Norwegian, UK, US ambassadors to Czech Republic praise nonprofit and school for Romani inclusion in Trmice
The Norwegian Ambassador to the Czech Republic, Siri Ellen Sletner, UK Ambassador to the Czech Republic Jan Thompson, and US Ambassador to the Czech Republic Andrew Shapiro have praised a nonprofit organization and a primary school in the town of Trmice as a good example of how social inclusion should work. Trmice is considered a socially excluded locality; more than one-third of the children attending the local school are Romani.
Marie Gottfriedová, director of the school, told the Czech News Agency after the diplomats' visit that she believes they will all collaborate further. The school has already been cooperating for several years with an educational institution in Great Britain.
Ambassadors: We are interested in the problems of inclusion in practice
"We are interested in the problems of inclusion and how it works in practice. We consider this a very imporant matter, not just social inclusion per se, but the inclusion of the Romani community specifically. We have seen unbelievable cooperation between pupils and teachers here and enthusiasm coming from both sides," Ambassador Thompson told the press.
Gottfriedová said her school is interested in collaborating with the embassies. "I believe that the time we spent together today will result, for example, in cooperation with the Norwegian and US embassies. We talked in general terms about how to take advantage of the Norwegian investment funds. There are rather a lot of options," she told the Czech News Agency.
Romani pupils comprise more than one-third of the student body at the school, and the director says there are practically no incidents of prejudice or racism among the pupils. "These children do not harbor prejudices - if they don't get them from the world of adults, then they won't have them. They draw no distinctions among themselves. They are capable of cooperating, getting along, and helping each other without prejudice," she said.
Romano Jasnica - an organization that deserves appreciation
The ambassadors also expressed appreciation for the work done by a local nonprofit organization, Romano Jasnica, which works with Romani children of all ages. "Most of the work is done by volunteers, who are enthusiastic and glad to do it. They have very limited funding, but they are enthusiastic," said Ambassador Sletner, adding that such local organizations also have the option of applying to the Norwegian funds for subsidies.
"One of the priorities [of the Norwegian funds] is support for social inclusion. Support is given to nonprofit organizations for organizing conferences, seminars or workshops. That is one of the options that can be taken advantage of," the ambassador said.
According to Ambassador Shapiro, organizations should also be able to apply for American support. "The US Embassy also has an instrument, a so-called small federal grant, through which, for example, small nonprofit organizations can apply for aid. If such an organization meets our requirements, we are happy to be able to help," he said.
Bajger describes people's ordinary problems
Martin Bajger, the vice-chair of Romano Jasnica who recently successfully ran in the elections to the Trmice town council, described the course of the recent elections and the problems connected with them to the ambassadors. "Members of the majority society were surprised that so many Romani voters turned out, and they immediately alleged that we were involved in vote-buying. This was not true. Romani voters here went to the polls on their own initiative, and they had to face questions from election commissioners about why they were coming to vote - they were even asked who they were coming to vote for," Bajger told the ambassadors.
"I spoke with the ambassadors about people's ordinary problems in our town. I described to them the need to change some people's economic thinking, to motivate them to further educate their children. Parents need to teach their children to go to work so they won't just be on welfare as adults," Bajger told news server Romea.cz.
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