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
- Slovakia: Romani girl from settlement now champion runner in her region
- Slovak homeowner considers selling to Roma, so his neighbors graffiti his house and puncture his tires
- Slovakia: Dozens of children from orphanage ending up in psychiatric care - is it a business?
- Czech film festival visited by seven Romani children from Slovak settlements to promote "Silent Days"
- Slovak Police arrest Czech citizen and two Slovak citizens on suspicion of extremism
- Slovak court grants early release to vigilante who murdered three Roma at their home, prosecutor complains
- Czech kickboxer of Romani origin to compete next week at MMA gala in Prague
- European Roma Institute for Arts and Culture offering year-long paid internship in Berlin, Germany
- Slovak President-elect creates minority adviser team, Roma represented by Jurina Rusnáková and Viktor Teru
- Romani candidate has actual chance of becoming an MEP after party chair in Slovakia withdraws and backs him
- Czech town refuses to settle out of court with Roma whom they forcibly relocated 13 years ago
- Slovak President-elect says a single court decision cannot solve the problem of extremism and Fascism