ROMA LIFE ZELEZNIK BELGRADE
About the Association "Roma Life" is a non-governmental organisation founded in 2002, aiming at the improvement of the living conditions of Romas and their integration in the local community. The association primarily works on the assistance to Romas in Belgrade Municipality Cukarica. It is active through the so-called boards and teams, such as: the Board for Education, Information and Social Issues; the Board for Culture, with the teams for music and folklore, drama, reciting, art, and modern dance; the Board for the Work with the Internally Displaced; the Board for the Work with Women; the Board for the Cooperation with Institutions, Societies and Associations; the Board for Sports; the Board for the settlement infrastructure; and the team for the handicrafts. Since its foundation, the activities of the association have been primarily focused on education, as the low level of the education of Roma is one of the key factors of keeping Romas marginalised. Moreover, the association makes efforts to offer the assistance and support in solving the existential problems of Romas. When thera re opportunities for it, the beneficiaries get the in-kind assistance (hygiene parcels, furniture, appliances, clothes, shoes, etc). Furthermore, the association works on the promotion of a rich culture and tradition of Romas. Since 2003, "Roma Life" gets the financial assistance from the Department for Culture of the City of Belgrade, for organising cultural activities and taking part in folklore and music events, etc. Projects Since 2002, with the support of UNHCR, the association "Roma Life" has run the Kindergarten, which has been successfully preparing the Roma children for school. Around 50 children aged 4 to 7 attend the kindergarten annually. The beneficiaries are local and internally displaced Roma children from Kosovo and Metohija. Since its beginning, the total of 53 children has been enrolled in school. The association keeps monitoring the progress of the children and actively cooperates with the parents and the schools. In the beginning of 2004, the association started a successful cooperation with primary schools in Sremcica and Zeleznik, where the programme for assistance to the Roma children is implemented, funded by the Ministry of Education. As part of the Kindergarten Project, we not only successfully motivate the children for education, but we also motivate the parents, especially mothers, to take an active role in the process of monitoring the regular education of their children. Since October 2004, we are implementing the project "Workshops for the Empowerment and Integration of Roma Women in the Local Community", funded by UNHCR as well. The beneficiaries are 30 Roma women from Cukarica and Kosovo. They are primarily mothers of the children who attend the kindergarten. The project aims at the increase of self-confidence, raising the awareness of the needs and emotions, the improvement of communication skills and the parental competence, raising the awareness about the importance of education, the education about the human rights, the prevention of family violence and the legal advice. In the previous period, the association became the point of support for the Romas in Cukarica Municipality. They regularly address us for the assistance and information. Moreover, we have successfully been cooperating with organisation and associations in our country and abroad: UNHCR, ICS - Italian Consortium of Solidarity (our partner in the implementation of the projects supported by UNHCR), "Admira", Red Cross Cukarica, a large number of Roma associations, as well as municipal institutions.