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The lessons a trainer learns

What kind of support do we need to provide to deprived women who want to become professionals in early childhood? Our REYN Hungary program aims at training five Romani women to find a job as kindergarten assistants. This post talks about the lessons I have learned as their trainer. I am Flora Bacso, Trainer and Mentor at Partners Hungary Foundation.

What challenges do you think you will encounter if you fight for Romani women’s emancipation? Lack of programs and funds? Too few training opportunities? A discouraging job market? Biases towards Roma? You could probably go on with the list.

What can we do about the challenges?

I have been mentoring five Romani women for a year now.  They trained to become kindergarten assistants, read more about this in my previous post.

My role as a mentor is to motivate the mentees during and after their training. More importantly, I help them with any kind of issue they encounter when trying to enter the early childhood care profession.

It is extremely hard to bring a twist in the lives of people who are disadvantaged. As a mentor, you can get discouraged a times.

Consider this: Romani families expect the women to be in charge of the houses and to take care of the children. This puts already a heavy burden on them and it is something they can hardly change.

In addition, deprivation affects them on many levels: financially, spatially, they fear the unknown, and resent over previous failure.

In such a situation it is key to acknowledge and celebrate success however small that may be. Small success can be hard to see at first as progress is seldom linear. Progress is rather made of setbacks and advancements; this can be fatiguing mentally.

Lessons Learned

The deeper I got into the program, the more support I needed as a professional. Whoever works with people surely have found themselves asking questions about the work they have been doing.

Unique situations demand self-reflection and unique solutions. Am I doing it right? Is this enough progress? Do I see all the options? Besides discussing such questions with my Roma and non-Roma colleagues which proved to be a great resource, I also started to attend supervision training sessions which taught me a great deal about valuing small successes and progress.

Eva Csutka, my supervisor, who is a chief social worker working at a temporary home for deprived families in Budapest sums it up:

 “When we work with people who live in deprivation, we always have to tailor the goals to their circumstances and possibilities. It is not realistic to set goals which are not flexible. The most we can do is to build a solid personal connection and being very clear about our own boundaries and competence. … Sometimes as mentors, we don’t even see the effect we had on the people we have worked with for a long time. Maybe we are the first in offering professional support: without paternalizing them, minimizing their problems or resenting them for being slow to change. But this is how we sow the seeds that might help them build momentum for small changes: being empathic and non-judgemental, empowering them to make decisions that fit their lives.”

In the course of the following weeks, I will look at the unique challenges we faced with each of the mentees of the Romani Early Years Hungary program. I will show concrete examples of what has made a difference and also what advises I have given to them. The more we learn from such field experiences, the better support we can give to Romani women. At Partners Hungary Foundation, our aim is to build a fairer society, step by step.

By Flóra Bacsó, Trainer and Mentor at Partners Hungary Foundation.

Empowering Romani Women in Hungary – Part 1.

One of the REYN objectives is to increase diversity in the workforce. In this blog, Flóra Bacsó of Partners Hungary Foundation reports on how she coached five Romani women to become kindergarten assistants in six months. This is the first of a series of eight blog posts that Eva will publish on this matter.

Professionals working in early childhood services have been voicing for a long time that having more Romani colleagues would support Romani children’s inclusion. The reason is that for children it is easier to relate to people that have the same cultural background.

Where this has happened, professionals report very positive experiences. For example, in a primary school in the town of Nyírbátor, where they have an intercultural mediator, more and more Roma parents have started to attend parents’ meetings. 

In Hungary, REYN provides free training to its members. The network is made mostly of professionals who work with young children in education and care.

It’s a “win win”

For Romani women it is often difficult to get qualifications and jobs. Therefore, lately REYN Hungary has organized a cycle of training sessions to include Romani women in the early childhood profession. Such training offers to Romani women a chance to professionalize and to take their life into their own hands. 

Five Romani women have acquired the qualification of Assistant Caregiver in the past six months. They have demonstrated strong dedication and resilience: along with their full-time job, they have attended weekend training sessions, they have performed 80-hour of kindergarten practice and have passed their exams with very good results. The program has been provided by Partners Hungary Foundation, REYN host in the country. Since October 2018, Partners Hungary has also provided the participants with mentoring in completing the exams and finding a job. Stay tuned to learn more …

By Flóra Bacsó, Partners Hungary Foundation.

“I believe that the challenges we face are opportunities to grow, given that we have a working method to deal with these challenges. Originally a teacher, I am now a mediator, restorative facilitator, trainer and project manager at Partners Hungary. I am fascinated by the synergy of the methods I can use to overcome difficult situations in human relationships, all of which aim towards enhancing cooperation and maximizing positive human interaction. As a mentor of five wonderful Romani women in REYN, I learned to appreciate the smallest successes and I am honoured to walk along these wonderful people.”

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.