The NGOs represented by the participants work mainly with vulnerable groups (eg.: disabled, Roma, homeless, drug users, homosexuals) by providing services for these groups. The main aim of these organizations is the empowerment of their target groups and the shaping the public attitude and relationship towards them with educational and sensitization programs. The visited organizations in Oslo are working in similar fields as well.
The colleague of LLH – a Norwegian LGBTQ organization – introduced an education program targeted towards the employees of the institutions (teachers, policemen, etc.). Instead of ideological beliefs this program focuses on helping the employees work more effectively in their institutions. They believe that humor can be often more effective than a warrior approach.
The European Wergeland Center‘s staff presented their work done for the development of democratic education across Europe, emphasizing that meaningful change can only be achieved if we work together on a partnership basis, and on the long run, with the teachers, parents and children together. They recommended the Compass and Small Compass publications issued by the Council of Europe in which you find helpful interactive excercises on the topics of human rights and democracy education.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee presented their activities in human rights education as well. They believe that human rights education of young people can only be effective if we connect it with intercultural learning and interactive excercises related to their real life. A film about a former international project in a camp for young Serbian and Albanian people also proved that hatred and prejudices against one another can be easily dismantled through real encounters, understanding, honest discussions and games.
The Norwegian People’s Aid informed the participants about international developments and services provided for refugees. They have also discussed the international challanges and opportunities of the current refugee situation. Frambu, a center of rare diseases, organizes year-round groups for people living with rare diseases and their families, focusing on development and support for independent living.
Kirkens Bymisjon is a church organization providing services for groups that fall even through the dense safety net of the social services in Norway. Among many other things they organize Norwegian language courses, as well as sewing and knitting courses for Roma people coming from Eastern Europe. The goal is to empower them and give them the skills to start their own income- generating activities. The organization provides also housing and support in the house of Kafé Saba to people suffering from drug and psychiatric problems.
The participants have also learned about the history of Norway in the Intercultural Museum and in the Oslo School Museum. The exhibition presenting the history of the handful of Roma minority in Norway showed that the Norwegian state contributed to the deportation of Roma people to German workcamps and also that sterilization of Roma people happened even in the fifties; the government recognized its wrongdoings and has oficially apologized the community for having carried out these policies. The School Museum showed also the story of thousands of teachers that had been imprisoned during the Second World War for showing resistance to the Nazi occupation. At the same time cooperative, experience-based education already appeared in the fifties and it has greatly contributed to the development of cooperation and a culture of debate among the citizens.
Read more about the NGO Programme in Hungary here.
Read more about the EEA and Norway Grants here.