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March 21, 2018
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Czech Republic: Romani broadcaster and educator Hilda Pášová has passed away

11.3.2018 7:01
Hilda Pášová (PHOTO: Rena Horvátová, archive of Romano voďi)
Hilda Pášová (PHOTO: Rena Horvátová, archive of Romano voďi)

On Monday 5 March the Romani broadcaster, educator, politician and author Hilda Pášová passed away after a long illness at the age of 76. Funeral services will be held for her tomorrow, Monday, 12 March, at 11 AM in the Chapel of St. Wenceslaus (sv. Václava) at the cemetery in the Prague quarter of Vinohrady.

Ms Pášová was born in 1941 in Vlčany (Šaľa district) in southern Slovakia, and after the Second World War her family moved to the Prague quarter of Letňany to work. She always had loving memories of her childhood even though she did not have an easy time of it, precisely because of that move.

During her entry into first grade she spoke almost no Czech and had to repeat the year. However, drawing on her own energy, she managed to master the Czech language and after graduating from primary school she matriculated to a college preparatory school and began to study at the Faculty of Education.

Her father passing away interrupted her university studies, which she never completed, but despite that she helped to build up the department and to teach for many years at the Romani High School in Kolín and later at the Social High School in Prague 3, where she taught Czech language - and all of this at a time when she had long been eligible to do nothing but relax in her retirement. She also became generally famous as the moderator of a program about Romani culture for public broadcaster Czech Television called "Točkolotoč".

Ms Pášová filmed many reports for Czech Television aboute the lives of Romani people. After the Velvet Revolution in 1989 she began to work as an assistant to the Deputy Minister for Science, Technology and Investment Development and was active in the newly-established Romani political party ROI (Roma Civic Initiative).

She was also employed for nine years as a social worker at the local authority in Prague 2 and at the Municipal Center for Social Services and Prevention. At that time she began to visit high schools, college preparatory schools and other training institutions to lecture on Romani culture, history and literature.

At the invitation of Milena Hübschmannová, the founder of Romani Studies in the Czech Republic, she also lectured in that field at the Faculty of Arts at Charles University, telling students not just about her own family's history and traditions, but also about the dialect of Romanes that she spoke, which she herself called "ungriki romaňi čhib" or Hungarian Romanes. "It is only now that I am older that I am aware of what a pity it would have been if my mother tongue had slowly disappeared and gone extinct," she wrote for the Romano džaniben journal in 1995.

Inspired by Hübschmannová and also by a cousin, the author Tera Fabiánová, Ms Pášová wrote a short story capturing the events of the Second World War in her native Vlčany called "Te dživen musaj" (Life Goes On). In 1999 that story won second place in a literary competition in Lanciano, Italy and one year later was published in Romano džaniben 4/2000.

Our sincere condolences go to her surviving family members and loved ones.

Eva Zdařilová, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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