Global Leaders program seeks Roma and Travellers – Apply now!

- News

The World Forum Foundation, is seeking exceptional candidates for the Global Leaders for Young Children Program.  Applications are being accepted through January 15, 2019. There is funding for the participation of two applicants from the Roma and Traveller community.

The World Forum Foundation believes that children need effective grassroots advocates.  The Global Leaders program was established with the goal of improving life chances for children by developing early childhood leaders who can become effective change agents and advocates in their home countries and regions.

community advocacy projects

Global Leaders engage in an 18 month program including face-to-face meetings, smaller regional gatherings, and video conferencing. The robust curriculum includes skill building in leadership and advocacy as well as activities leading to a deeper understanding of early childhood researched-based practices. Each Global Leader develops and carries out a community advocacy project aimed at improving the lives of children.

For more information on the Global Leaders Program click here.

Applications are due January 15, 2019 and may be downloaded here.

For additional information contact Laurie Hand.

“We share a desire to support children all over the world”, Global Leader for Young Children says

- Blog | Stanislav Daniel

Global Leaders for Young Children work in different countries to help children of minority communities. The one thing that emerged when we met them at the World Forum on Early Care and Education in New Zealand, is that despite the differences and the distances these communities often share similar issues.

Global Leader Siniša-Senad Musić at the World Forum

The Global Leaders for Young Children is a program aiming to support emerging influencers in early childhood education and care. The Romani Early Years Network (through its host – ISSA) got involved in the program with the current cohort of Global Leaders Europe. Six leaders receive training and additional support within the program as they are developing and implementing their advocacy projects for improved access for young Romani and Traveller children to quality early childhood services.

It has been more than three weeks now, since our delegation came back from the World Forum on Early Care and Education in New Zealand, one of the face-to-face meetings in the program which mostly runs online. We have already managed to clean our mailboxes and started our daily routines, but the Haka still resonates. The traditional war cry of Māori has been there all the time – welcoming us, entertaining us and telling us goodbye. New Zealand gave us a lesson how traditions are preserved in diversity.

“I felt completely pleased, challenged, loved, involved and energized at the same time,” says Sonila Dubare, one of the Global Leaders and child rights advocate from Albania. There were hundreds of participants at the Word Forum, and the world is what defines the attendees the best. Practitioners, experts, activists, social entrepreneurs and many other professionals working with all kinds of children were attending to learn from each other and contribute with their knowledge and expertise.

Learning from the similarities and inspiration from the differences – that could have easily been the motto. “I was surprised by how different our lives are in various circumstances and yet what we all shared was this unique desire to support children all over the world. We donate our free time as volunteers, we are not in this for money,” says another Global Leader, passion-driven Brigita Mark, who works as a civil servant.

Similarities between Roma and Travellers and other disadvantaged groups from around the world were significant. “I learned so much about different communities, from the Aboriginal groups in Australia to the Native American tribes of Dakota. It made me feel I am not alone in my efforts for cultural inclusion and preservation in education, to nurture the very being of our children,” comments Lisa Smith, a Romani Traveller from the UK and another Global Leader from Europe.

The energy was so strong that it reached Driton Berisha, children’s rights champion from Kosovo and a Global Leader, who could not participate at the World Forum. He said: “I am sure the positive energy would not have been easy to forget. I saw in the pictures; everyone brought a big smile with them.” We can only confirm that. World Forum gives us hope that the hundreds of attendees can make the world better for children around the world.

Find out more about the Global Leaders program here.

Driton Berisha: “what I learn tackles my bad habits”

- Blog | Noeleen OHara

Driton Berisha is a champion of Roma inclusion from Kosovo. A trailblazer in the Kosovo Roma-Ashkali-Egyptian Early Years Networks (KRAEEYN) and a participant of Global Leaders program building leadership capacities among early childhood advocates for Romani children. Driton is also the father of Nihada (7), Shaban (5), and Nihad (3).

It has been nine years since Driton started to work on the education of Romani children, including the very youngest. His focus on the science of early childhood development started with his engagement with the Kosova Education Center. “I believe that this a deep science and one of the most important ones for humankind. We need to accept that there is no end to how much we can learn about knowledge processing of children in early years.” Driton says he uses new knowledge his is acquiring to tackle his own bad habits by trying to improve his parenting skills and turning bad habits into good ones, and being proud of the good ones.

Driton lives with his wife Mirsada, their children, his father and sister. “We are not a small family”, he says. “But a very happy family.”

Mirsada is currently studying and hopes to find a job soon; on the meantime she is at home with the family. Of his wife Driton says “I believe her job is a lot harder than mine, even when I am at home.” “I cannot imagine a more loving mother for my children than my wife” And through the lens of an early childhood professional, Driton exclaims “by doing that she does with the children, Mirsada is one of the best experts!”

In Romani communities, especially the more traditional ones, parenting is often the mother’s role; something that Driton is trying to address in both his personal and professional life. At the Kosova Education Center they work with all the stakeholders that influence early childhood development such as organizations and institutions, government officials, preschools, teachers, fathers, mothers, grandparents, and other important stakeholders that come across.  Within their everyday work, they try to bring excitement to routine by providing expertise, news and experiences from around the world.

“My childhood was not a lot different from the childhood of my children. My parents offered everything they could to me and my sisters. We always had what we needed, and sometimes that was challenging for my parents,” Driton remembers. His gratitude to his parents is enormous, but he says speaking of them as amazing is just being objective.

Sharing information about parents and parenting skills is crucial. “At the Kosova Education Center, we tell the parents that they are doing much more than just parenting. We explain that by talking to their children,  letting them make mistakes, by playing with them,  telling them stories,  encouraging them and supporting positive behaviors, and letting them express their feelings, they are fulfilling not only their dreams as parents but their children’s rights to become healthy adults. This is what I say to my family as well,” Driton concludes.