Monika Mihaličková: Why it's important that we Roma support each other
We Roma have generosity in our blood. It is a component of our culture.
We know how to give, and we know how to receive. We frequently cry when we receive a gift from somebody.
"Rovav me, he paľis savore imar roven." Tears of joy are the most beautiful thing we can enjoy, they are something that heals all of our hearts.
Why are we now doing a campaign to support Romani students? Why do we want to challenge our fellow Roma to donate to this cause?
When I began collaborating with the Roma Scholarship Program I had not the slightest doubt that it is worthwhile. I know what it is that we Roma have to achieve.
Sixteen years ago, as a student myself, I organized similar events and meetings with my peers. Back then there were far fewer of us.
Today there are hundreds of Romani students. However, those few students who passed through such programs 16 years ago are successful people today who do their chosen work well.
Some of those people are working directly in the Romani community, others are working as part of a profession, and most of them are in leadership positions. We Roma are working as the directors of institutions, doctors, lawyers and managers.
Where are they all, you ask? They're busy at work, and they are role models not just for their own families, but also for the majority society.
That is what integration is. Many Romani people have been quietly contributing financially to support more Romani students in this scholarship program now.
There is strength in our community. The fundraising challenge we have just begun is not just about providing support to more Romani students, but also about activating the interest of the rest of us Roma to make sure that the next generation of our children will live better lives than those who came before.
As many of us Roma say: "Dživav perdal o čhave". Isn't that so?
Do you agree with me? There are many Romani families here for whom education is important.
It is not true what the media allege about Roma - namely, that we "don't want" an education. The growing number of Romani students in colleges and high schools is evidence of that.
We do not have to convince ourselves of the truth of this. For that reason, we can also aid our own community.
Many communities worldwide do exactly that. Their members assist each other.
Right now, if you contribute even just CZK 100 [EUR 4] to this fundraising effort, your donation will be automatically doubled. Bader Philanthropies, a US-based private foundation supporting social and workforce development worldwide, has primarily supported this campaign in order to to activate us Romani community members.
We Roma have a tendency to give big gifts. When we invite somebody to visit, we treat him like a king.
Whenever we are supposed to give a gift at a wedding, we always prepare for it. We would rather not attend at all than give a gift that is too small.
That's not what this challenge is about, though. Any donation, even CZK 100, is a big donation here!
Each and every donation is evidence that we Roma care about the education of our youth. What else can you buy with CZK 100 today?
A box of cigarettes, perhaps? Three beers?
Accepting this challenge is really very easy. When each of us contributes what we can, we demonstrate to the world that we are not just people who constantly complain and curse, but that we also know how to do something with our lives.
The challenge is that we need to reach our target amount (o love) by the end of September! Miri phuri daj phenelas: "Te deha, ta he tut avela, mri čhaj."
Calo dživipen kada kerav a tumen oda keren tiž. Romale, sikhaven la lumake, hoj džanen so hin lačes.
Note: I have intentionally not translated the Romanes part of this text into Czech (or English). This challenge is intended predominantly for my fellow Romani people, but if somebody from outside the Romani community joins us, we will be very glad. In fact, that is already happening, and we greatly appreciate everybody who is giving!!
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