EU PRO Programme funded by the European Union and the Republic of Serbia
  • Republic of Serbia

Vladičin Han, 16 December 2020

Support to Roma community in Creating a Better Future

The position of Roma men and women and their social inclusion remains a major issue for both the Roma community, and the society as a whole. Issues of employment, housing, education and health care are still not sufficiently represented in the general public. Active support to improve the quality of life of Roma men and women living in smaller communities contributes to their greater inclusion in daily activities in various spheres of life.

Nebojša Šainović from Vladičin Han, a father of four children, works as a musician. Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, Nebojša has lost most of his job opportunities as almost all celebrations were canceled. Early in summer his wife and he applied for a greenhouse within the project "Roma Information and Support Centre" implemented by the Association of Roma Intellectuals with the support of the European Union (EU) through the EU PRO programme. Nebojša is one of the ten beneficiaries of the project who received a greenhouse for their own agricultural production of early vegetables.

"We have got the greenhouse that I plan to set up at the beginning of March and plant peppers, tomatoes and other vegetables there. My wife and I are raising four children, and this help means a lot to us as now we can provide for our family by selling vegetables at the market in the spring, ”says Nebojša.

The Šainovićs family was also included in preventive health care workshops, while when the coronavirus pandemic began, they received necessary advice on adequate preventive measures. In addition, the Association of Roma Intellectuals project team organised home visits to women with small children in order to educate mothers about the importance of maintaining hygiene and how they can preserve their health.

"During home visits, we received all the information on how important it is for children to wash their hands before every meal, to brush their teeth regularly, as well as advice on maintaining personal hygiene in summer and winter. And when the pandemic started, we received masks as well as instructions on how to best protect ourselves - from disinfection to keeping a distance, "added Irena Šainović, Nebojša's wife.

The project "Roma Information and Support Centre" started in August 2019 and so far a number of activities aimed at providing relevant information, assistance and support to the beneficiaries, namely the Roma community in Vladičin Han have been realised in order to implement active measures for social inclusion.

Within the project the Centre for providing information for Roma people was established and as a result more than 133 beneficiaries received support in areas related to legalization of facilities, social protection, education and scholarships, employment and health care. The center has also provided support and information on various issues related to exercising the right to child allowance, the procedure of legalization of buildings, enrollment of children in preschool, availability of measures for economic empowerment and employment, as well as exercising the right to health and social protection.

"We are proud of the number of people who have used the services of the Centre, and the results achieved to date confirm that we are solving some of the main issues concerning the Roma population in our town. Positive reactions to the activities we carry out are a great motivation for us; when you see people who are happy because they have realised their legal right, which would not be possible without our support, you know you are doing the right thing, "said Januš Kurtić, president of the Association of Roma Intellectuals.

In addition to this project aimed at the support to the Roma community in Vladičin Han, the European Union, in cooperation with the Ministry of European Integration within the Sector for Social Inclusion and Cohesion of the EU PRO development programme, supported 21 relevant projects in 17 municipalities in southern, southwestern and eastern Serbia. One of these projects "Equality, diversity and dialogue in the local community", implemented by the Sandžak Committee for the Protection of Human Rights and Freedom from Novi Pazar, also addresses the rights of national minorities. It has been in particular focused on improving the position of national minorities, exercising their rights and acting effectively in local communities in addressing key issues for improving the quality of life and human rights of national minorities.