REYN Bulgaria Role Models: Three Young Roma Women on Achieving their Dreams

Established in 2018, REYN Bulgaria offers positive role models in the field of early childhood development, improves the quality of education, integrates health care and education more effectively in the early years, with an emphasis on nutrition. Bulgarian REYN unites efforts for the advocacy in the field of early childhood development with a focus on improving access, quality, and results in health care for children from the Roma community. To emphasize the efforts and work in promoting successful role models, REYN Bulgaria interviewed three active participants of the REYN Bulgaria Network, who told more about their experience in the field of early childhood development.

The video stories present the personal journeys of Roma women Raya, Toshka and Mariela. They are active members of the REYN Bulgaria Network and participate in the “Young Roma Teachers” project.

“The stories of Raya, Toshka and Mariela are crucial examples of the impact of role models on motivating young children to continue their personal development and to not give up on their dreams. On the screen, the audience can see three young women who chose the difficult path towards becoming kindergarten teachers. They are ready to face possible hardships and challenges they might encounter during their personal and professional development journey. The stories of Raya, Toshka and Mariela prove that successful role models can positively impact the development of children at an early age,” says Ivan Ivanov, the REYN Bulgaria coordinator.

The REYN Bulgaria Network supports young and ambitious people of Roma origin in achieving their dreams for professional and educational realization. The Trust for Social Achievement implements the “Young Roma Teachers” project, and supports young people of Roma origin who wish to become kindergarten teachers. In this way, it also helps build successful role models that contribute to the better development of Roma children and increase their motivation and desire to learn.

Supporting Roma women to become early childhood professionals in Hungary

Access and the quality of services can be increased by ensuring more diversity in the workforce. The REYN National Network Hungary has been training Roma women to help them entering the profession.

“I am really grateful for this opportunity, I have always wanted to work with children but could never afford to study. I used to work in a kindergarten but couldn’t keep the job because I wasn’t qualified”, says Eva. She prefers not to disclose her real name for privacy reasons.

With other Roma women, Eva followed a training provided and financed by the REYN National Network Hungary. She is now a qualified kindergarten technical assistant.

REYN Hungary has been recently supporting the professional development of Roma women in early childhood education and care.

Diversity in the workforce

“It is important to have caregivers and assistants with a diverse background. We are happy that this project can contribute to it”, said Flora Bacso, training coordinator for REYN Hungary.

The evidence is clear, having teachers and care givers with the same cultural background as the children is an asset that can be used for building trust with children and families.

“My dream is to provide a solid emotional background to deprived children in the early years”, Eva says. “Once, we had a little boy who was living with his grandfather in a bungalow” – she continues. “They didn’t have running water, so the child’s clothes were often not clean. While many of the staff and the children kept a distance from him, I bathed him and washed his clothes. My colleagues were not sure this was a good move, these are not tasks that are usually done by kindergarten assistants. However, when I saw that other children started to play with him, I knew I was doing the right thing”, Eva concludes.

“It is inspiring to work with motivated people who are studying for a new career with all the effort it takes. Despite coming from low income families they manage to raise their children, follow their classes on Saturdays, study for the exams and still do 40 hours of kindergarten practice per month. I am honored to be their mentor”, Flora Bacso declares.

REYN Hungary

REYN Hungary is a vibrant national network that offers its members opportunities for professional development across the early childhood development sector and advocates for more Roma early childhood professionals in the country. They also promote access to high quality services for young Roma children and families.

Read more about REYN Hungary.

REYN Hungary: training for early childhood professionals helps prevent burnout

- News

Early childhood professionals mention heavy workload and low recognition of their role among the main causes of stress. The REYN National Network in Hungary helps the early childhood workforce strengthen their capacity and advocates for their well-being.

REYN Hungary builds the capacity of early childhood professionals who work with Roma in the country. One of their workshops, titled “Burnout prevention for professionals working with Roma children”, recently tripled the amount of applications and had great reviews by participants. The training was delivered to health visitors, child protection workers, kindergarten teachers and principals.

“I felt like I needed this training because, as an health visitor, I wanted to keep delivering despite the difficult circumstances. I did not have the chance to attend such a training for many years”, says Csilla Kuráthné Ábel, a participant.

People working in early childhood settings have an important role in the children’s development and it is therefore key to support their well-being.

Alarmingly, the early childhood workforce is at higher risk of stress if compared it with other professionals. As indicated by the Early Childhood Workforce Initiative, “61 percent of educators reported that their work is “always” or “often” stressful”. Among the causes they mention there are: “high-stakes job demands, limited resources and professional autonomy, and negative school climate”.

Hungary is not an exception. The participants reported high bureaucratic burden, heavy workload and low pay. “There is a significant number of unfilled vacancies and young people are not motivated to choose this career”, Csilla declares. “More prevention is needed but this is not happening due to the lack of financial resources and lack of care for staff.”

REYN Hungary strives to create professional learning communities to facilitate exchange, raise awareness and help prevent burnout.

“As REYN National Network in Hungary, we know that only a happy teacher can make children happy” – says Zsuzsa Laszlo, REYN Coordinator – “for this reason we often organize training for early childhood professionals. We believe it is important to empower people who work with Romani children and families.”

Participants highly appreciated the training, “I was delighted to have the opportunity to join”, says Csilla. “I am thankful for this. Because dealing with small children takes a lot from professionals and such professional and human recharging opportunities are important”, says Baranyi Marcsi, another participant.

REYN Hungary offers different types of training all year long, many of which are for free or at discounted rates for the members. Learn more and join their network.