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Expanding the student centre for Romani and Sinti children.

In a joint effort with the Malteser aid organisation we are renovating and expanding the student centre for Romani children in Tarnabod, Hungary. The aim is to give children a good education and at the same time ensure intensive mentoring.

The facility, whose primary goal is to promote integration and inclusion of Romani children in Hungary, currently mentors and supports around 150 children of different age groups. Supplementary tutoring and guidance on appropriate social conduct receive special attention. The efforts here have already born fruit as well: Malteser has succeeded in drastically reducing the number of school drop-outs and in keeping children in school until receiving a university qualification certificate.

We are building on these initial successes and are constructing a new school centre in order to provide the children with an even better environment for learning. In this way, opportunities for socially disadvantaged children can be sufficiently improved to enable them to find suitable employment or even be admitted to university. This aid project is carried out jointly with the organisation Malteser Hilfsdienst e.V.

Regine Sixt:
Happiness is when children from unhappy circumstances smile anyway.

A village with a sad story
Tarnabod is a Romani settlement located 80 km to the east of Budapest. Through its multi-level integration programme, the aid organisation Malteser Hilfsdienst is enabling homeless families to begin a new life. Many of the children only get something to eat when they come to the centre and particularly in the winter they will stay as long as possible in the heated rooms. In 2008, Tarnabod was targeted by horrific attacks from Hungarian right-wing terrorists, who fired on and threw Molotov cocktails on inhabited houses. Thankfully, all inhabitants survived. Our work with the children and promoting long-term integration is all the more important. And just seeing how much joy and life has come to the centre with the singing, dancing, language and swimming instruction makes it clear we are on the right path.

Tradition lives on
For centuries, the Romani and Sinti enjoyed good social standing in Hungary. It was not until the 19th century that things changed and these peoples were discriminated against, persecuted and driven from their homes. At around this time, the Lovara, a subgroup of the Romani, immigrated into what is today Hungary. A large number of people from this group were deported to concentration camps during World War II. Many died. And with them their language, Lovari. At the school centre in Tarnabod, however, it is being taught once again. It is part of the Romani cultural tradition and has a firm place next to integration in education for these children.