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About Us

Donka Panayotova is the chairperson of NGO Organization Drom. She established the organization in 1997 as a human rights NGO and three years later started implementing the most publicized education initiative in Central and Eastern Europe, namely, the pilot project for the desegregation of Roma education, the so-called “Vidin desegregation model”. Ms. Panayotova has a Master Degree in Pedagogy from Sofia University “Kliment Ohridski”, 20 years of experience as a teacher, and 12 years of experience in the non-governmental sector. She is the co-author of two books “The Sociometry: science or method” (2007) and “The children are growing” (2009), and she also published numerous articles and has given interviews for the national and international press and the electronic media. Ms. Panayotova has been a speaker in international conference events in Belgium, Hungary, Romania, Serbia, South Africa, etc.

NGO Organization Drom is worldwide famous for starting the pilot project for desegregation of Roma education in the Bulgarian town of Vidin. It is a best case practice for an NGO that has pursued equal access to quality education for Roma children in integrated school environments. In 2000, the project was initiated by Ms. Donka Panayotova (chairperson) and started with 100 Roma children bused from the Roma segregated neighbourhood in Vidin to integrated school environments. In 2010, there are over 4,000 Roma children educated in integrated school environments due to the desegregation programs in 11 Bulgarian towns, which followed the example of Vidin. About 400 Roma children alone are involved in the Vidin Desegregation Program in school year 2009/2010, led by NGO Organization Drom.

FOUNDATION

NGO Organization Drom is a Vidin based non-governmental non-profit organization, registered within the Vidin District Court on September 15, 1997. The organization was pre-registered, as per new legal requirements with court decision No.382/21.10.2002 and was enlisted in the Central Registrar for legal entities with non-governmental goal for public activities under No. 20031208016.

MISSION

Support the integration of Roma within Bulgarian society, thus helping the process of democratization and European integration.

GOALS

 

  • monitor and report the human rights situation of Roma in Bulgaria;
  • provide legal aid for Bulgarian citizens of Roma origin in cases of infringement of their human rights;
  • promote integration through education and access to quality education for Roma;
  • help economically disadvantaged Roma integrate in the society;
  • distribute information for cases in which the human rights of Roma are violated;
  • act as a social mediator between Roma and the local authorities;
  • coordinate with other NGOs working for the integration of Roma within Bulgarian society;
  • promote the Roma ethno culture in order to create tolerant attitude towards Roma.
     

ACTIVITIES

  Legal counselling and legal aid
In 1997 we started as a Human Rights Advocacy NGO for the protection of Roma rights and interests. The organization used to provide legal counselling and legal aid in court for discriminated Roma. The problem of ethnic discrimination, which the Roma from the north-western part of Bulgaria encountered was two-fold. On the one hand, it was revealed in their contacts with Institutions (Police, Social Services, Bureau of Labour, Court and Prosecutor’s Office, Municipality), while on the other hand, it was experienced in contacts with ordinary citizens. The legal practice of the NGO for a period of ten years reached: legal counselling provided to about 1500 citizens of Roma origin; around 500 complaints for discrimination; and 63 legal cases supported, three cases out of these went to the European Human Rights Court in Strasbourg. During the course of our legal work until 2007, we were supported by the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (Sofia, Bulgaria), European Roma Rights Centre (Budapest, Hungary), Minority Rights Group International (London, UK), Amnesty International (London, UK) and Human Rights Watch (New York, USA).

  Education
The desegregation process, led by NGO Organization Drom, started in June 2000 and its basic idea is to provide free access to quality education for Romani children from the all-Romani segregated „Nov Pat” quarter to the mainstream schooling system. For more on this, please see “Education”.

  Media
NGO Organization Drom develops video films, runs documentary programs on Regional TV and works closely with the regional, national and international print media. Moreover, the organization works closely with national and international policy makers on human rights campaigns and campaigns, targeting introduction of strategies and legislation that embrace equal participation of Roma in public life. For more on this, please see “Advocacy”

  International cooperation
NGO Organization Drom representatives take part in international activities and keep contact with international NGOs. In the near future, we are planning to strengthen our role in the international environment through cross-border cooperation.