At the First Croatian Rroma Youth Congress held from 9 to 11 October 2020 at the International Hotel in Zagreb, it was planned to host representatives of Rroma youth associations or associations that gather a large number of young people from Croatia and the region. However, due to the impossibility of their arrival in Zagreb, this part of the programme was held online. Introducing the item of the Congress programme -Rroma youth associations – presenting good regional practices, the following organisations introduced their work: Croatian Rromani Union “KALI SARA”, ROM HR – Rroma Youth Organisation of Croatia, Opre Roma!, a civic movement established in Serbia in 2019, “Young Rroma Club” from Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Rroma Academic Club (RAK) from Slovenia, the NGO “Young Rroma” from Montenegro and the “Roma Versitas” from Macedonia.
President of the Croatian Rromani Union “KALI SARA” Suzana Krčmar spoke about the work of the Union which brings together the largest number of members of the Rromani national minority in the Republic of Croatia, including a large number of young people. The Union, together with Member of Parliament Veljko Kajtazi and the Croatian Government’s Office for Human Rights and Rights of National Minorities, is the initiator of increasing student scholarships, as well as incentives for completing three-year and four-year high school education that can serve high school students in peruse of their higher education. The “KALI SARA” Union also established the first Central Rromani Library in Croatia, which is conceived as a centre of culture and cultural events, and it is an interdisciplinary space for the exchange of information and knowledge. The collected material can serve as a source for each pupil and student to follow and learn about the history and development of the Rroma people, their sufferings and achievements. The Union was also the organiser and one of the sponsors of the First Croatian Rroma Youth Congress.
Rroma Youth Organisation of Croatia – ROM HR was presented by Marina Horvat and Rosa Oršuš who pointed out that the Organisation advocates for the active participation of young people, and the Statute requires 50 per cent female, youth and Rromani national minority representation within all Organisation bodies. The Organisation has so far implemented several significant projects, including, for example, the EU project “Arise Rroma”, which provided jobs for ten young Rroma in various organisations, as well as the project “Rroma 4 Rroma” through which young Rroma provided learning assistance to Rroma primary school students also mentoring eighth graders in their transition from primary to secondary school.
In 2019, a civic movement Opra Roma! was formed in Serbia, whose members are young Rroma from all over Serbia, with the aim of providing civic education to the entire Rromani community in terms of information about the institutions of a democratic society. The work of the Association was presented by Anita and Alma Kajtazi who both welcome their participation in the historic First Croatian Rroma Youth Congress, even if only via the Internet application. They also emphasised that additional assistance and strength to young Rroma in Croatia has been provided by the Croatian Rromani Union “KALI SARA” and MP Veljko Kajtazi, who represented a significant support in all projects.
“Young Rroma Club” was founded by a group of young activists from Kiseljak in Bosnia and Herzegovina after they had attended a series of educations and trainings that helped them to actively and qualitatively participate in actions that took place in their community, related to the development of their home town Kiseljak. During the presentation of their Club, Asmir Husić pointed out that their vision is for the “Young Rroma Club” to be recognised as one of the mechanisms for implementing youth policy and youth work that contributes to strengthening personal, social and professional capacities of young people.
Promoting the importance of education for Rroma is the main goal of the “Rroma Academic Club” (RAK) from Slovenia. Through numerous lectures and workshops, the Club focused its work on the high school and university students from various regions in Slovenia, and also informed the majority population about the importance of education for Rroma and the Rromani culture.
The NGO “Young Rroma” has been active in Montenegro for 15 years. Samir Jaha, the executive director of the Organisation, pointed out that young Rroma in Montenegro are extremely active and participate in various activities aimed at improving their position and life. Initially, its activities were local within the municipality of Herceg Novi, but soon spread to the entire country, through the initiation and participation in various projects.
Elvis Memeti presented the project “Rroma Versitas” from Macedonia, which includes numerous activities and celebrations organised by young Rroma. They do not lack ideas and plans for future activities, but he points out that they lack the support that young Rroma have in Croatia.
All participants presenting good practices from the region held via the Internet at the end of their presentations said that they were extremely pleased to participate in the First Croatian Rroma Youth Congress and share their experiences, which can motivate young people from across the region to take courage and engage in activism within their own communities.