HOTLINE - week of November 22, 2010
Assisting families affected by Indonesia's Mt. Merapi eruption; Ethnic Roma children and their families benefit from CWS program in Serbia; Youngsters in Pakistan learn about peacemaking.
In the past week, molten lava was still flowing from the Mt. Merapi volcano, which began erupting Oct. 26.
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Pre-school education for Roma children in Serbia is a challenge, as education reform laws require monthly fees that are out of reach for most Roma families.
In Belgrade, as part of CWS’s Roma Children’s Initiative, CWS and partner the Branko Pešić Primary School “have made extraordinary progress,” says CWS’s Jovana Savić. “Now, most Roma youngsters in Belgrade’s Roma communities regularly attend pre-schools and finish primary school.”
And now in nearby Smederevo, young Roma children like Aleksandar are also benefiting from pre-school and primary education at the Nasa Radost non-formal educational center.
“When I learned about the CWS Early Children Education Program and their plans to start a pre-school, I immediately enrolled my youngest child, Aleksandar,” says his father, Svetislav Nedeljkovic. “I wanted him to have a quality pre-school education and felt blessed, happy and grateful that this great opportunity came our way.
“My wife and I struggle daily to meet all the needs of our family and children… This program is helping us and other poverty-stricken families.”
At the Smederevo pre-school, which includes Roma and non-Roma children, the formerly shy Aleksandar is now motivated to learn, plays with other children and is an eager participant in class.
The CWS approach in Smederevo is holistic, fostering education, physical and personal growth, and empowering family self-sufficiency in the process. For kids ages 3 to 6, early education also includes providing good nutrition for healthy development, with breakfast and lunch each day.
Families still need incomes to keep their kids in school, from pre-school up through high school, says Savić. In Smederevo, CWS provides motivational and skills training for Roma parents, as well as income generation projects or small grants to help them start livelihoods, pursue other economic opportunities, or otherwise invest in their family’s food security and self-sufficiency.
"There is no better way to break the cycle of poverty and inequality than to invest in children," says Savić.
Through a CWS-supported project, teachers in Ramesh’s school have learned about peacemaking and related social issues. Ramesh and some 400 other elementary students in Mirpukhas District have received workbooks and are taking part in peacemaking classes.
“I have learned to solve conflicts from the workbook, which has many examples,” explains Ramesh. “Recently, during a game of cricket, I was able to prevent a fight between two players. I told them we need to continue the game rather than waste time fighting. Let us give the player another chance and select an umpire.” The dispute was resolved peacefully.
Ramesh’s example of the application of what he has learned illustrates that promoting peace happens one step at a time.
Continues Ramesh, “One day I returned from school and, as usual, began a discussion with my parents on ‘Peace and Harmony,’ while stressing learning to live in peace with one another. My brother was agitated about my talks on the importance of peace. He said, ‘There can never be peace in Pakistan, so there really is no point in talking about it.’” Ramesh says that, though he was a bit disappointed with his brother’s opinion, he replied, “We can make Pakistan a peaceful country because we are the future generation.”
Elsewhere in Pakistan, CWS continues to assist some 100,000 flood-affected families, helping to meet emergency food, shelter and healthcare needs.