We Are Here Together - European Support to Roma Inclusion
Legally invisible persons do not have citizenship, social and health protection, education or jobs. “It’s as if we don’t exist in this world,” says Rahman Rahmani a beneficiary of the “European Support to Roma Inclusion” project. Improving access to basic rights is among six areas in which the project provides support to the Roma community in Serbia. In two years, mobile legal teams identified 1,100 legally invisible persons in 97 municipalities and initiated 969 legal cases for Roma before courts. As a result of the free legal aid provided to the beneficiaries, they now have more opportunities in the field of education, health protection and employment.
After six years of efforts, Valjbona Saciri, one of the beneficiaries, who for the first time obtained personal documents thanks to the project, said: “This means the world to me - as if I was born again.” Support provided to members of Roma community through free legal aid is illustrated in the following video (Serbian-language only):
Another important area of the project’s activities is support for employment. The results of a mapping process, which identified best practices in Roma employment, showed that there are many successful Roma entrepreneurs, as well as companies employing Roma, contrary to a common belief.
“I have received strong support – not only material, but human, too. Someone has actually thought of us, Roma,” says Milos Simic, the owner of a photo store, who received equipment to improve his work through the project. In order to create new employment opportunities for Roma, 18 selected companies that have the potential for employing Roma were granted support with equipment, as well as through mentoring and training.
Pava Cabrilovski, who employed six Roma women in her company, emphasises how important it is for women to achieve economic independence and to find their place in society. Melita Ibinci was unemployed for four years, and now is one of 62 Roma who were provided jobs through the project.
“I hope that these 18 companies will represent a beacon showing that integration is possible,” said Marta Garcia Fidalgo, European Commission Coordinator for Roma Policy. To learn about the impressions of the employed Roma, as well as supported entrepreneurs of the Program of Support for Roma Employment check out the video that follows:
Education represents a priority for the Roma community, as it is considered a prerequisite for prosperity. Within the dropout prevention programme, 1,000 scholarships were granted to Roma secondary school students. In addition to this, the students are assisted and motivated by 208 mentors trained within the project, and supported by their peers. Nenad Ismailovic says that the scholarship means a lot to him, as he can buy a transport pass, books and clothes. Teaching assistants, as part of the mobile teams for Roma inclusion established with the help of the project, provide support to primary school pupils to complete their education. They also assist teachers in improving their work with children. The training and certification of 191 teaching assistants whose job also includes working with Roma and non-Roma children and performing field visits, was organised through the project.
“Scholarships are only an incentive for further education. We need to try and make it, although we are Roma and there is plenty of prejudice,” says former scholarship recipient Djordjina Halilkovic, now a freshman at the Faculty of Sciences and Mathematics in Nis. Why is education important to the Roma community? What is the effect of scholarships and how are the pedagogical assistants and mentors supporting students? See in the next video.
The 4.8 million EUR project “We Are Here Together - European Support to Roma Inclusion” is financed by the European Union and implemented by the OSCE Mission to Serbia.