In 1993, Dana Nicolescu realized that although foreigners provided a lot of aid to Romania, there was not enough done in the field of training. More important, the training that did exist was not the right training for Romanians because existing programs were not adjusted to Romanian needs and because the trainers were not familiar with Romanian culture and language. So Nicolescu founded Opportunity Associates-Romania (OAR), an organization that would deliver adapted and totally new trainings with native trainers Ñ a first in Romania and in the whole Central and Eastern European region.
The foundation of OAR was also meant as a step towards sustainability. Training of Trainers is one of the main programs of OAR, and Romania's stock of native trainers grows with every training delivered.
The official mission of Opportunity Associates is to "strengthen democracy by supporting the development and sustainability of the NGO sector and by promoting linkages with the government and for-profit sectors." OAR's goals are:
To fulfill these goals, OAR has established two training programs as a focus of their work: Training of Trainers and management training.
The management training program is a five-phase workshop program that covers the fundamentals of human resources. It is based upon a model that is on the forefront of adult education in the United States and unique in Romania. Topics include personal awareness and interpersonal communication, problem solving and conflict resolution, group development and learning, and design and delivery of experiential training events. The program supplies participants with basic skills that will help them manage their own organizations.
A fundamental component of each training is the completion of an action plan. Each participant puts together a detailed description of how he or she will apply the skills learned in the workshop once the participant returns to the NGO. The action plan could also describe how the participant would like to be involved in training and evaluations.
OAR has held 26 advanced Training of Trainers workshops for selected graduates. More than 450 people have attended the workshops, and more than 70 NGO leaders have served as trainers. Other workshops led by OAR focused on lobbying skills, evaluation skills training and counseling skills. The group also has provided more than 60 trainers to conduct or facilitate workshops for various national and international organizations.
In addition to training, OAR has provided more than 500 days of technical assistance to Romanian NGOs. Notably, OAR played a key role in the evaluation teams during the recent World Learning/Democracy Network Project needs assessment, which evaluated more than 500 Romanian NGOs.
In the future, OAR plans to open a National Training Resource Center, where trainers and the public would have access to the wide selection of training modules and materials compiled by OAR. The center would also have training rooms where trainings could be delivered daily. OAR also hopes to create a presence on the Internet for the Romanian NGO community after the center is established.
Name: Opportunity Associates-Romania: Training and Consulting for NGOs
Type of Organization: Nongovernmental, Nonprofit Organization
Director: Dana Nicolescu
Program Director: Marilena Iliescu
Board members: Mihai Rosca (president), Anca Dantes and Ciprian Taraca (vice presidents), Radu Buzgar, Dan Joldes, Anemona Munteanu
Staff: 5 full time trainers, 25 part time trainers, 20 volunteers
Address: P.O. Box 41-98, Bucharest 41, Romania
Tel/fax: (40-1) 223-0611
Pager: (40-1) 312-4010, ext. 12-292
Current Partners: Support Center of America (USA)
Former Partners: Nonprofit Enterprise Self Sustainable Team, World Learning, CENTRAS, UNICEF, Regional Environment Center
Training Programs: Training of Trainers: Efficient Meetings, Leadership Styles, Team Building, Group Dynamics, Personnel Management, Effective Communication, Time Management, Stress Management, Cultural Differences
Management Training: Project Planning, Project Management, Conflict Management, Volunteers Management, Evaluation, Proposal Writing, Fundraising, Board Development, Strategic Planning, Business for NGOs, Mass Media and Public Relations, NGO Marketing
Other Activities: Research, advocacy
Sectors of Work: Democracy building
Orientation of Training: local, regional, national and international