The Roma Educational and Cultural Center opened its doors on Museum Night

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    Foto: Phralipen

    As of Friday, January 28, 2022, the Croatian cultural scene is richer for another educational and cultural location, the Roma Educational and Cultural Center (RECC). The Croatian Romani Union “KALI SARA” with the support of Member of Parliament Veljko Kajtazi designed a space in which the development process  will continue through various educational programs, cultural creativity and media activities, leading to full integration of Roma into Croatian society.

    Educational programs will be intended for all generations, adapted to their age and needs, and with the aim of strengthening and increasing personal skills and knowledge. For example, there will be playrooms, workshops and courses organized for children and young people, special programs to help with learning and preparation for graduation, counseling, seminars and forums with current and priority topics. Cultural programs will include, above all, Roma artistic creation with the aim of presenting Roma heritage, as well as the expression of contemporary Roma art through exhibitions in the gallery space of RECC, concerts and promotions of literary works along with art workshops and courses. Media activities will include education and coaching of young Roma in the field of media literacy and also their expression and creation of media content, as well as informing through Radio Kali Sara Croatia.

    The opening ceremony was organized on Museum Night, the seventeenth in a row, and the partner of the Croatian Museum Society was the Croatian Romani Union “KALI SARA” along with the Roma Memorial Center Uštica and the Roma Educational and Cultural Center. For this occasion, an exhibition entitled Traces of Roma Culture – Meritorious Among Us was set up in the gallery space, designed by curators Sunčica Habus and Dunja Jakopović as a link between the present, the past and the future in relation to the place that the Roma community and its heritage have in today’s multicultural society. By choosing portraits of prominent individuals from the Roma community (31 portrait photographs), they managed to show a significant part of Roma men and women who emerged from the collective memory marked by migrations, violent past and trauma, and who significantly contributed to various socio-cultural and scientific spheres – literature, journalism, education, music and theatrical arts, acting, painting, sports, social activism and politics. The exhibition sheds light on Roma culture and history, thus raising awareness of the unjustified ignorance of Roma scientific, cultural and artistic achievements as a contribution to the development of civilized society.

    At the opening ceremony of the Roma Educational and Cultural Center, the guests in attendance, dear guests and friends were addressed by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Croatia Andrej Plenković, Member of Parliament Veljko Kajtazi and President of the Croatian Museum Association Vlasta Krklec. Among the guests, whose number was limited by epidemiological measures, and who accompanied the ceremonial program and toured the exhibition, were the Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Croatia Boris Milošević, Minister of Culture and Media of Croatia Nina Obuljen-Koržinek, Director of the Administration for National Minorities of the Ministry of Science and Education of Croatia Nandor Čapo, Rector of the University of Zagreb Damir Boras, Envoy of the Mayor of the City of Zagreb, Member of Parliament and Vice President of the Zagreb City Assembly Ivana Kekin, Head of the Service for National Minorities of the City of Zagreb Tanja Horvatin, Dean of the Edward Bernays University College of Communication Management Damir Jugo, Envoy of the Mufti of the Islamic Community in Croatia Mevludi Effendi Arslani, Ambassador of Azerbaijan to the Republic of Croatia His Excellency Mr. Fakhraddin Gurbanov, Ambassador of India to the Republic of Croatia His Excellency Mr. Raj Kumar Srivastava, presidents and representatives of the Council of the Roma National Minority from several Croatian counties, representatives of associations and the media, members of the organizing committee of the Congress of Young Roma and other dear guests.

    As part of the RECC, the Croatian Romani Union “KALI SARA” also launched Radio Kali Sara Croatia with the aim of stronger inclusion of Roma in various courses of social life and their better awareness. After viewing the exhibition, Prime Minister Plenković and Member of Parliament Kajtazi appeared as guests in the radio studio, and in a short conversation with the host, Prime Minister Plenković pointed out, among other things, that the quality cooperation has been achieved, marked by trust and understanding of the needs of the Roma community, and that it was formalized by the adoption of the first and second Operational Plan of the Government of the Republic of Croatia for National Minorities. The priority needs and problems of the Roma community in Croatia, as identified in the Operational Program, were suggested by Mr. Kajtazi, his associates and other relevant stakeholders who provide expert assistance to the Government in various departments, and their resolution, in addition to the Operational Program, is further facilitated by the National Plan for Roma Inclusion for the period from 2021 to 2027, and by the Action Plan as well, said Prime Minister Plenković and added: Project and financial support is crucial for achieving the goal in the form of better and improved quality of inclusion of Roma in Croatian society. This means strengthening all aspects that invigorate the identity of this nation, respect, culture, the use of language according to model C in the education system, but certainly funding projects that have strong symbolic significance as well, such as the Memorial Center in Uštica and the Wall of Pain, and if we turn towards the future, then of course, the Roma educational and cultural center in the center of the city of Zagreb as well, whose opening we are attending today.

    After the official part of the program, in a short break before going to the Literary Evening: About Roma Dream and Reality, where the Croatian Romani Union “KALI SARA” organized a presentation of books Dreams of a Roma and Romanipe – From Shadow to Light for visitors to the Museum Night, MP Kajtazi, in a statement for Phralipen, pointed out that the arrival of Prime Minister Plenković at the opening ceremony of the Roma Educational and Cultural Center was a great honour that he also saw as a support to the Roma people and as a confirmation of good cooperation and trust between the Government and coalition partners, including himself. I am proud that the Prime Minister toured the premises of the Croatian Romani Union “KALI SARA” and, in addition to the newly opened center, saw the Central Roma Library, multimedia hall and office space as well. In this way, he was able to gain an image of the scope and organization of the work of the Croatian Romani Union “KALI SARA”. Likewise, he was accompanied by the Minister of Culture and Media, Ms. Obuljen-Koržinek, and the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Milošević, who is also the President of the Commission for Monitoring the National Plan for Roma Inclusion for the period from 2021 to 2027 and who will certainly be able to provide even stronger support at the future sessions for the projects we are proposing. On this occasion as well, he could see that the funds intended for the Roma national minority were clearly implemented through specific projects, said Kajtazi and continued: Everything I do in cooperation with the Croatian Romani Union “KALI SARA” is well planned and coordinated; consequently, we work systematically and purposefully, not spontaneously, and I take this opportunity as well to thank my associates and employees of “KALI SARA”. In twelve years we have built the Roma Memorial Center Uštica and the Wall of Pain, the Roma Educational and Cultural Center, we opened the Central Roma Library, and most importantly, they are not just empty buildings, but their function is being realized day by day through rich contents and various events. I am happy that the younger generation, that comes after us, will have an excellent foundation to upgrade, which we ourselves did not have.

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