Czech NGO ROMEA launches I HAVE A DREAM! campaign to support Romani students
The ROMEA organization, in collaboration with Bader Philanthropies, has launched another campaign to support students as part of their Scholarship Program for Romani students of colleges, high schools and technical schools. The campaign is entitled I HAVE DREAM! and clearly references the strong message of human rights fighter Dr Martin Luther King, Jr., who was a central representatives of the movement for the equality of African-Americans in the USA.
"Each of us has a dream. We want to support students with their academic and professional dreams, and for that reason we have accepted what is actually a big challenge from Bader Philanthropies. We will guarantee scholarship support for next school year and aid at least 60 Romani students with making their dreams come true. I want to call upon everybody who sees education as a value to support this challenge by donating. You can do this through a bigger, one-time amount or set up a continuous donation for regular, smaller amounts. We must raise CZK 300 000 [EUR 12 000] and that amount will be doubled by the foundation. I have a dream that together with you all we can do this!" says Monika Mihaličková, the author of the campaign and fundraiser for ROMEA's Romani Scholarship Program.
If ROMEA manages to raise CZK 300 000 [EUR 12 000] from donors by 15 June, Bader Philanthropies will match that amount. A special website has been created for the campaign through which people can contribute to the program.
Donations can be made on either a monthly or a one-time basis. The scholarship program aids Romani students with pursuing their academic dreams and their dreams of a future profession.
Each of us had a dream when we were going to school. Many Romani students have had to fight to overcome barriers that are the consequence of the long-term exclusion of Romani people by Czech society and the institutional discrimination that is demonstrated, for example, exactly by the inequality of Romani children's access to education, or of Romani adults' access to the labor market.
The legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr in the fight for the equality and human rights of minorities is deeply alive and inspiring to this day for many people in the human rights movement. His legendary speech on 28 August 1963, which came to be known as "I Have A Dream", was given during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, which became a milestone in the American civil rights movement.
During his historic speech, Dr King said: "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today!"
Jitka Votavová, project manager of the Romani Scholarship Program, has this to say about its vision: "The ROMEA organization is endeavoring, through this scholarship program, to support Romani students on their journey toward an education. In the long run, this will lead to increasing Romani people economic, political and social strength, not just as individuals, but also as representatives of Romani communities. Thanks to this they will be able to more effectively involve themselves in decision-making processes in society, through which it will be possible for them to achieve changes to the inequalities that exist here both socially and structurally."
The program was first launched by ROMEA in 2016. Ever since then it has gained the support of many foundations, including its biggest supporter, the Danish VELUX foundation, as well as Albatros, Bader Philanthropies, and many individual donors.
On the basis of a selection procedure, 60 Romani students of high schools and higher technical schools won scholarships during the first year of the project. In the current school year 81 students are being supported.
Each high school student receives a CZK 14 000 [EUR 550] scholarship for the academic year, while students of higher technical schools receive CZK 21 000 [EUR 825]. Secondary students who are not scholarship recipients are also able to apply to the project for financial aid to attend extracurricular education or receive tutoring, with roughly 200 students total accessing those opportunities since 2016.
Together with Romani university students, the secondary students who are scholarship recipients are also able to experience meetings of several days' duration called "BARUVAS - We Are Growing". The concept of these regular meetings is to support selected participants with their education, their self-development, and with intensifying the contacts, experiences and knowledge that they will then be able to use in their personal and professional lives.
Scholarship recipients also perform internships or volunteer services in various organizations, e.g., in drop-in centers for children and youth. More information about the Romani Scholarship Program is available (in Czech only) at www.romskastipendia.cz.
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