We Are Able to Integrate

We have the capacity and are able to not only integrate Roma, but also provide necessary help and comprehensive services to refugees.

At the end of August 2009, the ETP office was visited by Bašša Meššová and Peter Kresák, who informed us our project was selected by UNHCR to be the one to provide comprehensive social, health and education services to refugees under the protection of UNHCR.

Bašša and Peter told us that nearly a hundred Palestinians were going to arrive in Humenné in two weeks´ time. At that point, ETP had no experience with working with refugees. However, we had already gone far with Roma communities.

ETP has been working in segregated Roma ghettos for over 15 years. The quality of our long-term persistent and comprehensive work has been rewarded several times, including Gypsy (Roma) Spirit Award (2009), the ERSTE Foundation Award for Social Integration (2011) and the golden Civil Society Prize for the Integration of Roma from the European Economic and Social Committee (2014). Above all, the most important proof of the quality of our work are dozens of integrated secondary-school students; university students; hundreds of employed people, former clients of labor offices; hundreds of renovated houses; forty new rental apartments and ten new houses built to be owned by clients themselves.

We have the capacity and are able to integrate our own Roma fellow citizens. Our recommendations for legislative changes are regularly submitted to the relevant ministries, and the practices which we have verified in Roma communities have become integral part of our State´s social policies (including field social work, community centres directly in our client´s localities, financial education, savings programs, health awareness program, pre-school clubs in community centres and many more).

Six years have passed since the August of 2009. Over 800 refugees under the protection of UNHCR have since then arrived at the Evacuation Transit Centre in Humenné. These refugees have included people with different traditions, religion and way of life. They are all running away from the terrible conditions in their homeland, they are running away from war, widows and children are trying to escape contempt and abuse.

Our social workers, teachers, nurses, a physician, a pediatrician, psychologists and interpreters daily provide comprehensive social, health and education services to refugees coming from various countries (Afghanistan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iraq, Iran, Palestine, Somalia, Sudan and others). Our clients have different traditions and religions (including Christians – Catholic and Orthodox, Muslims and Yazidis). They include people without any education but also university teachers, people of various professions, single and married, widows with and without children, babies (17 of them born in Slovakia), young people as well as the elderly. Our employees include the Afghans, the Somalians, the interpreters from Iraq and Syria, who were granted asylum and have lived integrated in Slovakia for many years.

We have the capacity and are able to integrate not only our Roma fellow citizens but also to provide comprehensive social, health care and education services to refugees.

As a proof, we invite you to visit our Community Centres and the Evacuation Transit Centre in Humenné and talk to us and our clients.

To those who cannot come we will keep bringing updates on our first-hand experience. Please, meet our clients: Hani, a Somalian girl; and Faisal, a Medical Doctor and our Interpreter.

Slávka Mačáková, Director of ETP Slovakia