The Board of Directors of the International Settlement Federation met in Oradea, Romania, from September 26-30. The meeting was organised by IFS member Women´s Organization of Bihor. The IFS Board members could not meet for three years due to the pandemic. Despite the undeniable importance of digital tools during the pandemic, meeting people and having long-focused conversations around the same table are invaluable.The IFS Board has 30 members from 16 countries, and its head office is in Helsinki, Finland.
Pentti Lemmetyinen, the IFS board’s chairperson, is also the president of the Settlement movement and the CEO of the Finnish Federation of Settlement Houses. The IFS Office Executive Director is Staffan Lindqvist, and Junias Kanyinda is responsible for the IFS communications.
“The time spent debating and trying to get a grasp on words
and meanings deepen the understanding of our work and what we want to deliver.”
English is the working language of the IFS Board. However, most of the Board members do not speak English as their first language. It is interesting to see the amount of time we spend making sure that everyone has the same understanding of the words used in our conversations. Nonetheless, the time spent debating and trying to understand better words is never a waste of time. It deepens our understanding of what we do and the message we want to deliver about what we do.
The week in Oradea consisted of a final IFS board meeting, a mini-conference with Oradea’s authorities and organizations, and several study visits. Working with the Roma minority seems interestingly challenging from the Settlement work view. Intergenerational inequality and marginalization are problematic issues. It is a significant challenge to break it and change society’s attitude because of the open discrimination towards Romas.
Another topic and significant operational challenge are helping the Ukrainian war refugees. There are currently more than 70 000 of them in the country. Romania is not a rich country, but it has done its best to help. It was interesting to hear how, within days of the outbreak of war in Ukraine, authorities, organizations, and citizens found the will and the way to work together.
The most memorable moment of the seminar was when we were video-linked with Ukrainian youth workers. They spoke about their situation and the conditions in which young people and children live. The weekly contact between IFS members and Ukrainians will be continued and developed.