"The Kesaj Tchave project is truly an initiative that will help take the children of Kesaj out of the ghetto."
Fnasat, a national federation grouping the associations active in matters of solidarity with Gypsies and Roms, has initiated projects in Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia and France addressing youth education.
One of the pitfalls facing the harmonious integration of young gypsies in the countries where they settle - even temporarily - is in fact their lack of training. In Bulgaria, for example, only 15% of gypsy children pursue a secondary education, and the figure is down to 10% in Romania. In most of the families, craftsmanship is transmitted within the family circle - "informal" knowhow which is not recognized by the various national education systems, no more than by potential employers. Fnasat is therefore developing the "Roms et Voyageurs" program to reinforce this informal learning and earn it some official recognition.
Carpenters and musicians
Among the many projects supported by Fnasat in this connection, the Veolia Foundation has been asked to provide its help for two initiatives.
In Sofia, Bulgaria, 150 members of the gypsy community of the Faculteta neighborhood - where the jobless rate is between 70 and 80%! - will receive training in the woodworking trades. Carpentry, joinery, furniture: the young adults concerned will be able to refine the knowledge they have already acquired and receive high level professional training. When this is accomplished, they will be asked to put their new knowledge to work on the facilities of the neighborhood schools.
In Slovakia, in the town of Lomnicka, where the Veolia Foundation has backed a first initiative, the association Kesaj Tchave has started helping the 15-24 year age bracket already familiar with a musical instrument to intensify their skills and become professional musicians. The youths, taken in hand by experienced professionals who teach them Zigeuner music, are quickly invited to perform for an audience and can then prepare a competition to join the conservatory of the town of Kezmarok. Two of them have already successfully passed this competition.
Little by little, "classes" of young Gypsies will gradually begin to claim their rightful place in the societies of their host countries.