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August 19, 2022



"Haters Will Not Stop Us!" ROMEA launches campaign to support Romani scholarship program

8.4.2021 15:12
Romani student recipients of the ROMEA organization's scholarships at a recent BARUVAS meeting in the Czech Republic. (PHOTO:   Petr Zewlakk Vrabec)
Romani student recipients of the ROMEA organization's scholarships at a recent BARUVAS meeting in the Czech Republic. (PHOTO: Petr Zewlakk Vrabec)

On the occasion of World Roma Day, the ROMEA organization has launched a new fundraising campaign to support its Romani scholarship program called "Haters Will Not Stop Us!" The campaign uses humor to respond to the hateful commentaries about Romani students that appear on social media in the Czech Republic.

The fundraising campaign will last from 8 April until 31 August 2021. "We have done our best, in a joking form, to respond to the hateful commentaries that are frequently posted to social media about us. We want to show people that Romani youth are studying and want to get an education. Even though this hate speech is often an unpleasant part of the daily life of these youth, they are not losing their energy or their motivation to achieve something," says Veronika Hlaváčová, the coordinator of the ROMEA organization's Romani scholarship program.

Since 2016, ROMEA has distributed more than 450 scholarships through its program worth CZK 6.5 million [EUR 251 350]. Hundreds of students have also taken advantage of the opporutnity to have the program pay for tutoring, language courses, or study aids.

The ROMEA scholarship program also offers other forms of support besides the scholarship itself. This mainly has to do with mentoring and with the regular student meetings called BARUVAS (in Romanes, WE ARE GROWING).

Most of the new students in the program receive mentors who are also university students with experience in the program that they can transfer to the younger students. "Each year the number of students applying to the ROMEA scholarship program grows. At the beginning of the project, in the 2016/2017 school year, 90 Romani students of secondary schools and higher technical schools applied. Last year it was 210 students of secondary schools, higher technical schools and colleges/universities. For us it is very important to support as many Romani students as possible, and that is exactly why we need support from private donors and firms. One-time and regularly recurring private gifts comprise approximately 30 % of the finances needed for the scholarship program to function," says Štefan Balog, manager of the program.


"It's clear to us that we can't support all Romani students. However, we are doing our best to expand the Romani scholarship program in the future," explains Hlaváčová.

"Your aid is more important than you might believe. You are the ones who, together with us, can change somebody's life," she says.

"During the 2020/2021 school year, ROMEA was able, thanks to donations from the public, to support Romani college and university students for the first time. The 62 secondary and higher technical students were joined by 32 college students receiving the scholarship," notes program manager Balog.

"We are quite glad that this year we were also able to support Roma in higher education. The broad range of fields in which they are studying demonstrates to us that the allegation that Romani people just study 'social work' has not applied for some time now," Balog notes.

"Among the college students receiving the ROMEA scholarship we have future lawyers, teachers, chemists, economists or designers, for example. I'm very glad that thanks to support from the broader public, we are able to aid these Romani talents and youth with making their dreams come true," Balog says.

You, too, can support Romani students and join us in showing the haters how wrong they are! Speaking of hate speech, instructions on how to respond to it in both the offline and online environments can be found on the website of ROMEA's campaign called "You can help!" ("Můžeš pomoc!"), which lets the public in general know that groundless attacks, whether physical or verbal, should never happen without a response from those who witness them; specific options for situations in which one witnesses such an attack, e.g., on public transport or social media, are demonstrated in the campaign by the actor Hynek Čermák.

ROMEA, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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