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September 24, 2017
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Police officer and Romani community member Petr Torák is now an "ambassador"

9.9.2017 14:13
Petr Torák lecturing to Romani students in the Czech Republic, 2017. (PHOTO: Petr Zewlakk Vrabec)
Petr Torák lecturing to Romani students in the Czech Republic, 2017. (PHOTO: Petr Zewlakk Vrabec)

British police officer Petr Torák has become an ambassador for the Roma Scholarship Program implemented by ROMEA, o.p.s. in the Czech Republic. Torák, about whom has reported HERE and HERE, is of Romani nationality.


Many years ago he emigrated from the Czech Republic to the United Kingdom, where he was recently made a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE). That high civilian honor was bestowed upon him by Queen Elizabeth II primarily for his community work in the town of Petersborough.

The officer currently works in the UK as a detective and recentlyaccepted an invitation to a meeting of Romani students in Pec pod Sněžkou, Czech Republic, where he spent the entire five days with them. "He is a great example for the students," co-organizer Jitka Votavová of the ROMEA organization said.

"Petr is a modest person full of humility and inspiration. At the meeting he also demonstrated that he is a good speaker and motivational teacher for youth," she said.

During the visit the students had the opportunity not just to experience morning exercises with Petr, but also to hear him lecture about how to present oneself through online social networks. The detective discussed both negative and positive examples of how people can easily lose a career or carefully-built reputation thanks to an inappropriate online post.

The students also learned about the principles of safety on the Internet. "The lecture was greatly appreciated by the students," said Votavová.

Under the influence of meeting with the students, Torák has now decided to contribute to fundraising for the scholarship project and to aid with promoting it to potential donors in Great Britain, as well as to represent the program as its ambassador. "Meeting the students was, for me, very beneficial and inspiring," he said.

"This was an amazing opportunity to meet and work with Romani youth who already now represent Romani people in a positive light," Torák said. This academic year more than 130 applicants sought scholarships from the program.

Thanks to a matching grant challenge from the US-based Bader Philanthropies foundation, it will be possible to support at least 10 more students this year than last year. The deadline for raising the funds, however, is the end of September, and for that reason Torák has decided to offer a helping hand.

"The Roma Scholarship Program is evidence of the fact that with a bit of aid, Romani people can achieve amazing things and can become full-fledged components of Czech society," he said. "For that reason I have decided to support this program by becoming its ambassador."

 "This is an investment (of money and time) that pays off. I have witnessed the success of this program and I am convinced that if we all support it, a couple of years from now we will not have to be answering the so-called 'Roma question'," the police officer said.


You can support Romani students now as well. If the organizers manage to raise CZK 125 000 [EUR 4 800] by the end of September, that equivalent amount will be donated by Bader Philanthropies.

Thanks to these funds it will be possible to support at least 10 more students in the program this year. Thanks to all who have donated for aiding Romani youth with their studies and supporting the long-term establishment of the Romani middle class in the Czech Republic, just as Petr Torák has decided to.


Monika Mihaličková, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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