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Toy Library Brings Joy for Roma Children

by , Posted on 8th Apr 2015

Many Roma children don’t have the opportunity to enjoy all the wonderful things as their peers from other communities, therefore “Toy library” brings them joy.

What is the position of Roma children in Serbia? Many don’t know the answer. Unfortunately,  there are no accurate data on how many Roma people live in Serbia, not to mention lack of information regarding early development and education of their kids.

However, according to the last population Census, every third Roma has finished primary school, around 7,2% of them attend secondary school, while higher or university education has only 0.28% of the Roma minority. Unfortunately, the rest of Roma population that has not been included in these statistics and they are often forced to beg in the streets and struggle to survive.

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Charity organizations, such as cultural and educational Roma organisation “Romanipen”, fight for the rights of Roma children and strive to provide them the best possible conditions to receive proper education and be included in other aspects of social life. Novak Djokovic Foundation has recognized the efforts of this organization and has decided to support “Toy library” project, by donating a van full of toys, games and books for the children in Kragujevac suburbs.

Thus Roma children are finally able to enjoy their childhood, to socialize, make new friends and play with their peers. Thanks to this project, we have succeeded to make happy not just the kids, but their families as well, who can’t afford to buy them toys, didactic materials, books and coloring books. We sincerely hope that this donation will contribute to the process of their education and ensure they are not forgotten and excluded from our society.

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When we came to visit these children last time, they assured us that we were doing the right thing. Though they could not hide their excitement, the children were patiently waiting for a van full of toys to show up. Some of them wondered when it would arrive, others vividly imagined themselves playing with the toys. When the van finally came, blowing a short horn sound, the happiness of these children could hardly be described with words.

Many Roma children don’t have the opportunity to enjoy all the wonderful things as their peers from other communities. Therefore, “Toy library” van with Novak Djokovic logo arrived in Kragujevac to bring them joy and smiles.

I will play with puzzles, and then I will make a castle – said one boy, while other little ones gazed in wonder towards the pile of toys placed in front of them.

Some of them used interactive whiteboards to draw, others played with blocks, while the rest of them were busy coloring patterns from the color books and playing counting numbers games. Teachers and professional animators for kids helped children to explore all the toys. As they finished their games, they put everything in its place, so that other children could play with the toys as well.

These blocks are great, we have them in all colors! And these animal toys are awesome, too – said one of the girls, playing with her friends.

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The kids were constantly smiling, as well as their parents who brought them to play with their friends. Their smiles meant a lot to people who organized this campaign. Moreover, happiness and excitement of these children were the main reason to host this event in the first place.

Denis, what toys do you like most? – the teacher asked Emin, one of the youngsters who diligently assembled the castle from rubber blocks.

Well, I’d love to play with these cars too, and then to draw on the board – said little Denis.

On the opposite side, a few kids were playing “Man, don’t get angry” board game. They spread the board and were throwing dices. No one was angry. On the contrary, they were rather laughing as the game progressed. In the end, their parents joined to play.

Didactic toys, with which the kids played most, are extremely important for them to learn and have fun at the same time. In addition, such toys are essential for their early development as they enhance children’s intellectual abilities and help them show and handle their emotions. In addition, while playing with their friends, children develop various social skills, such as cooperation and tolerance.

Unfortunately, didactic toys are often inaccessible to Roma children due to difficult economic situation of their parents and the poverty they live in.

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There is not enough attention paid to Roma population. They are often forced to live in difficult conditions and toys are almost impossible for them to afford to their children. If Roma children are not able to have proper education they are more likely to start developing criminal and other socially unacceptable behaviors. Therefore, we must help them become inseparable part of our society.

Happiness and excitement of these children have inspired and motivated us to continue to provide the conditions so they can have better and brighter childhood, full of hope and dreams. Supporting and caring for them will help them grow into smart, good and hardworking people with a sense of social solidarity and responsibility.

Roma children and their families have to be included more in our society and exercise the same rights as other citizens of Serbia. The situation when members of the Roma minority have a living standard below the average must change for the better. They are generally very poor, have shorter lifespan for ten years than the average, and are often exposed to discrimination. Thus, we must do our best to secure them happier and brighter future, and include them in each aspect of everyday life.

International Roma Day is annually marked on April 8. Let’s give them the opportunity to become an equal part of our society, support their inclusion and accept them as they accept us. Novak Djokovic Foundation will continue to help and support development of the Roma community. We also invite you to join us and do something good for Roma children.

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