Minority engagement project
Text and images by Lars Witberg
The idea is to launch a series of projects to battle the challenges we face in minority-concentrated areas. Our goal is to create positive magnetism in learning institutions and community centers, breaking barriers of discrimination and engaging all age groups – starting with the children.
LWEX is involved in several humanitarian, social, and environmental projects. We seek projects where our expertise can be used to create a better world.
And this is what the MEP is all about. We launch small projects aimed at specific targets with a clear goal to engage groups and create positive magnetism.
And we do it with art, literature, music, dance, sport, handy crafts, and food. Because these are areas with a predefined positive connection to people across borders, cultures, and backgrounds. It is easy to set up and it creates positive engagement instantly. And if we do it constantly and over time, we manage to create a lasting change. Once the positive engagement is established it is possible to add important elements like education, work, health, welfare, and community integration.
The model is not new and projects like ours are working other places but it has not been tried here in Bulgaria before. The founder and enthusiastic leader of MEP, Yaakov Djarassi, has a dream of creating the same effect as in Tel Aviv.
The Bialik-Rogozin School project, was opened by the city of Tel Aviv 15 years ago with the goal of helping migrant children, most of them undocumented and economically disadvantaged, thrive educationally and emotionally. It is supported by donations and volunteers. It was open from early morning to late at night and parents could bring the kids to school and stay to get help with a variety of other things like legal advice, healthcare, work, and other integration issues. This school has been a great success and works as a model for other cities.
We are now creating the same in Sofia, Bulgaria. A little different but the same model. We set it up in the biggest Roma ghetto in Sofia called the Fakulteta. It is home to over 60.000 people and they have all the same challenges you see in other minority-concentrated areas in the Western world.
We have now defied a variety of projects over a long period of time, and we see it works and give the target effect. Our base for our project is the one and only children’s school in the middle of Fakulteta and the next-door community center.
The projects so far are as follows:
The Classic Music project is a long project starting with buying and installing a large piano in the community center. It serves as a central hub for various musical artists we are bringing in to play and it has opened up for piano lessons for kids.
The Dance Project is an established dance group rehearsing twice per week under the leadership of our dance teacher,
Radoslava Dobreva, a former member of the Bulgarian Olympic Gymnast team, teaches the kids how to dance. They have put together a full dance show they now perform in public.
Let Kids Inspire Kids, is a music project where we mix our music playing kids with kids outside the Fakulteta. The idea is that they inspire each other, learn from each other, and hopefully break some stigma barriers.
The Choir is a children’s Choir under the leadership of our conductor Anita Kolarova. It is for both boys and girls.
The VR Gallery is a virtual reality gallery together with the Bulgarian National Gallery and various other artists and the goal is to bring art out to the communities in a fun, modern and new way for inspiration and learning.
The Minority Engagement Project is an idea to spark engagement by launching several small projects in communities in need of change. LWEX has contributed by being a partner supplying ideas, development, and an active part in all the projects.