More Details on Roma Virtual Network
The Roma Virtual Network (RVN) is a grass-roots initiative aimed to provide the international Roma community and friendly non-Roma organizations and individuals with useful information on Roma issues in variety of languages via the Internet.
Since its` establishment in the summer of 1999 its` activity is actively helping to facilitate the cooperation and exchange of information between Roma organizations and individuals, between Roma and non-Roma organizations and individuals and also between Roma NGOs and official institutions. It deals with a variety of Roma-related political, cultural, economic and social issues on local and international levels. RVN aims to support the improvement of the situation of Romani people in Europe and other parts of the world.
The Roma Virtual Network wants to stimulate the progress of all Roma, especially the ones involved in the international Romani movement, with a focus on the emerging strata of young Roma leaders and public diplomats, some of whom are working on EU-level and in national governmental institutions. Beside these categories, it serves as a source of comprehensive and up-to-date information on a wide range of topics and aspects connected to the Roma issue (education, employment, housing, equality, women rights, anti-trafficking, Romani language, cultural life, etc.).
It`s audience include EU-level policy-makers, civil servants, human rights activists and media. It is also a reliable electronic archive of Roma-related news items posted on-line since October 2001. RVN contains 33 electronic mailing lists in 20 languages (including Romani) with a total membership of over 11 800 email addresses.
History of the Project
It was started as a private initiative of a person from a Romani background who was born in Ukraine, but resides in Israel. This initiative had been initially supported by the small group of Roma who immigrated to Israel from the countries of ex-USSR as the members of mixed Romani-Jewish families. Shortly the initiative gained the recognition of many national and international, governmental and non-governmental organizations dealing with Roma issues, especially in Europe.
One of the reasons for such recognition is the fact that RVN started to address the need of Roma and Roma-friendly audience in timely and non-biased information on Roma issues. Since the very beginning this public media initiative did it`s best in turning the chaotic and biased Internet into Roma-friendly sphere.
Twelve years of ongoing activity of RVN proved this initiative to be very important for the progress of all Roma, especially the ones involved in the international Romani movement and, especially, for the emerging strata of young Roma leaders and public diplomats, some of whom are working on EU-level and in national governmental institutions since 2004. Beside these categories, it serves as a source of comprehensive and up-to-date information on the variety of topics and aspects connected to the Roma issue (education, employment, housing, equality, women rights, anti-trafficking, Romani language, cultural life, etc.) for EU-level policy-makers, civil servants and human rights activists.
During the first seven years of it`s intensive activities Roma Virtual Network was supported with occasional donations from friendly individuals, churches and NGOs. Since 20 March 2006 RVN`s activities are sustainably supported thanks to the grants of Open Society Roma Initiatives (earlier known as Roma Participation Programme).
Interaction with audience
The main target groups of RVN are the activists of international Roma movement, ordinary Roma (community members and assimilated ones), financial donors, foundations, non-governmental organizations, human rights activists, governmental institutions, scholars, the ones who research, help and teach Roma. In numbers, these are, at least, 10 800 members of RVN`s listserves. These people are of different age and socio-economic background living across the globe (with majority in Europe). RVN is not limited only to European Roma affairs, but covers with it`s activities Roma living all over the world. RVN serves equally to Roma and to non-Roma.
RVN carries it`s activities on-line. They mainly consist in collection, selection, research and dissemination of information on history, culture and contemporary situation and mobilisation of Roma communities throughout the world and the other topics connected with Roma. They also include follow-up with the contributing authors, location of new organizations, activists, assistance to internal communication between Roma activists and to human rights activists looking for contact with Roma communities.
Further interaction with on-line audience through numerous Roma web sites, listserves of RVN, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and discussion boards with the aim of further constructing of social alliances between Roma and galvinizing the progress of the Roma political movement. RVN has popularity and good reputation among Roma civil society and, among the other positive factors, the „word of mouth“ helps it to grow.
Implemented and current information projects:
In chronological order
- Net support to The Society of Domari Gypsies in Israel.
Since 21.10.1999 till today.
Result: Affirmation and promotion of Israeli Gypsy organization via e-mailing lists and two webpages in cooperation with Domari Research Center (based in Cyprus).
Current URL: http://domarisociety.googlepages.com/
- Net support to International Romani Union (IRU).
Since 27.07.2000 till today.
Result: Affirmation and promotion of IRU`s activities via e-mailing lists.
Activities done on behalf of IRU: Distribution of useful information regarding other Roma organizations and communities worldwide. Reply on inquiries. Information research upon requests.
- Net cooperation with Spolu International Foundation (Spolu IF).
Since 24.09.2002 till today.
Result: Promotion of Spolu Foundation`s activities via the listserves of RVN.
- Net cooperation with European Roma Information Office (ERIO).
Result: Elaboration of ERIO`s database system, regular dissemination of e-news and press-releases, research on the policies of European institutions regarding Roma.
Since 18.03.2003 till today.
- Net cooperation with Minority Rights Group Europe (MRGE).
Result: Regular dissemination of MRGE Roma-related communications. Supply of MRGE with the useful information on the situation of Roma in Europe.
- Net support to European Roma and Traveler Forum (ERTF).
Since 14.07.2004 till today.
Result: Regular dissemination of ERTF`s news items via RVN`s listserves. Regular supply of ERTF with the information regarding other Roma organizations and communities worldwide.
- Net cooperation with International Debate Education Association (IDEA).
Consultancy to Roma Debate Project. Editing of Roma web page and of discussion platform hosted on a website of IDEA. Weekly promotion of IDEA`s Roma web page. Weekly posting of Roma-related discussion topic on http://debatewise.org/ (starting from 12 April 2010).
Since 1 March 2006 till today.
The listserves of RVN
Mentioned below listserves of RVN (29 on Yahoogroups and 4 on Googlegroups) help to educate up to 10 800 Roma and concerned non-Roma with reliable updated information (in 20 languages) regarding the situation of Roma in particular countries and regarding the various aspects of Roma life. A lot of international human rights activists (especially in Europe) and staff of international institutions (including of EU-level) are subscribed there. They are regularly updated on Roma issues due to the activity of Roma Virtual Network.
Listserves on Yahoogroups:
Listserves on Googlegroups:
There is one more listserve on Googlegroups, which often features the news items (in English) from RVN (via email@example.com) and which is not the member of RVN. This is https://groups.google.com/group/hate-monitor-net started on 26 March 2008. It contains more then 1 100 e-mail addresses and regularly features the articles related to the issues of anti-Semitism, anti-Gypsism and Islamophobia.
Challenges and Lessons
The main challenge for RVN was in attempts of some high-level Roma activists to force the Network`s Editor to follow their own agenda in “likes” and “dislikes” toward the other Roma activists and supportive institutions (including OSF). However, it did not work as they wished and RVN remains neutral does not matter how strong the fights and attitudes within the international Roma movement are. Moreover, the Editor does his best not to show on-line that such fights even exist, even while many activists know about them. Editor`s position in this issue is strongly supported by the members of RVN`s Advisory Board.
There were also attempts to involve the Editor into “Roma vs gadje” discourse. But it does not work in a way that people with chauvinistic tendencies want and the Editor either declines to participate in such dubious talks or protests them when the fast reaction is needed. RVN also is never a source or channel of rumors or criticism about someone`s personal life. And if some civil society activists show the weakness in touching someone`s privacy in their off-line and on-line talks, then RVN and the Editor is never the harbor for such misconduct.
In all cases that may cause problems for RVN the Editor asks the advice either of the members of RVN`s Advisory Board or of persons with expertise on the topic of a problem. It is always done in a delicate and confidential way.
Thus, practice makes perfect!
Send your comments, questions, suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Executive Editor, Roma Virtual Network.
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