Training of Roma Children

As is common in all areas with a large Roma population, in Serbia and Kosovo there is a glaring lack of training amongst Roma children in basic courtesy, manners, and what could be summarized as “character”. Poor or no school attendance has long been recognized as a huge problem amongst Roma children, but what about “character-building”. Such training is seldom if ever done in elementary schools, and is never seen in kindergartens. So if Roma parents are not teaching or training their children in these important areas, then how can we expect them to manifest these positive qualities and character traits as they grow into adolescents and then adulthood?

With this in mind we joined together with a local NGO that had erected a kindergarten exclusively for Roma children. Built out of 16 stacked shipping containers, this kindergarten was the perfect spot to implement our “Bonton za Decu” (Character-Building for Children) training curriculum project. Thanks to the excellent teaching ability and dedication of the kindergarten staff , the children are not only learning to brush their teeth and wash their hands before eating, but are learning to be respectful, to prefer others, obey commands, be kind, share, etc.

The kindergarten is located in one of the neediest “ghetto” areas of our city, and we are volunteering regularly, providing breakfast for the children, training for the teachers, inspiration in the form of music/dance, and basic English language. Humanitarian aid has been distributed to the children (shoes, clothing, watches, and other items) not only in this particular kindergarten, but also in other educational facilities that help with Roma children in a nearby area.

60 km to the north we have an outreach working together with a Roma pastor who is committed to helping the children in his area. When he heard about our work with Roma children, he invited us to come and oversee activities with the children in his care. Since music, dance, games, and animation have always been one of our specialties when working with children-at-risk, we were happy to help in whatever way we could. Roma children are always very happy and energetic, and we found them to be a very enthusiastic crowd, ready to participate whole-heartedly in whatever activity we proposed. Our goal with the children is always to feed them with good, positive input, whether it be in song, theatre, or game.

To view the following photos on Healing Hearts Balkans Facebook page here.

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