International Romani charity says helping others is a joy
A Czech Romani man and a Slovak Romani man have established a small charity organization abroad and begun aiding impoverished Romani children. They have delivered a first installment of aid to Romani settlements in Slovakia and are planning to deliver more in future.
The charity organization of Marian Demeter and Stanislav Pavlov, called "United Help in Christ", was created last September. Today it has several branches in Belgium and Great Britain collecting used clothing and delivering it to selected places where the situation of Romani people is most critical.
We set an example for our children
"Our vision is to aid helpless, impoverished Romani children all over Europe," Demeter told news server Romea.cz. "We are Roma who have managed to integrate into society, we go to work and our children go to school. It occurred to us to set an example for our children and to start supporting our Romani brothers however we can."
Demeter lives with his family in Belgium and is a Belgian citizen. He got together with Pavlov, who lives in London.
The men first shared their idea with acquaintances and then, with their aid, began to disseminate calls and pleas for donations of used clothing. They began collecting donated bags of things and keeping them in their garages in Belgium and England.
The clothing drive was very successful and people also began sending money to a collection for a van the men could use to deliver the aid to the places intended. Donors from as far away as Australia, New Zealand and the United States helped out.
Aid to the settlements
"God has given us hearts to help with and the faith that there is still good in the world and that people can help each other. We accept help from anyone and we provide help to everyone who really needs it. We know we alone cannot save everyone, but we can be a kind of example to everyone else, a hope," says Demeter, "we know it's just a drop in the bucket and we hope everyone can spread our idea."
The project to aid Romani people in the most impoverished of Slovakia's settlements has succeeded, according to Demeter and Pavlov, and the Roma there have been grateful for the assistance. Both men, who are evangelical believers, say they were shocked to see for themselves how gruesome the living conditions in the settlements are.
Most such places have no electricity, running water, or proper shelter. Romani people live in communities isolated from the rest of the world and are also isolated from their own culture and traditions.
"We don't want to speak ill of anyone, not the government and not the people, as to why they are living like that. We don't want to argue about where the problem begins and who is responsible for it. We are Christians and so we want to help, we want to help solve this problem. We would like to give Romani people in the most impoverished settlements the chance to overcome their isolation and join the normal life of society. We want to give them faith that it is possible for things to change," Demeter emphasized.
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