Transcarpathian Roma live in a parallel world. Girls are given in marriage at the age of 12-13, and a girl at the age of 18 is considered old, who can be "taken" only by a widower. A great achievement is when children finish at least 9 grades of school. The vast majority of Roma are illiterate, so they work seasonal and illegal jobs without any rights. Children eat when there is food, so they are happy with everything: milk, bread, porridge. Nevertheless, we can learn to enjoy life in this nation.
Caritas-Spes has been working with Transcarpathian Roma for more than 20 years. According to Roma NGOs, over 40000 Roma live in Transcarpathia, and most of them live in compact camps. The majority of Roma doesn’t speak Ukrainian. Such factors lead to the isolation of Roma settlements and this situation is observed throughout Ukraine.
Camps where Caritas-Spes Ukraine Mission works:
Caritas-Spes Mission is working with children in eight Roma camps, trying to solve the problem of educational lack among children's through the introduction of kindergartens and classrooms where children can eat and study. Most Roma understand that their children should learn at least to read and write. A big problem in Roma families is uneducated adults and, in fact, they could not get a job and provide for their large families.
Important is the fact that when Roma children are first brought to class, they often do not even know the basics: they cannot name the seasons, days of the week, or what a is notebook, pen, a book. But after studying in classes for a few months they start to read and count. But when there was an idea of creating such classes, another problem arose - the children did not attend school, but went begging with their parents to somehow feed themselves. Therefore, in response to this challenge, a number of charity canteens for Roma children were established.
In village schools in Transcarpathians, children do not have free meals, therefore Caritas-Spes charity canteens become a real saving for children and their parents.
Besides educational program and charitable dining rooms for Roma, Caritas-Spes has been constantly conducting training with adults in camps. Also, parallel work is conducted with women who are expecting a child, assistance is provided for the infant (a package of essentials and medicines) and support in the maternity home and medical support.