Slovakia: Organic farm hiring Roma appreciated abroad, but not by the state

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Rudlov u Vranově nad Topľou, Slovakia: On December 18, 2013 the US Chamber of Commerce expressed its appreciation for an organic farm in the Slovak village of Rudlov u Vranově nad Topľou that is staffed by Romani people. For the past seven years, the Svatobor NGO has been teaching Romani residents how to farm there.

roma-Gypsy_settlementThe farm is supported from the sale of compost and vegetables and by providing trainings to municipalities. Slovakia has an aid package worth EUR 200 million available for Romani integration, but the farm has received none of that funding.

"When we came here it was like a jungle, no one was taking care of the land and illegal garbage dumping was going on. Today we employ 10 Romani staff members year-round and we have more than 100 volunteers. We have applied for support to the Plenipotentiary [for Roma Community Affairs] with five different projects so far. They told us that they like our activities, but that was all," says association founder Stefan Straka.

Last month a session of UNESCO in Paris also expressed appreciation for the farm. In a competition for best charity project of the year, it came in fourth place.

It would appear that, as per usual, the monies of those funds supposedly for Roma integration are used for other things that benefit the government politically rather than what benefits the Romani People in that country.

So much money has been wasted all over Eastern Europe that was intended for Roma integration and, it would appear, in most cases no one has the faintest idea what the monies were spent on and there is nothing to show for it.

When, on the other hand, there is a project available that would really benefit from a little monetary help from this fund it is being told that while they like what they are doing there is no money available for such a project which really benefits Romani People.

This also shows that the Roma integration programs have nothing to do with the Roma doing anything for themselves but they are intended (1) to perpetuate the victim mentality, (2) perpetuate the perception by the non-Romani as to the Roma being lazy, stupid and such like (which is not the case) and (3) it is jobs for the boys, so to speak, who create projects into which they “force” the Roma. In other case the monies end up in the pockets of certain presentation Gypsies that the authorities make use off and nothing ever is achieved at all.

Projects such as this organic farm are something to be lauded and not just with a few good words but with support by financial means which should, after all be used for Romani (integration) projects. That, however, would make them succeed and that is not what the powers that be have in mind.

© 2013