Advocating for the most marginalized
The Roma population is the poorest in Serbia. Faced with ongoing discrimination, Roma people live in marginalized communities, and many of the children don't attend school. Instead they often work to help support their families.
The Roma population is the poorest in Serbia. Faced with ongoing discrimination, Roma people live in marginalized communities, and many of the children don’t attend school. Instead they often work to help support their families.
1) Increasing the basic education level of pre-school children and supporting them to enroll in the formal education system.
The CWS Income Generation for Roma Families project, an element of its larger Roma Children’s Initiative, was developed to supplement an ongoing preparatory education program for vulnerable Roma children. By creating the economic opportunities for the marginalized Roma families, the project creates incentives for poor Roma to keep their children in school, promotes the value of education, and addresses the child labor issue.
My story: Adnan Hussein
“My family came from Kosovo in 1999. The Albanian mistreatment of the Roma population in Kosovo made us leave our homes, losing our homes forever in order to save lives. My family first lived in Nis, southern Serbia, where we rented an apartment. We then moved to Belgrade--my wife, my two sons, Ferdi and Burhan, and I. And we soon had another son, Fernando, who is now 5. Ferdi and Burhan are in elementary school, while Fernando will start pre-school. I worked temporary jobs when heavy manual labor was needed and collected paper to earn supplementary income. My family managed to make around $150 a month--not enough to live on. We ate little and were often hungry. At times, we were forced to rely on neighbors and even beg. We found clothes in dumpsters or received donations from Branko Pesic School, where the two oldest sons attend.
The story of the Maksutovic family
Alija and Elizabeta Maksutovic have five children. Alija had supported the family as a painter in Germany; however, in 2002, he and his family were deported from Germany due to their illegal status. His brother gave him part of his own house in the Zemun settlement. In spite of their difficulties, they have tried to send the children to school regularly. Alija had various jobs, such as collecting recyclable materials, painting and decorating. He gained experience working as a painter, but lacked the special equipment to start his own business.
In 2008, Alija received $1,983.88 in seed money from CWS to purchase the needed equipment and materials to run his own vehicle painting business. For the first time the family has enough income to meet their basic needs. Alija's painting business has also provided an opportunity for his brother Emir to earn income for his own family. Alija Maksutovic's family used to live on $150 per month, which was not enough for basic food. Now, he earns up to $400 per month and his family no longer needs humanitarian assistance. The family is moving from poverty to self-reliance and he has been able to help his brother, who had earlier extended a helping hand to him.
The Income Generation for Roma Families project is empowering and equipping marginalized Roma families to improve their livelihoods. CWS believes that increased household income is a prerequisite to enabling children to stay in school, rather than staying home to help support the family by working, begging, or tending younger children. CWS supports Roma parents through motivational, mentorship and business plan training workshops, and provides small grants to purchase needed tools and materials.