Great Leaders are Made, Not Born

Roma camp Mukachevo

It is known that the Roma camp in Mukachevo is extremely large. It has more than 10 000 inhabitants. Even after working for 4 years in the camp, our Charitable fund “Progress” only now founds the young Romani activists who organized the establishment of alternative education for Roma. Probably, it’s because the good deeds are done in silence.

It’s a couple of friends who began to make the good things in the Roma camp. Over time, their small team has grown significantly. A resident of the Roma camp Karl Horvat, who is the coordinator of the project with the support of the mission “Emmanuel” and pastor of the Church of the Living God and his best friend and colleague, the deacon of the Church – Ruslan Yankovsky started this deal together, and with joy in their voices say that under their strict guidance, more than 400 Roma children and youths have been educated. But, let’s start from the beginning.

In the heart of Roma camp in Mukachevo there is not a remarkable building. Daily, renovation works occurring near this building. As Ruslan Yankovsky said: “We need to expand facilities, because the number of Roma children, who are willing to study, is growing daily”.

Walking up the stairs, the employees of the Charitable fund “Progress” were pleasantly surprised by what is in this building.

Roma camp Mukachevo

In one class the Roma children are reading. In another, they learn new information about the sports sphere. In the third they learn how to write. The atmosphere is friendly, children are smiling, and teachers are encouraged to conduct lessons.

This institution can be called an extracurricular education center. The program is made by the management of centers, and it is usually directed to the creative potential of Roma children and young people. Karl Horvat believes that the work of the center is optimal, and even unique, for the Roma community: “We work from Monday to Friday during the day. Most of the children who visit Roma secondary school №14 in the morning, and they are almost 80, come to us after dinner. And vice versa. Generally, in the morning kids from very poor families come to us, because we offer not only food for the brain”

Roma camp Mukachevo
Timetable in the center

Roma camp Mukachevo

However, according to Karl, children coming from the morning are full of energy for learning. The teachers help them with this. In general, it is the Roma youth, young future leaders. Nearly 24 people included in the pedagogical and tutorial center’s staff work on a voluntary basis. However, they not only teach, but also learn. Karl Horvat holds regular training sessions and seminars about the leadership and motivation. The trainers also come from other cities in Ukraine and from abroad. Now, the Roma leadership lessons are held for of all ages: from 15 to 40. “For the leadership there is no time frame,” – Karl says.

For small children, the teachers came up with a different incentive scheme. The center has modern equipment and a computer class. Twice a week, lessons on the basics of using computers are in each group. And every Saturday, the most active child has the right for an hour to “surfing” on the Internet at will. “Almost every week, me together with the children, are choosing the best student and handing a small gift. I am sure that a child should be encouraged to work on themselves, and after that everything goes by inertia”, – said Ruslan Yankovsky.

Roma camp Mukachevo

For young Roma talents, the music room is equipped, in which there are a lot of tools. There, children can learn how to play the piano, violin, guitar, accordion, drums. Teacher is a Roma musician Tiberius Kotlari, who educates the 32 talented individuals. Two ensembles have already formed of them, which, so far, perform only in the Roma school and on holidays, organized by the center. Head of music class pointed out that in the future the dance class can be created. They are confident that there will be many children, who wish to visit it!

The center management pays great attention to sanitary conditions and hygiene culture. The center has a sauna, where the pupils of center, and other interested persons, who are not able to do it at home can enjoy it. On the basis of the center there is a room equipped as a medical office. But there is no doctor. “This is a big problem for us. We can “grow” or hire teachers, but the situation with doctors is radically different. We do not need a person who will be here twice a month, and only because they work for a salary. We need an honest person, who really wants to help. You know, the children are friendly, and quickly get attached to other people. Sometimes, it is important to just hug them”, – said Ruslan Yankovsky.

Roma children spend their leisure time in sports. Center Management initiated the creation of a sports institution “Rom sport” where Roma youth is involved in table tennis, football and boxing.

However, the most interesting form of recreation is summer camps. Every summer, a grand Christian Roma camp is organized, where Roma children and young people live during five days. There they not only study, communicate, and play active games, but also sing, dance, compete and attend chapels in the evening. During the summer season, two summer camps for different age categories take place. Two children’s camp raised nearly 360, and more than 300 youth and Roma.

Roma camp Mukachevo

Despite all the achievements, leadership of the center shared with us a number of problems which, in collaboration with fund “Progress” are quite possible to solve. The following issues were discussed at a meeting:

– Problems of segregated schools lead to “rubber-stamping” certificates. Children do not receive a quality education, for lack of motivation on the part of teachers, and of the Roma children and parents. To this it was proposed: to extend the subject of the so-called non-formal education center, located in the camp, involving also employees and workers of the fund “Progress” and others public organizations, that wish to help.

– To change the worldview, the work must be carried out by triangular cooperation: children, parents and community organizations. Joint lessons, excursions, workshops and seminars for representatives of the three niches will help to establish a communication link between them.

– To emphasize the development of leadership potential in the Roma youth, for example, personal growth, which will serve as the best motivator for other Roma.

At the meeting, it was decided that all the problems can be solved in cooperation.

Керівництво центру з представницями Правозахисного фонду Розвиток
Center Management with representatives of the Charitable fund “Progress”

Iryna Myroniuk,
The Charitable fund “Progress”

PS: The centers of legal information and advice that provide free legal aid to Roma people working with the support of the “Roma of Ukraine“, International “Renaissance” Foundation. To learn more about the activities of a network of centers, foundations and principles of work visit the website under “Legal Empowerment of Roma communities.” The views in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the International “Renaissance” Foundation and other civil, religious and political organizations and individuals.