From June 3rd to 5th U.S. Embassy Political/Economic Officer Justin Heung participated in the Center for Interethnic Dialogue and Tolerance Amalipe’s 13th Annual Children’s Roma Festival “Open Hearts” in Veliko Tarnovo. This year’s festival focused on the themes of friendship and tolerance. Eighteen hundred children from more than 100 schools that represent different ethnic groups from around the country and abroad participated in an evening parade, dances, singing, and presentations of ethnic traditions, crafts, and culture. The events included a roundtable led by the Ambassadorial GROUP for Roma integration and AMALIPE on “Best Practices For Integration,” with welcome remarks by H.E. Ambassador of the Kingdom of Norway H.E. Katharina Guro Vikor, Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Policy Katharina Denitsa Sacheva and Deputy Minister Ministry of Education and Science Krassimir Kiriakov.
Amalipe is the largest Roma NGO in Bulgaria and focuses on the improvement of the educational, health and social-economic status of Roma. One of its signature programs focuses reducing the dropout rate of Roma children from school, a program that covers more than 37,000 children at 170 schools throughout the country.