In Romani language there is no real word for future but one for a tomorrow: THARA – a media lab fostering contemporary self-empowerment of Roma and Sinti teens

idea | concept | project development alexandra reill
production kanonmedia
in cooperation with Romano Drom / Verein Alte Fleischerei backbone / Volkshilfe Österreich / WAFF | vienna, 2004-2006

kanonmedia as a NPO with expertise in new technologies in the context of experimental as much as sociocultural applications developed the idea to found a self-empowerment center for Roma and Sinti teens co-run by representatives of the indigenious culture. The kernel of the idea was the combination of creative production in the framework of a hi-tec media lab and traditional indigenious approaches to the arts and cultural production to enhance preparedness to education and job orientation among teens concerned.

Within the framework of the nEwC_baselines project developed by kanonmedia, THARA was funded by the European Union Initiative EQUAL by means of the European Social Fund and means of the Austrian Federal Ministry for Economics and Employment. Strategic partners were Arbeiterkammer Wien, Wirtschaftskammer Wien and, on the extended level, Fonds Soziales Wien, Landesjugendreferat der Stadt Wien, AMS Vienna for teens et al.

The project was to be implemented as an interdisciplinary competence network of kanonmedia; Romano Drom, a Roma and Sinti-NPO working in the context of Roma culture and intercultural exchange; and the youth center back bone 20; the three NPOs active on the operative level accompanied by WAFF as coordinating organization for all EQUAL partnerships in Vienna at that time.

With THARA, Roma and Sinti in Vienna could rely upon a culture-immanent contact point focussing on culture-specific problems in diverse social segments. Individual learning and learning in groups enhanced the chance to finish school. Computer workshops and team work projects generated joyful experiences and helped aiming at the compensation of educational deficits and an increase of the general level of education, depending on individual needs. Continuous coaching and activation of teens increased the willingness and capacities to develop job visions and realistic job expectations and to undertake active steps to achieve the goals developed.

The creative use of culture-immanent methods in combination with the use of ICT aimed at increasing self-esteem, strengthened identity, self-activation and approaches to successful job orientation. Continuous counselling for teens and family members, active job placing and coaching of the teens under intensive networking and cooperation with public authorities and organizations being active in the field of labour market policy aimed at helping the Roma and Sinti cultures to survive and continue living their cultural approaches and at the same time include themselves in a global society. Through international lobbying for the needs of a cultural group which still belongs to the poorest and most diffamed ethnicities of Europe, THARA intensively enhanced and on a high level succeeded in transferring know-how to partners of expertise in the fields concerned and the dissemination of information on a national and transnational basis.

In 2005, for reasons of sustainability kanonmedia invited Volkshilfe Österreich, one of the leading Austrian organisations in the tradition of the workers welfare movements providing a broad range of social services, to enter the partnership. In the course of developments, kanonmedia transferred all project management activities to Volkshilfe Österreich, in 2006 the management of all training modules including the media lab to Polycollege, active in the field of classical training and education.

For THARA, kanonmedia was nominated second in the context of the competition for the awarding of Innovationspreis der freien Kulturszene Wiens [Innovation Prize Of The Free Cultural Scene in Vienna] by IG Kultur Wien in 2006, thus counting as one of the award winners.

THARA still exists. The advisory information center for Roma and Sinti in Vienna run by Volkshilfe Österreich engages itself in the support of questions related to integration in a labour market.

THARA listed in | featured by

— medienwerkstatt wien | video edition austria release 02. 4. sonic patterns. catalogue / vie / a / 09
— tep / vie / a / 07
— best of the web directory / int / 07
— reed exhibitions messe wien / vie / a / 07
— toolia / d / 07
— vie / a / 07
— european social fund / vie / a / 07
— apa / vie / a / 07
— emn / vie / a / 07
— die standard / vie / a / 06
— lycos search engine / volksgruppen hits page / int / 06
— webservice der stadt wien / vie / a / 06
— webservice der bezirksvorstehung margareten / vie / a / 06
— mund / vie / a / 06
— waff / vie / a / 06
— / vie / a / 06
— radio kaktus / vie / a / 06
— wiener integrationskonferenz / vie / a / 06
— puls tv / vie / a / 06
— / vie / a / 06
— ikap / vie / a / 06
— backbone / vie / a / 06
— der standard / vie / a / 06
— / vie / a / 06
— mahalla / i / 06
— dRoma / graz / a / 06
— edition lex liszt 12 / vie / a / 06
— equal common database / brussels / bel / 05
— zara / vie / a / 05
— comm-u-lab 2.0. final project report / vie / a / 05