By Maria Felix Rodriguez
On December 3 and 4, 2019 Romomatter celebrated a Project meeting in Alicante, which was the third time that all of the Project participants have come together.
The meeting gave facilitators from different places, such as Cordoba, Romania, Bulgaria, Alicante and Seville, the opportunity to meet.
They were able to exchange ideas and questions related to the methodology and resources that will be needed to carry out the Project successfully.
On December 3, at the Virgen of Carmen Community Center in Alicante, the facilitators shared their visions in an intense work session. The work included training on working with the photovoice technique with Roma girls. Photovoice is one of the principal techniques that the Project will use in its Participatory Action Research with Roma girls.
Facilitators gathered to discuss how the use of the Photovoice methodology will be implemented with Roma girls’ communities.
As a research technique, Photovoice is a technique used to document and reflect reality while empowering communities that are the subject of research. Participants express their views or lives by photographing scenes that they feel relevant to the research topics, and later photographs and their narratives are collectively explored by communities and researchers.
Later different group work sessions worked on distributing the photographs. Each group commented on the images, adding descriptions and later a categorization.
Then groups shared their ideas and worked to arrive at consensus about how to unify the criteria of each group.
Although facilitators had to address language issues that prevented more fluid participation, there were moments in which facilitators connected in such a way that not even language could prevent them from sharing their views on the importance of their role as facilitators in this project. Facilitators are strengthened greatly by their roles and the leadership and respect the exhibit as a part of the Roma community.
In the session, there were also partners present from the universities of Bergen, Alicante and Seville as these institutions make up the Romomatter Technical Team.
Each one of the facilitators showed an image related to the work she carries out in the respective community of origin. Raquel, a facilitator from Seville, showed the importance of learning to interpret images, in addition to words.
Learning new ways of interpreting reality is fundamental to helping us understand Roma girls’ life projects and dreams.
This new form of reading or interpreting contains elements that helped us reflect as a group on aspects that are transcendental to the lives of Roma girls, who have adolescent dreams and life projects in the works.
As shown in the image here, there was debate about different points of view, images were analyzed and grouped into three categories: 1) unity/harmony, 2) culture as a source of strength, and 3) pride and confidence.
This session highlighted all of the steps that will be taken in the project’s work with girls and their families. We all shared ideas and our ways of working. This will serve us when we start carrying out the work with families.
There were certain steps that were impossible to take due to the lack of time during the session. We will probably need to hold some of our sessions on Skype, and we will include facilitators as well and help develop a method of communication that works for everyone.
Overall, however, the session held as a part of this overall project meeting was a success in terms of the active participation and shared knowledge of the facilitators. Their know-how and expertise is essential for the success of Romomatter.