My story: Redzep Tafiri

My family came from Kosovo and we lived off physical labor and daily wages. We worked hard and have recently taken in my grandmother and grandfather, who had been living in one of the collective centers in southern Serbia.

Redzep Tafiri
Redzep Tafiri.
Photo:CWS

Be sure to see the CWS video Redzep Tarifi's new hair salon.

My family came from Kosovo and we lived off physical labor and daily wages. We worked hard and have recently taken in my grandmother and grandfather, who had been living in one of the collective centers in southern Serbia. My father is a hairdresser, and I finished elementary school and hairdresser’s school and have experience in the field.

I applied for a CWS grant to help me start a business--a hair salon. I would like to see my shop function as a legal cooperative and a community project. That's why I plan to work with two other hairdressers and also offer a place for trainees.

Currently, there are no hairdressing salons in our settlement and the Roma are rarely accepted as customers in conventional salons, or they are reluctant to go there because of their humble hygiene.

I've received all the documents for the legal opening of the salon and I registered my business in the Roma settlement Zemun Polje. I also registered my business with the national service for employment and received subsidies for the creation of new jobs. These subsidies will make it easier for me to pay taxes and other fees.

In addition to being joined by two other hairdressers, I also offer an opportunity for young, upcoming hairdressers, who have completed the “Branko Pesic” elementary school and enrolled in the hairdressing courses, to become our apprentices and perform their practice here in the salon. I think this opportunity will be a turning point for so many young people because currently it is extremely hard for them to find openings in other salons in the city.

I sometimes feel like I’ve taken a challenging road to ensure a livelihood and any kind of security for my six-member family because I am aware that it will take a significant effort on my part to attract customers and strengthen my business. On the other hand, for the first time in my life I feel that things depend solely on my own strengths and effort, and I feel energized and sure of myself. If my shop proves to be a profitable and valuable business, it will ensure a long-term income and thus stability for my family. It will also confirm that it is possible to use your talents, do what you like, and fit in and be accepted by a broader community.

I am so grateful to CWS for recognizing our plight, working with us and investing grants in our destitute communities. I hope my shop can serve as an example not just to my neighbors but to other Roma and non-Roma underprivileged communities that it is possible to start up registered businesses in their own communities.

Media Contact:
Lesley Crosson, 212-870-2676, lcrosson@churchworldservice.org
Jan Dragin, 781-925-1526, jdragin@gis.net


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