Erasmus+ – Gateway – 2nd International Project Meeting (Romania, Targu Mures) – 27-30.06.2023

2nd International Project Meeting (Romania, Targu Mures) – 27-30.06.2023

The 2nd International Meeting of the GATEWAY project took place in Romania, hosted by the Bonus Pastor Foundation. The meeting took place according to the attached

The organisation of the meeting, besides the operational tasks, was very demanding for the professionals, as there were also professional presentations, but at the same time the addicts themselves – the direct target group – participated in it.This way the break from the daily routine was both stressful and positive, as it was important for everyone to have a change and to do “non-ordinary” tasks (holidays, etc.). All this mobilised and developed a wide range of new competences for all participants and target groups (direct and indirect), and on the whole it had a positive mental/mental health impact for all.

The main topics of the meeting were the introduction of the Bonus Pastor partner organisation, description of its locations and programmes, participation in the programmes,
visit to the rehabilitation institute in Magyarozd, and visit to the Caritas sister organisation in Gyulafehérvár – i.e. gaining experience with their own experiences in the places of operation.

Its main aim is to enable professionals to get to know each other on a personal level, to get to know the activities of the partner organisations on the ground, to understand their methods, to develop cooperation between organisations, to gain non-formal learning, experience, professional and competence development, exchange of good practices and knowledge, which the partner organisations can incorporate into their own professional practice.

The most prominent activity of the Bonus Pastor Foundation, an NGO that has been operating for 30 years, is the long-term therapy programme at the Magyarózd Drug Treatment Home, which takes place over 6-9 months and is attended by addicted men aged 18-55 with various addictions. The rehabilitation centre was built in 2005 in Magyarozd, 70 km from the Foundation’s headquarters in Târgu Mures, a village of almost 270 inhabitants, located on the grounds of the Radák-Pekri manor house, built in the 17th century and owned by the Foundation.

The presence of international professionals encouraged the Magyarózd Drug Treatment Home (operated by Bonus Pastor Foundation) addicts to actively participate. They could use therapeutic tools and methods such as sharing, burden sharing, individual care sheets and their evaluations at the thematic breakfast meeting – these contribute to strengthening their self-esteem and self-confidence, but also improve their communication skills. These competences are essential for the reintegration of addicts into the labour market and society.

Both the openness towards each other and the local, mutual acceptance have led to a “crossover” (both physical and professional) between the professionals and the addicts in rehabilitation, who have been an “open book” (Living Library method) for the professionals and have willingly and enthusiastically participated in trying a new method (story therapy), implemented by the representative of the Antropos Mental Health Association, Tünde Ricz Dencs, a representative of the Antropos Mental Health Association. Storytelling therapy is a novel approach to competence development for the target group and provides an opportunity to develop new skills or to practice and deepen old ones. At the Foundation’s headquarters in Târgu Mures, the experts from the partner organisations were able to learn about the prevention work and experience of the organisation.

The participant observation method gave the professionals from the partner organisations the opportunity to gain first-hand experience, for example through participation in the support group. Here again, inclusiveness, sincere interest and openness – on both sides – dissolved any inhibitions so honest and courageous self-reflections were able to be expressed.

During the meeting, the professionals from the partner organisations left with a rich experience. They could experience the practical application of the Portage method learned during the training within the partnership, participating in the Home’s daily activities such as morning gymnastics, prayers, end-of-day feeling circle, talking to and asking questions to the residents and learning about the Foundation’s wide range of activities in the fields of prevention, aftercare and adult education.They also participated in support group sessions, visited the Caritas organisation in Gyulafehervár, learned about the methods of another type of support group, all of which contributed to the enrichment and development of their knowledge and gave them the opportunity to use, incorporate and develop certain elements in their own work in their own organisations. Nevertheless, the sharing of experiences also worked towards the Bonus Pastor: the experimentation of story therapy with the joint participation of helpers and addicts also paved the way towards further possibilities in rehabilitation work.

The international meeting also intensively focused on dissemination since with a radio launch event (post attached) also took place.

Meeting in person, getting to know each other and formal and informal professional discussions were all a professional and spiritual recharge, which created and strengthened the possibility and functioning of long-term partnership as well and personal and professional contacts.