Celebration of the International Roma Day at RIC Novo mesto

By Tea Sulič
RIC Novo mesto

On the International Roma Day, we have organized a cultural-music programme at RIC Novo mesto where we have invited the members of Roma communities from our region. The celebration took place on April 5th 2012, which coincided with the date of the first international Roma congress in London in 1971. The programme was a result of collaboration between the mentors and teachers in elementary school for adults, and Roma participants of the elementary school.

At RIC Novo mesto, the elementary school for adult Roma has started in 1991, intended for Roma people who have left their regular school for different reasons. The good results of the elementary school for adult Roma (the elementary school for Roma is also carried out by RIC Novo mesto in the prisons in Novo mesto) can be found to originate in good connections and high level of collaboration between RIC, the Unemployment Office Novo mesto, and the Center for Social Work Novo mesto, as well as with the continuous care of RIC Novo mesto to include Roma people into various projects and activities.

In the cultural-music programme, the Roma have shown that they themselves search for creative ways and want o present themselves to the wider public. The event included music, dancing, poetry and exhibition of works created by Roma participants of the elementary school. The programme received a huge applause.

A group called Young Roma – Terne Roma presented themselves with the music act. The members of the group, which includes Rok (guitar), Ivan (keyboards) and Šanin (solo singer), are seriously considering publishing their first album. This act was followed by the hip hop dance act by the trio named Roma Heart.

We have listened to the recitation of the poem called The Gypsy’s Dream, both in Roma and Slovene language, which has been written by the Roma poet Rajko Šajnovič. Rajko Šajnovič is known in Slovenia for his constant stressing of the significance of Roma culture. He has translated France Prešeren’s poetry into the Roma language (Prešeren is considered to be the greatest Slovenian poet of all times. His poem »Zdravljica«, in English »A Toast«, also serves as the lyrics for the national anthem of Slovenia).

At the end of the music-dance programme, we also took a look at the exhibition of the works, created within the elementary school for adult Roma, within the activity of the Mobile Counseling Service for the Roma, and within the program Helping Roma with Socialization.

We have also talked with the participants of the event who told us:

Duška Balažek, Roma councilor in the Municipality of Novo mesto:

The collaboration of RIC Novo mesto with the Roma community is in my opinion wonderful. We wish that this kind of collaboration would continue in the future. I think it is important that Roma in our environment have the opportunity to continue their elementary education at the same point where it was stopped. I can estimate that the Roma participants of the elementary school for adults at RIC Novo mesto receive strong knowledge of great quality.«



Polde Jevšek, Centre for Social Work Novo mesto (Polde Jevšek has been active for many years in the area of social work with Roma):

I have been following the events organized by RIC Novo mesto together with the members of Roma communities for many years. I can say that I notice a great improvement in the event itself on the side of the members of Roma communities. I can also notice improvement on the side of performers as well as audience. The Roma performers are more and more connected with the non-Roma mentors and accept them. There is also a great improvement on the side of the audience. They follow the event with the great level of focus and are tolerant. Some years ago they loudly commented during the shows and were restless, but now they tend to watch the show to the end and reward the performers with the applause. I can say that social improvement is visible as well as the improvement in the structure of their leisure time use.


Milena Tudija, public worker at RIC Novo mesto and the mentor of dance and music groups Young Roma and Roma Heart:

I really like to manage music and dance workshops. The secret to my success is that I constantly encourage young Roma. I tell them not to hide their talents. They love to respond. The biggest problem managing the workshops is the fact that they are very excited initially, but soon their motivation fades away that is why they need constant encouragement.«




Brigita Hrženjak, education organizer in the elementary school for adults:

Each year we have managed to attract more spectators to witness this event. In addition to inviting their family members, we have also invited their close friends this year. But this was the first year that the Roma convicts from the prison in Novo mesto, who visit elementary school for adults, also joined us at the event. Some performers need a great measure of motivation, because they are afraid to perform. This year we had Slovenian as well as Roma programme host, and also two participants who recited poem in Roma and Slovenian language.«



David Balažek, elementary school pupil and spectator at the event

I really liked the event. I am especially proud at my sister who performed here. I am also very happy that a new music group called Young Roma has been formed. I also wish I could learn to play accordion. I can learn to play accordion at the music school. Then I could take part in these competitions and later also play in a music group.«




The Jurkovič family, spectators at the event

I visit elementary school for adults at RIC Novo mesto and I also took part at the event itself. I brought my whole family to the event. Little Aleksander tells us: “The thing I liked the most was dancing.”