The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee advances human rights through grassroots collaborations.
Eyes on Eastern Europe: Foundation Towards Dialogue
By on June 2, 2023
Since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, more than 62,000 people have died, nearly 60,000 have been injured, and roughly 14 million have been displaced. UUSC immediately mobilized its resources in support of those who were impacted by the invasion, culminating in 10 partnerships with organizations in Eastern Europe. All of these organizations are committed to helping communities facing compounding forms of oppression during this conflict—meaning we focus our resources on communities who are already facing severe oppression even before the invasion (people of color, people with disabilities, members of the LGBTQ+ community, etc.). This series will highlight those partners and the work they do.
One of the biggest issues in the world today is the way differences are handled. While we are all human, we each inhabit a vast multitude of bodies, cultures, locations, and identities. Though there have been many who have embraced human differences as good and urged others to do the same, there have been many who have viewed differences as an attack. From there, dehumanizing others becomes commonplace. Instead of the beauty of diversity, difference is seen as the harbinger of danger, which causes much strife in our world.
To improve our world, we have to begin building a bridge across differences in order to embrace our shared humanity. This is why the Foundation Towards Dialogue was created in 2012. The founders bring over 20 years of experience working with Romani communities in academia and the third sector. Since its founding 10 years ago, the organization has developed a strong reputation based on advocacy, professionalism, and expertise.
Foundation Towards Dialogue operates with the understanding that differences are not a threat. Rather, they enrich the experiences of all involved in every sector. The organization has adopted three aims:
- To influence positive change in education and society;
- Provide reliable, accessible expertise on Romani communities and other at-risk groups; and
- Create educational opportunities for others to learn about other communities.
Currently, the organization’s main focus is providing immediate and long-term support for Romani refugees from Ukraine. To meet the need, Foundation Towards Dialogue created a network of volunteers, social assistants, and cultural mediators who speak the refugees’ languages. They also started the Roma-Poland-Ukraine Day Centre to provide psychological support, legal guidance, and education.
Foundation Towards Dialogue has experienced significant growth. This expansion is the result of shifting from immediate response aid to offering longer-term support for refugees. The organization is using UUSC funding to enhance its infrastructure to meet the growing need. Expanding their organizational capacity and investing in ongoing training is vital to offering top-notch support.
Interested in supporting the work of Foundation Towards Dialogue and organizations like it? Donate to our Emergency Response Fund!
Image Credit: Foundation Towards Diologue