Romani competitive dancer Tomáš Kaluja aids non-Romani foster parents of Romani children in Slovakia with understanding ethnic identity
Public broadcaster Czech Radio has profiled Tomáš Kaluja, a student at the Secondary Medical School in Rožňava, Slovakia. He comes from a Christian Romani family from Veľké Kapušany.
Since childhood, Kaluja's greatest hobby has been dancing. He competes in dance at home in Slovakia as well as abroad.
In addition, Kaluja is one of a group of Romani volunteers who visit Romani children being raised in non-Romani foster families in order to aid with the development of their Romani identity. As a child, when everybody else spent their weekends playing, he dedicated his free time to dance and training to compete.
Kaluja's parents invested everything they have into his hobby. Because of his love for dance, he changed his intended course of study.
He originally wanted to go to the Conservatory in Košice, but today he is studying massage at the Secondary Medical School in Rožňava. After graduation he wants to go to the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava.
"People can't immediately see that I am Romani. If they find out, though, their behavior changes toward me, even if they would never insult me to my face," he says.
Dance coach Julius Švarc has praise for Kaluja as a collaborator: "In his performance category, what he manages to do is rare. He can do both Latin American and standard dance at a high level, which takes a lot of time."
In addition to his dancing and studies, Kaluja is involved in a project called "The Perceptive for the Vulnerable" (Vnímaví pre zraniteľných). Together with four other young Roma, he aids Romani children living in non-Romani foster families and passes on his own experience to them.
The young Roma teach the non-Romani foster parents to understand the cultural and ethnic differences of their Romani children. This makes Romani culture accessible to them so they can motivate their Romani foster children to discover their Romani identity.
"I'm not bothered about whether I'm a dancer, a Rom, a Hungarian, a Slovak. I just perceive myself to be an ordinary person," Kaluja says.
- Slovak court compensates illegally sterilized Romani woman after 15 years
- European Court of Human Rights finds Slovak authorities did not properly investigate police brutality against Romani boy
- PHOTO ESSAY Yet another protest against fascist party in Slovakia, Roma turned out as well
- Slovak MEP of Romani origin rebukes fellow MEPs who are Holocaust deniers
- Slovak fascist party second-strongest in polls, yet another protest forces its rally to relocate
- Slovakia: Romani people protest against Fascists in the east
- Slovak President Čaputová awards Romani doctor and human rights activist with state honors
- Czech-Slovak co-production of TV singing contest to feature Romani celebrity on the jury
- For a third time, Slovak court acquits police of brutalizing Romani children a decade ago, prosecutor appealing
- Slovakia ahead of elections: Romani candidate suing fascists for defamation
- UK: Anti-fascists, Roma, students thwart planned meeting of Slovak fascists in London
- LIVE BROADCAST TODAY AT 19:00 CET: "Light in the Darkness" - Romani community gives awards in Slovakia
- Slovakia: Ultra-right calls for "asocials" to be sent to labor camps, police investigating
- European Parliamentary delegation plans to visit Romani settlements in Slovakia
- Slovakia: Café Európa discusses underrepresentation of Romani people in politics
- International Romani amateur boxing match won by team from Slovakia
- Slovak town bans demonstration by fascists out of respect for Holocaust victims
- Slovak Government apologizes for anti-Jewish measures during WWII
- LIVE AT 16:00 CET: Pope Francis meets Romani people at Košice's Luník IX housing estate in Slovakia
- Romani runner in Slovakia whose junior career has been so hopeful confirms she is pregnant
- Slovakia: Drunken, knife-wielding man threatens to kill Romani children for being in a park and is now in custody
- Romani-inhabited housing estate Luník IX in Slovakia sees start of local vaccinations against COVID-19
- Romani women and children in Slovakia assaulted physically and verbally by stranger at a lake
- Slovak Government apologizes to Romani community for brutal police raid in 2013
- Slovak Govt Plenipotentiary for the Roma Community says biased media coverage of animal abuse could spark anti-Romani hatred
- Slovak Ombudswoman and NGOs appeal to Government to compensate illegally sterilized people
- Slovak MP who is also a Romani community member accused of sexually abusing a teenaged girl, claims he is innocent
- After European Court of Human Rights ruling, Slovak court acquits yet another Romani victim wrongfully indicted for reporting a brutal police attack
- Slovakia: Racist politicians launch hateful anti-Romani campaign over state's pandemic benefit for impoverished children