Slovak TV program focuses on Romani girl who studies despite living without electricity
The most recent episode of the Slovak program "Seventh Heaven" (Sedmé nebe), which is broadcast by the JOJ television channel, focuses on a 13-year-old Romani girl named Anna Mária who lives in a settlement in eastern Slovakia. Despite the difficulties of living her life in poverty, without electricity or gas, she is working hard on herself and learning four foreign languages.
Her life began to collapse when her mother became seriously ill. "When I was three years old she had her first stroke, then a second one, and blood clots began forming in her brain. Then she got diabetes and it was her her kidneys and pancreas. When she had her third stroke it was ischemic. Her nerve cells were dying. They asked us whether we wanted to put her in a facility. We wanted to take care of her ourselves. It was not nice to have to look at Mom when she could only hum, and didn't know how to speak, and you had to teach her to speak. The things you did with her before you couldn't do anymore," she says during the episode.
After her mother's death, however, another difficult period arrived. Because her father was unable to find work, they fell into the debt trap.
Her father was so desperate he asked the mayor of the village to give him an official certificate stating that the father is not Romani. "You can decide for yourself whether there is racism here or not," Viľo Rozboril, moderator of the program, commented.
Anna Mária's father did not succeed until the 14th employer with whom he interviewed. Because he had failed to pay his bills, however, both his electricity and later his gas were shut off.
His worst imaginings involve foreclosure of their home if he cannot pay off his debts. His daughter would end up in a children's home and he would be on the street.
Anna Mária, however, believes that if she works hard on herself she may be able to achieve something in life. "If I want to achieve something, I must study even in these conditions," she says during the episode, adding that she would like to study at a Spanish college preparatory school.
"I kept explaining to her that the more languages you know, the more of a person you are. She has that ingrained into her. I am very proud of her," her father says during the episode.
"Spanish is what I love. I think that if I learn Spanish properly I might be able to then learn Cantonese, or I might be able to speak Norwegian perfectly one day," the girl says during the "Seventh Heaven" broadcast. "[The Spanish] are hot-blooded like I am," she adds with a smile.
Anna Mária is, according to Rozboril, and example to other children. "Right now hundreds or maybe thousands of children, including Romani children, may be watching this program, and now they may have realized that they, too, can attempt this. It will be worth it if even just one does, or 10 do," the moderator says, adding that he will continue to aid Romani people even if people write to him on Facebook and tell him not to.
The program producers have prepared several big surprises for Anna Mária. If you would like to financially contribute to her family, you can send a donation to this bank account: SK7309000000005064433000
- Slovak Police charge woman with threatening Muslims and Roma through Facebook, she faces six years in prison
- Slovakia: Criminal charges filed against play about neo-Nazi arson attack in Czech Republic
- Slovak Parliament changes regional election rules, extremists could benefit
- Slovakia: Black model in ad sparks racist commentary
- Slovak Prime Minister refers to Romani people as "Gypsies" during media appearances
- Slovakia: More than 50 children from socially deprived families institutionalized since year began
- Slovakia: MP for fascist party criticizes recipients of state honors because of their origins and work
- Slovak President gives state honors to 20 figures, including Czech politician
- Slovak President addresses anti-Romani sentiment in New Year's Day speech
- Slovakia: Commander of brutal police raid against Romani people prosecuted
- Slovak PM targets Roma in his speeches, critics say he should focus on his own corruption scandals
- Slovakia: Many youth support the ultra-right, study finds
- Slovak President says education is the way to address Romani issues
- Commentary on eviction in Slovakia: A rational society does not make a profit from or save money on the poor
- Slovakia: Study says failure of mainstream parties supports right-wing extremism
- This year marks the 76th anniversary of the Nazi murder of Romani people in a detention camp in Slovakia
- Chess player, age 11, is a Romani talent from Slovakia who is defeating adult competitors
- Czech NGO director tells ombudsman he should resign for refusing to acknowledge discrimination against Roma
- Slovak organization wins international award for aid to Roma during the COVID-19 crisis
- Slovak Statistical Office: People can list two nationalities in census, which begins today online only
- Fascist party in Slovakia seems to be falling apart
- Romani runner in Slovakia prepares for Europe's junior championship
- Romani people in the Czech Republic complain to retailers of security guards stalking them when they shop
- "Gypsy King" boxer Tyson Fury tells GQ he once gave his Louboutins to a homeless man in LA, but his giving doesn't stop there
- Best of the Romani musicians program BAŠAVEL in 2020, broadcast online by Czech NGO ROMEA
- Slovak quarantine measures in Romani settlement are over, police and soldiers no longer on guard there
- During Czech COVID-19 pandemic, NGO distributes more than 80 laptops to Romani students for distance learning