanding how agriculture is done in their country and in Europe. Based on the study on youth involvement in agriculture that MIJARC Europe published specially for this visit, the participants found out that:

  • 56% of the EU citizens live in rural areas;
  • there are almost 12 million farmers in the EU, with only 29% of the farmer owners being women and only 5% being young than 35 years old;
  • Romania is the largest producer of sunflower in the EU;
  • 33% of Romania’s active population work in the agricultural sector.

After the general introduction to the topic of agriculture, the participants had the chance to discuss with one of the leading experts on agriculture in Romania, Mr. Vînătoru Costel – head of the plant gene bank in Buzau and horticulture engineer at the Plant Research and Development Station in Buzau-Romania. The discussion focused on practices used in sustainable agriculture, the phases a product goes through from the moment it is just a seed to the moment we can consume it, several projects of the research station, the expert personal motivation to study agricultural and work in the field, the Common Agricultural policy and who implements it in Romania, ways to involve young people in agriculture and the main problems farmers face in Romania.

The second part of the meeting focused on youth involvement in policies and especially in agricultural policies. While the participants had some idea about what a policy is, almost none of them had ever been involved in a structured dialogue process ir was aware of how young people could influence a policy.

Next, the participants explored the Common Agricultural Policy and the way it is implemented in Romania and were introduced to the Revised European Charter on the Participation of Young People in Local and Regional Life (the Charter) They went through the six-step implementation model, the principles of the Charter, the ladder of participation and the RMSOS approach and were very pleased to see that there was an instrument that could guide them towards getting involved in policies at local and regional level.

Revised Charter

The evaluation session revealed the fact that the participants found the webinar very useful and interesting and discovered a multitude of tools they could use to get involved.

 

”Let our voice be heard” – an annual work plan co-funded by the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe and the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union.


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Between 2018 and 2021 MIJARC Europe is leading its work around three thematic focus points described in the Specific Objectives adopted by the General Assembly back in 2017. The work plan we run in 2019 addressed MIJARC Europe’s commitment to support citizenship and youth participation in rural development.

Through the work plan we run in 2019 we aimed to help rural young people in MIJARC Europe network and beyond feel that they have the right, the means and the skills to drive change at local level and to motive other stakeholders to support their ideas and create opportunities for youth participation together.

We wanted young people to feel that they know, they can, and they want to be involved, to be able to imagine the concrete, sequential steps towards achieving real impact and to identify how to determine local authorities to join their initiatives in order to see those changes they envision, happen in reality.

This aim was pursued through the following specific objectives:

O1: enable young people from rural areas to discriminate between self-imposed barriers to participation (their own perceptions, stereotypes and attitudes) and real barriers and find inspiration to identify solutions to both types of barriers;

O2: teach young people how to communicate with, involve and ask for support from local authorities and perceive them as partners rather than opponents;

O3: empower young people from rural areas to become competent and effective digital citizens;

O4: contribute to the implementation of the principles of the Revised Charter on participation of young people in local and regional life and to the dissemination of the “Have your say manual” to local public authorities and youth NGOs in at least 10 rural areas in Europe.

PHASES

The work plan included one local activity and two international activities, reinforced by follow- up activities at local level.

From February to April 2019, MIJARC Europe organized focus groups, called “local visits” in 9 different countries in Europe. Small groups of 10 to 20 people aged from 12 to 22 years old came together, sometimes also with representatives of local authorities, to discuss the topic of youth participation.

Questions like “what does youth participation mean?”, “what kind of youth participation does take place?”, “does real participation take place?”, “how young people are involved, do they have a real chance to participate and co-decide?” have been deeply discussed with the help of the manual “Have your Say”. The manual Have your Say is a tool of the Council of Europe for young people and local authorities to implement and use the Charter on youth participation in the local and regional life. The findings of the local visits were included in a report and illustrated in country fact sheets. The results of this small scale research were at the basis of the next two phases.

Report on the state of youth participation – local visits

Info graphics – country fact sheets

The second activity was an international seminar, which gathered 40 young people, for four full working days.  It had the role to bridge the results of the fieldwork done by MIJARC Europe during the local visits with the theoretical and practical aspects of the participation at local, national, regional and European lever by involving active members in a proactive learning process.

The seminar was designed and led based on the methods of non-formal education and relevant approaches using the Revised European Charter on the Participation of Young People in local and regional life and the “Have your say” Manual. The successful implementation of the seminar resulted in a magazine of personal stories of participation written and drawn by the participants, the creation of vlogs and of three infographics.  The final evaluation results show that the seminar scored high in the hearts and minds of the participants. The percentage of those who believe that they got the basic theory, practical approaches and tools, to help them to build a culture of participation after the seminar is about 92%.

Digital magazine “My story of participation” 

Vlogs – https://www.youtube.com/user/MIJARCEurope/videos

Info-graphics 

 

The seminar was complemented by the third phase, an international training course on e- citizenship that offered additional tools and ideas to tackle the problems identified in the first phase. The training course aimed to bring the participants closer to e-participation. The participants were encouraged to build their own positions for different topics related to participation and e-participation and they had a possibility to present and discuss in a safe learning environment.

They had a possibility to address their comments and questions to Dirk Van Eeckhout, the Thematic Coordinator on Information Policy in the Council of Europe and Rita Jonusaite, part of the secretariat of the YFJ. That was a highly valuable experience that helped the participants to meet stakeholders, gain self-confidence and resilience breaking the present barriers. The participants worked together in intercultural subgroups in order to solve practical case studies through the e-participation tools they have discovered.

 

The most impressive result of the training course was the set up of an online campaign “Every Breath we take” the participants used to raise awareness on the fires in the Amazon and climate injustice. The campaign worked as a Facebook challenge in which young people were challenged to take a photo of themselves with their eyes closed, taking a deep breath along with the written message: “Our common home is on fire. The Amazon is burning. We cannot hold our breath until you finally take action. We need to act NOW!”. It also included four calls to action and messages inspired by the position papers of MIJARC Europe such as: “We demand national governments to take concrete actions to meet their commitments to the Paris agreement”. The campaign gathered more than 100 people who took a photo of themselves, posted the photo along with the message on their Facebook profile and challenged their friends

Every breath we take campaign

Training booklet on e-participation

Finally, each organization involved did a follow-up activity of their choice, involving a minimum number of 10 participants. The full list of follow-up activities can be seen here.

Follow-up activity in Bulgaria

Follow-up activity in Germany

Follow-up activity in Romania

The results of the work plan were also presented and promoted in our biannual magazine: MIJARC Explore.

logosbeneficaireserasmusleft_enBetween 4th – 8th September 2018, our member movement APSD-Agenda 21 is hosting a youth exchange on peace and conflict. The project is called “Messages from the future” and it is part of our annual work plan on 2018 “We are the others”. The youth exchange is co-financed by the ERASMUS+ Programme of the European Union. It is organized as an international simulation on four different topics which affect peace and conflict at global level: climate change, migration, gender inequality and extremism.


The final day of our youth exchange brought to our attention the topic of extremism with the help of a very interesting game and many balloons. The team of facilitators adapted ”The Island” simulation from the All Different, All Equal Education Pack in order to show that differences should be first acknowledged and then accepted, that tolerance and adaptability are key skills and that diversity should be celebrated.

Split into two different tribes, both worshiping balloons the participants took their roles seriously and started looking for a very rare type of balloon which could only be found with a special map. Of course each tribe possessed only half of the map and only by coming together and mending the two halves could the tribes find the balloons. The negotiations were tough and the members of the tribes had to learn the other’s culture in order to be able to communicate with them.

In the debriefing part they talked about how important it had been to stay open and to adapt to the situation by learning the language of the other tribe, sharing their habits and not using violent methods. They discussed about culture, what makes it important and about what brings the cultures into conflict. They reflected on who gains and who loses from a conflict and about the negative and positive consequences of opening up towards other cultures.

Next, the tribes prepared the photo-messages with their most important conclusion.

The day ended with a long evaluation and follow-up session, in which the participants reflected on their learning, filled-in their youth passes and discovered what competences they had developed throughout the week. They also made plans for hosting the travelling exhibition and found out who their secret friend had been.

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This article is part of a series of stories written by the young people who took part at our seminar “A call for peace for all”. They include real life stories of people who left their countries and/or information about migration in one of the European countries where MIJARC Europe has members. All those whose names or any other identification data appear in the articles have given their written consent for making this information public. 


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In the context of the topic chosen for this year by our member movements – peace – we have launched an online campaign of peace messages and quotes under the #nevertakepeaceforgranted slogan. This campaign is part of our work plan which also includes two international activities and a travelling exhibition on the topic of peace. The first international activity of our work plan was preceeded by a preparatory phase during which our members had to interview/discuss with at least two people who had left their countries and are now know as “migrants”, “refugees” or “asylum seekers”. To our members they are just people, as are those living next to us. They have emotional and unusual stories, they live in different conditions but as our participants discovered they have not forgoten to be kind, tolerant, open and to forgive.

Here we bring you the article written by the participants from Bulgaria. The Bu;garia version of the first part of the article can be found below.

Asylum in Bulgaria

Military conflicts in the Middle East and other parts of the world in recent years have led to a significant emigration / refugee wave across Europe, with great force and many issues in Bulgaria. most refugees from Afghanistan, followed by Syria and Iraq. In Bulgaria, asylum seekers are staying in temporary refugee accommodation while waiting for a status decision. According to data in the country about 3,000 asylum seekers are found in refugee camps and a few more are found in foreign addresses. The number of migrants entering the border is much higher, but due to problems with the protection of state borders and the lack of certainty about the country’s policy on this issue, the concrete figures are unclear. The statistics show that more than 60000 people have been seeking state protection since 2013, with the number decreasing since the beginning of 2018, ol 500. The majority of people entering Bulgaria simply want to go through it on their way to Western Europe where they think they will get more security and better living conditions. This shows the statistics, as they themselves say. is approached with the necessary understanding of the refugee problem and most often refers to distrust of the newcomers.

The Bulgarian delegation talked to two refugees who did not accept to disclose any of their personal data, therefore, in the article they will be refer to as X and Y. Both X and Y came to Bulgaria as refugees – X from Afghanistan, and Y- from Syria. Both were running from war and to better life. They faced lots of difficulties during their fight for a new life and fortunately there is a positive effect already caused be government’s policy towards refugees. X, who emigrated to Bulgaria in 2015 has been given a refugee status and already is permitted to work and live in the country alongside Bulgarians. He now works in a big factory for thermo-sensor manufacture and is happy to start a new life. He admits that Bulgarians accept him as their even and opportunities are, on his behalf, yet to come. Y ,on the other side, is a newcomer from Syria going away from war ,who came this year and is still awaiting for a decision towards her status. She hopes that Europe is going to prove as a land of hope and opportunities and war will stay behind her back.


Военните конфликти в Близкия Изток и други части на на света през последните години доведоха до значителна емигрантска/бежанска вълна в цяла Европа ,като това се усети с голяма сила и доведе до много въпроси и в България.По официални данни в нашата страна са потърсили подслон най-много бежанци от Афганистан следван от Сирия и Ирак.В България търсещете убежище пребивават в центрове за временно настаняване на бежанци докато чакат решение за получаване на даден статут. В момента по данни в страната се намират в бежански лагери около 3000 търсещи убежище хора и още няколко стотин от тях се намират на чужди адреси.Неофициално броят на влезлите в границата на държавата мигранти е доста по-голям но поради проблеми със защитата на държавните граници и липса на сигурност относно политикатана държавата по този проблем конкректните цифри са неясни.Статистиката показва че от 2013 година над 60000 лица са потърсили държавна закрила,като последните 2 години броят им намалява като от началото на 2018 година броят им е само около 500.Мнозинството лица влезли в България целят просто да преминат през нея по пътя си към Западна Европа където мислят ,че ще получат повече сигурност и по-добри условия за живот.Това показва статистиката ,както и казват самите те.Българското население също не подхожда с нужното разбиране към бежанския проблем и най-често се отнася с недоверие към новодошлите.

This article is part of a series of stories written by the young people who took part at our seminar “A call for peace for all”. They include real life stories of people who left their countries and/or information about migration in one of the European countries where MIJARC Europe has members. All those whose names or any other identification data appear in the articles have given their written consent for making this information public. 


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In the context of the topic chosen for this year by our member movements – peace – we have launched an online campaign of peace messages and quotes under the #nevertakepeaceforgranted slogan. This campaign is part of our work plan which also includes two international activities and a travelling exhibition on the topic of peace. The first international activity of our work plan was preceeded by a preparatory phase during which our members had to interview/discuss with at least two people who had left their countries and are now know as “migrants”, “refugees” or “asylum seekers”. To our members they are just people, as are those living next to us. They have emotional and unusual stories, they live in different conditions but as our participants discovered they have not forgoten to be kind, tolerant, open and to forgive.

Here we bring you the article written by the participants from Germany. The German version of the article can be found below.

Asylum in Germany

In Germany there are 10.6 million migrants and 18.6 million people with immigrant background. The large part of migrants is coming from European countries like Turkey, Poland and Italy. Also there are 1.6 million refugees who are seeking protection in Germany – most of them coming from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.

There are different reasons for migration: refugees are fleeing from war and terror in their country or migrants from other countries are hoping for better living standards for their selves and their families through higher wages or a higher level of education. Refugees are living in reception facilities after coming to Germany. They are distributed through a key system which contributes to an equally number of refugees in all states in Germany.

After their time in these reception facilities they are going to live in a shared accommodation or their own apartment. Also refugees are being supported with activities like German lessons or help with the search for jobs so the transition to daily life is going to be easier for them.


Asyl in Deutschland

In Deutschland leben insgesamt 10,6 Millionen Migranten (Stand: 31.12.2017) und 18,6 Millionen Menschen mit Migrationshintergrund (Stand: 2016). Der Großteil von ihnen stammt aus europäischen Ländern wie z.B. der Türkei, Polen und Italien. Zudem befinden sich 1,6 Millionen Schutzsuchende, von welchen die meisten aus Syrien, Afghanistan und dem Irak eine Zuflucht in Deutschland suchen (Stand: 2016). Die Gründe für die Zuwanderung sind verschiedene – Flüchtlinge suchen in einem sicheren Land Schutz vor Krieg und Terror, welcher in ihrem Heimatland herrscht.

Andere Zuwanderer hoffen sich bessere Lebensbedingungen für sich und ihre Familie erschaffen zu können durch höhere Löhne oder durch bessere Schulbildung. Asylsuchende werden nach ihrer Ankunft und Registrierung in Deutschland in Aufnahmeeinrichtungen aufgenommen in welcher sie kurz- ober auch langfristig untergebracht werden. Schutzsuchende werden in Deutschland durch eine Verteilungsquote den verschiedenen Bundesländern zugewiesen. Diese Verteilungsquote gewährleistet eine gleichmäßige Verteilung der Flüchtlinge in Deutschland.

Nach ihrer Zeit in den Aufnahmeeinrichtungen werden sie in Anschlussunterbringungen gebracht, wie zum Beispiel in Gemeinschaftsunterkünften oder auch in eigenen Wohnungen. Ebenfalls werden sie dabei durch Integrationsmaßnahmen u.a. Deutschunterricht oder auch durch Hilfe bei der Jobsuche unterstützt, damit ihnen der Übergang in das Alltagsleben ermöglicht werden kann.

On 18th October 2017, our member organization System&Generation from Turkey held two round tables with students and staff of the T.C. Gazi University and with members of their own organisation.

S&G (4)The round tables started with a presentation of MIJARC Europe and the projects it had developed with S&G and it continued with a session in which those attended had the chance to reflect on their own knowledge, attitude and general feelings towards extremism and radicalization. Next, the attendees were involved in a discussion with a professor for Gazi University, trying to find an answer to the question “What can be done in order to prevent or reduce the frequency of these acts?”. The SWOT analysis method was used for the suggested solutions. The entire event enabled the participants to enrich their knowledge on the topic of extremism and to use it in order to bring about a change in attitude in their communities.

The round tables are the third and final phase of our work plan “Radically against extremism”. The work plan is supported by the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe, a unique foundation supporting activities developed with, for and by young people.

Workplan_1In 2017 MIJARC Europe is running an annual Work Plan on the topics of radicalisation and extremism. The main aim of the work plan is to reach out to young women and men living in rural areas in Europe and support them in resisting and countering radicalisation and violent extremism.

This annual work plan will include a series of three activities which are interconnected and build on each other:

Workplan_21. “Visiting at the speed of radicalisation” a study visit in Brussels for a group of 12 young people. The aim of the visit is to create a group of multipliers that will be the Think Tank preparing and facilitating the next activity, the seminar. The idea is for the participants to have meetings with representatives of European institutions involved in the prevention of and fight against radicalisation of young people, encounters with experts on the topic of social inclusion and extremism and with European and international NGOs who run projects in the field. This activity will set the context for having a unified and prepared team able to run a quality seminar but it will also contribute to building the capacity of our member movements. It will give participants the chance to develop competencies that reduce their vulnerability to extremist views and at the same time it will motivate them to invest their energy in addressing these issues in their organisations and communities.

Workplan_32. “Open Minds, Open Doors”an international seminar prepared and facilitated by the people who attended the study visit which will be built on the knowledge and skills acquired during the first phase. The seminar will be centered on the issue of vulnerability of rural young people to radicalisation, focusing on sharing the realities of each country, on the exchange of opinions and on concrete solutions at local level. The seminar will use the traditional MIJARC Europe methodology of “See-Judge-Act” looking first at the contextual, personal and ideological factors that increase the vulnerability to radicalization of young people living in rural areas, then analyzing which of these factors have the greatest influence and finally deciding what measures to take and what tools to use in order to increase their resilience. The seminar serves to enable the critical thinking of participants and the reinforcement of our shared values. It helps participants develop competencies that reduce their vulnerability and it motivates them to take all these to the next level to inform and inspire others.Workplan_4

3. “Think European, share locally” – local round tables gathering rural NGOs, representatives of local public authorities and young people in order to present the results of the international activities and use the position paper as a starting point in analysing and re-discussing the local strategy on preventing radicalisation, fighting extremist attitudes and building resilience.

Our annual work plan in 2017 is implemented with the financial support of the Council of Europe through the European Youth Foundation.