On the base of its prior research and activist expertise, and networking with civil society organizations, academic and public institutions, during the past two months Desire Foundation elaborated and submitted three project proposals for the NGO Funds in Romania (Engagement for Social Justice and Respect – “IDRES”; Socio-Educational Services for Roma Inclusion – “ROMEDIN”; and “POLROM N-V”: Think tank and civic network for Roma policies in the North West Development Region). These are mobilizing civic engagement for the territorial desegregation of the deprived Pata Rat area of Cluj-Napoca and are acting with and on the behalf of the dispossessed communities inhabiting it.
Through their complex activities, the proposed projects support long-term cooperation between the public and private sector, respond to the challenges of socio-spatial exclusion in the context of Cluj-Napoca and behind local level, promote democratic values and active citizenship, empower civil society organizations and vulnerable groups and as well as their ability to work in partnership, develop the capacity of NGOs to elaborate evidence-based policies and promote them in a participatory manner at local, regional and national level. The three projects linked by each other through our intersectional approach towards social exclusion and inclusion will act as a program of integrated measures targeting marginalized communities, majority population and institutional contexts. Together, but by different instruments, they are going to contribute to the creation of socio-human and institutional conditions that are necessary to achieve the shared goal of transforming Cluj into an inclusive city where everyone, regardless of ethnicity, gender and social status, have access to goods and quality services, may live a dignified life and participate on the democratic governance of the city. The project prepared for Component 5 – also due to its organizational partners from the North-Vest Development Region of Romania – goes behind the city of Cluj as it explicitly targets results, which might be used in different regions and at central level. But, generally speaking, each of our project proposals has the potential of elaborating and testing innovative models for civic action transcending local contexts. Together, they express our view according to which civil society organizations – despite the fact that they might have an important role in providing social services – should act as agents of critical thinking and acting that raise awareness about the accountability of state institutions, academic knowledge production, majority population and marginalized communities themselves in the effort to reduce the effects of social marginalization resulted from the way in which the current neoliberal regime functions, induces human rights violations, underdevelopment, inequality and racism.