Roma children in Eastern Slovakia

Jarovnice, a town in Eastern Slovakia, is the home to a Roma community, that is still confronted with exclusion, relocation, persecution and disrepect.

There are about 300 slums in Slovakia. The largest slum in Central Europe is that of Jarovnice that is inhabited by 5.570 people of which 4.500 are members of the Roma minority. The majority of the Roma face poverty and unemployment and have to live without electricity, sanitary facilities or a functioning canalizsation system.   

The relationship between the Roma people and the other citizens of Jarovnice is characterized by mistrust and intolerance. The vicious cycle of poverty, unemployment and discrimination is aggravated by an alarming rate of criminality, alcohol and drug abuse. The level of education among the Roma minority in Jarovnice is extremely low, because children – often stemming from illiterate families - face difficulties in following regular education and drop out of the school system after the 4th class. There are schools for children with special needs that are visited exclusively by Roma children. However, these schools do not offer the children any prospects and contribute to a system of exclusion. This leads to a certain resignation both among parents and children of the Roma community. 


The overall objective of the project is to encourage the inclusion of children, youth and young adults within the framework of the national strategy for the Integration of Roma communities.    

The target groups of this project are children at pre-school age, young people and young adults as well as volunteers that want to support the numerous activities of the project.

The special objective of the project is to offer school preparation for children at pre-school age and to support the personal development and the talents of young people by offering workshops and leisure activities. Furthermore, the project aims at the prevention of alcohol and drug abuse, as well as of criminality or human trafficking. It includes activities for health and sex education, as well as support of the young people and young adults that volunteer in the Roma community.  

Since April 2014, when the project started, a great number of activities have been implemented. There are a number of groups offering leisure activities e.g. dance groups, theatre groups, guitar courses, painting classes, English classes and children and youth choires, handicraft work courses for girls as well as computer classes. Every now and then, performances of the dance groups, theatre groups or choires, with programmes elaborated by the children and young people together with the volunteers, take place in the culture centre in Jarovnice. In addition, a couple of excursions for young people have been organised.

Over the next months, the various courses will be continued and participation of the Roma youth will be further encouraged. Furthermore, there will be more excurses and additional lectures on topics such as sex education or human trafficking.