Romani and Traveller kids deserve heroes too

- Blog | Stanislav Daniel

Marley Dias loves books, but finds it weird that within their pages there were no black-girl heroes to which she can relate. Born from frustration this 11-year-old started a campaign called #1000blackgirlbooks, which attracted international attention. A year ago, The Guardian and other big media outlets brought Marley’s campaign to a wider public.

This week, Marley Dias, now 12, is in press again. Following the publicity garnered by her campaign she has signed a book deal with children’s publishing company, Scholastic. She will be an author and the main character of her own book. We keep our fingers crossed for her and wonder how many other children, including young Roma and Travellers, have similar experiences?  How many children explore literature but fail to find characters that reflect their own lives and experiences?

Growing up as a Czechoslovakian-Romani child, I too, lacked the chance to read about Romani heroes. Only years later did I discover Romani fairytales and later other heroes, like Rukeli Trollmann. But we are missing stories for the youngest children. There are some authors, albeit grown-up-ones, who have stepped up to help Roma children find themselves between the covers of a good book.

Richard O’Neill is a Romani storyteller who, in 2016, published two books; “Yokki and the Parno Gryand “Ossiri and the Bala Mengro”. Both books capture young children’s imaginations by presenting stories from Romani and Traveller communities. Yokki lifts the spirits of a struggling Traveller family while Ossiri, a Traveller girl, creates her own musical instrument from a willow branch and lots of recycled objects. And through these beautiful stories, Richard O’Neill reminds us of the ancient Romani art of storytelling.

It is crucial to ensure that Romani and Traveller children from an early age can identify with the heroes they read about. It is important for the development of healthy identities and it is better than giving up on book because they cannot relate to the characters. And so, while we wait for more young children to publish their own books, just like Marley Dias, we at REYN are extremely happy to see adult authors write about Romani children, for Romani children.

Only parents can beat segregation

- Blog | Stanislav Daniel

On the 6 month anniversary of the birth of his son, Stanislav Daniel Junior, REYN Co-ordinator, Stanislav Daniel reflects on what it means to be a parent standing up for your rights.


A year ago we published a blog post about the legacy of D.H. and Others v. the Czech Republic, the case that brought the segregation of Romani children on to the international agenda. On November 13, another anniversary will pass and another cohort of young Romani children in the Czech Republic, and elsewhere, will start their schooling in segregated schools, learning from their very young age that, because of their ethnicity, they will be put on a different track: a slower one.

Nine years have passed since the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights. Since then, Court rulings on segregation of Romani children have been issued against Greece, Croatia and Hungary.  A number of domestic courts, for instance in Slovakia, put segregation outside of the legislative framework. For years, civil society organizations and international institutions have been pushing for the implementation of these judgments. Recently, the European Commission joined in these efforts and started infringement proceedings against the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia for segregating Romani children.

Reading through the 2007 judgment, a lot of attention was given to the role of parents who consented and sometimes even requested their children to be enrolled into segregated school. Their reasons for doing so included avoiding abuse from non-Romani children, keeping the children from the neighborhood together, but sometimes – even if not explicitly – lack of interest in education. But should they to be blamed?  In the atmosphere of omnipresent discrimination preventing even qualified Roma from getting adequate jobs?  Frustration, not tradition, stood behind their decisions.

But as long as we admit that segregation is rational, the cycle of poverty and exclusion will not be broken. In most countries, parental consent is required to place a child into a particular school. Simply put – if parents do not agree with segregated school, they can object and schools or any other authority should not push them. Most of the issues, also those listed above, can be addressed if parents get organized and demand their rights, for their children and for themselves. As hard as it may be, we must stand up and reject discrimination in all its forms.

On the day that I write this blog, my son turned 6 months old. Today, I do not write as coordinator of Romani Early Years Network, but as a father who wants the best for his child. I refuse to believe that other Romani parents do not want the same and we need to demand it now. If we are afraid that our children will be discriminated at schools, we should address discrimination, not take our children to low-quality segregated schools.

As an activist, I have spent years in advocating for better living conditions for Roma, particularly young children and their families. But being a father brings a different perspective to my approach. Strategies and action plans may provide us with a framework for doing the right thing. Strategies and action plans may provide us with framework for inclusion. But we need to insist on inclusion in the first place. And we can only do it if we always ask for nothing less than the best for our children. Be it quality early childhood services, inclusive primary schools, high schools developing their talents or colleges increasing their chances to turn their talents into a living.

Let’s invest in young children, they will pay us back.

Creating Equitable Societies through Personal Transformation

- Blog | REYN Admin

Embracing Diversity – Creating Equitable Societies through Personal Transformation

Diversity RomaUnder the auspices of ISSA and the Bernard van Leer Foundation’s (BVLF) partnership project, “Capacity Building of Roma Supporting Partners”, ISSA Senior Program Manager Zorica Trikic, and Professor Jelena Vranjesevic from the University of Belgrade delivered training on “Embracing Diversity – Creating Equitable Societies through Personal Transformation”, in Rome in early November.

Embracing Diversity training promotes anti-discrimination and demonstrates how to build a society respectful of diversity. Hosted by ISSA’s Italian member, Associazione 21 Luglio, the three-day event welcomed 30 Roma and non-Roma trainees from all over the country, including some young Roma and Sinti activists.

The training was a poignant and rewarding experience both for trainees and trainers. Based on the honest exchange of first-hand experiences participants unpacked their personal stories highlighting how bias and stereotypes are taught, reinforced and perpetuated before working on how to uses their experiences to promote a more equitable society where diversity is valued, respected and protected.

Professionals from different universities and NGOs, including OsservAzione Popica Onlus, ABCittà, Mops (Movement for International Cooperation), ASCE (Association of Sardinia against marginalization) and University of Salento also participated.

ISSA trainers are available to delivering Embracing Diversity Training throughout the network.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Extending the deadline for applications for REYN Study Visit to Slovakia till March 5th 2014

- Blog | REYN Admin

We are happy to meet request of some candidates for additional time and extend the deadline for applications for REYN study visit to Žiar nad Hronom in Slovakia , which will take place from April 7th to April 11th 2014.

The theme of the study visit is Working with the most disadvantaged and marginalized Romani communities – empowering parents and enhancing their parental skills and knowledge”.

Please fill the Application Form by March 5th and send it by email to Zorica Trikic, ISSA Senior Program Manager and Coordinator of REYN, at:

Applications submitted after the deadline will not be considered. Only applications coming from REYN members will be taken into account; if you are not a member yet make sure to register by sending an email to, before sending your application.

The applications will be reviewed by the REYN Advisory Group and the ISSA management team by March 8th and, based on the information provided in the applications, 10 candidates will be selected to participate to the study visit.  If you have not heard from us by March 9th, please assume that on this occasion you have not been successful with your application, but we hope you will consider applying again, and hopefully next time you will be selected.

 For downloading application form and short description of the study visit go to REYN blog:

We look forward to receiving your application and to providing you with an inspiring and exciting professional experience!

If you have any additional question please do not hesitate to contact us.

Zorica Trikic

ISSA Senior Program Manager and REYN Coordinator

NEW PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITY! Call for Applications REYN Study Visit in Slovenia

- Blog | ZoricaTrikic

Dear Romani Early Years Network member,
Here we come with new professional development opportunity!
We strongly believe that by connecting our best experiences and learning from each other, we can make a difference for all Romani and Traveller children and their families.
We are pleased to announce that during December 2nd to December 6th, REYN, in partnership with Developmental Research Centre for Pedagogical Initiatives “Step by Step”, are organizing a study visit, to Murska Sobota, Slovenia, as part of our capacity building program. The theme of the study visit will be “Developing High Quality and Culturally Sensitive Early Childhood Education Services”. For more information about the study visit, please look at the document attached with description of programme activitiesBrief_description _REYN_Study_Visit_Slovenia
Here you can also find application form.
Application form_REYN _study visit_Slovenia .
All expenses for the meals, travel and accommodation will be covered by international REYN.
If you are a REYN member working as a practitioner in early childhood development services, primary health care, early years education and care provision, community-work, social work or advocacy/rights programmes, with or in Romani communities, and are interested in learning more about how high quality and culturally sensitive early childhood education and care services can be developed in the context of kindergartens and preschools, please complete the attached Application Form and return no later than 9:00h (09am) November 11th to Zorica Trikic, Coordinator of REYN, at:
Please note that applications submitted after the deadline cannot be accepted. Only applications from REYN members will be considered; if you are not yet a member do make sure to register by sending an email to before sending your application.
Note that the study visit will be organized and conducted in English.
All applications will be reviewed by the REYN Advisory Group and the ISSA management team by November 12th and, based on the information provided in the applications, 14 candidates will be selected to participate to the study visit. Successful candidates will be informed by email on the evening of November 12th. If you have not heard from us by the 13th November, please assume that you have not, on this occasion been successful and we wish you luck in the future.
We look forward to receiving your application and to providing you with an inspiring and exciting professional experience!

Zorica Trikic
ISSA Senior Program Manager and REYN Coordinator


- Blog | ZoricaTrikic

We are very happy to announce the REYN professional development activities planned for our members in the next months before the end of the year!

Here are the planned activities:

1.  October 2013 – Study visit to Romania – Thematic focus: Integrated Community Based Approach to Early Childhood Services in Romani CommunitiesHost organization: Ruhama Foundation

2.  November 2013 – Training event in Hungary – Thematic focus: Quality of Early Childhood Services

3.   December 2013 – Study visit to Slovenia – Thematic focus: High Quality and Culturally Sensitive Early Childhood Education Services – Host Organization: Educational Research Institute, Center for Pedagogical Initiatives Step by Step

4.    December 2013 – Study visit to  Slovakia – Thematic focus: Home visiting services – Host organization: Wide Open School

More detailed information on each activity (dates, number of places, call for application, etc.) will follow soon!

All REYN members are invited to apply for participation in these activities. The selection of participation will be conducted by REYN Advisory Group and the ISSA management, aiming at selecting the most relevant applications for the topic of the professional development activity.

Because we would like as many REYN members as possible to participate in REYN activities and also because of the limited places we can accommodate, every REYN member may participate only in one in-person activity per year. 

REYN members may apply for any of the activities, but if they have been selected to participate in one, they should no longer apply for the others.

All costs (including travel costs, visas, accommodation, meals) for participation in activities will be covered by ISSA.

Stay tuned! Soon we will get back to you with more information! In the meantime we look forward to seeing you online on the REYN Blog, Facebook or the ISSA Online Community!

Warmest regards

Zorica Trikic

Interim REYN Coordinator

REYN Members invited to give feedback on Draft REYN Manifesto.

- Blog | REYN Admin

Dear friend and colleague,

We are writing to you from the International Step-by-Step Association (ISSA) and the Romani Early Years Network (REYN) Advisory Group to share the latest initiative from the Network.

We are in the process of developing the REYN Manifesto DRAFT REYN Manifesto, one of the most important steps in the growth of REYN and a critical document in the development of the Network. Your comments and reflections about the text are of crucial importance for us.

The REYN Manifesto is the document that presents what we hope will become the basis for our common beliefs and values. It is also the document that demonstrates our commitments that will guide our collective work and our involvement in the Network’s activities. It has a potential to define REYN’s identity for its current Romani, Traveller and other members, and for potential members who share these values, beliefs and commitments with us.

At the first meeting of the REYN Advisory Group, on the 1st – 2nd of July in Budapest, we jointly drafted an initial version of the Manifesto with ISSA’s management team, for us to share with the membership of the Network and ask for member’s advice and comments.

We send this draft to you in the sincere hope that you will add your opinion, identify points that might be missing and engage in an active dialogue with each other and with the REYN Advisory Group, as a member of the Network. We want you to be an active participant in the process that defines REYN’s identity and image. It is important that at the end of this consultation process, the Manifesto represents the voices of all REYN members.

We welcome your comments on the text of Manifesto as well as suggestions for improvement; please, post your comments on the REYN Blog ( We will post the Manifesto on the REYN Facebook group, but it is important to have your feedback posted on the REYN Blog. We will respond to your comments or requests for further information on the Blog page (

The process of consultation is open from now until Friday September 6, 2013.

Warmest regards from ISSA and the REYN Advisory Group!

Liana Ghent, ISSA, Executive Director

Mihaela Ionescu, ISSA, Program Director

Zorica Trikic, ISSA, Senior Program Manager and Interim REYN Coordinator

Samanta Baranja, Educational Research Institute, Slovenia, REYN Advisory Group Member

Marian Daragiu, Roma Civic Democratic Alliance, Romania, REYN Advisory Group Member

Adrian Marsh, Open Society Foundations, UK, REYN Advisory Group Member

Miroslav Sklenka, Wide Open School, Slovakia, REYN Advisory Group Member

Andor Ürmös, Directorate General for Regional Policy, European Commission, REYN Advisory Group Member