Sunday, July 5, 2009

Slovakia, the Moldava Roma Community

These will not be lavish apartments...just the bare necessities. This one building is actually three apartments. But, it is more than most Roma have, and is partly funded by what little savings they can acquire. The amount they save is not as important as the act itself. For some, it is only a few hundred Euros. With some of their own funds involved, we hope they will feel a greater desire to take care of their home and surroundings.

EPT has asked that LDS Charities partner with them in a pilot program to try to help the Romany people learn more effectively how to help themselves. In partnership with Slovakia Habitat for Humanity and the government, EPT has designed a program they hope will help Roma afford small housing. The government, HFH , and EPT will match every Euro that a Roma can save towards building and improving their home. LDS Charities, through our office in Frankfurt, has agreed to provide toilets and basins for the 12 new apartments. These apartments will have the few working, indoor bathrooms in the village.

LDS Charities is partnering with ETP, hopefully to help change the lives of Roma people. Slavka (right) the ETP director, chose these young people from the Moldava community to help make a difference in their village. They are now trained Social Workers who will operate the new, small community center. They will counsel, tutor and work with the new generation of Moldava Roma. The goal is to help redirect the mindset of Roma, teaching them to think out of the box of poverty.

The trash and garbage thrown from this apartment building becomes a playground for Roma children.

90% of those living in poverty in Slovakia are Roma. And, 95% of those living in the Moldava community are without employment. Roma are often the first to lose their jobs in a struggling economy. They are often seen begging on the streets...washing car windows at a red light, playing an instrument for change, or holding a cup for donations. But, they are a happy people who love being around others...and love having their pictures taken.

On our first day together we drove to visit the Roma community in Moldava with Slavka, the director of EPT, an organization that helps Romany people. It was the Alexander’s first visit to a Roma community.

We visited Kosice, Slovakia in June to train the new humanitarian couple, Elder Archie & Sister Nadine Alexander. They are a fun couple --ready and eager to begin work.

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