TOY for Inclusion Play Hubs soon in Turkey and the Netherlands

Thanks to a new grant TOY for Inclusion will open eight new Play Hubs and expand to two new countries.

Investing in social inclusion must start with young children and their eagerness to play and learn.

Over the past two years, TOY for Inclusion has been working to smoothen the transition into primary education and improving the educational experience of children in order to foster integration.

The idea of creating non-formal educational spaces (called Play Hubs) for children and families to support their inclusion has proven successful. It’s four thousand the total number of children involved throughout Europe in 2018.

Recently two partners from Turkey and the Netherlands have joined the project and will open the first Play Hub in their countries.


AKROMFED, a federation of six Roma organizations will open a Play Hub in the town of Mersin. The partners are hoping to increase the access of Romani children to preschool, which is still limited compared to the majority population.

AKROMFED supports access to quality education for Romani children and young people from the age of preschool till tertiary education. The Play Hub would add to a playground for young children that is already run by the organization.


The Salvation Army Netherlands has joined TOY for Inclusion as an associate partner to open a Play Hub in their country. The Salvation Army provides social support and child protection services. Romani families are one of their specific target groups. Together with Romani civil society, the Salvation Army will mobilize the local community and create a new Play Hub.

One extra Play Hub in each country

In addition, the project will open one new Play Hub in Croatia, Latvia, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia and Italy. It will expand the group of beneficiaries to migrant and ‘hard to reach’ children too.

Read more about TOY for Inclusion here.

Remembering the Roma Holocaust in the Netherlands

- News

When discussing persecution of Roma during the World War II, references from the Netherlands are rarely considered. But the history of Roma Holocaust, or Porrajmos, is well known in this region. Unfortunately, not due to school curriculum but thanks to efforts Roma and pro-Roma activists, the history of Roma is remembered. Special thanks must go to Romani activist Michelle ‘Mila’ van Burik from Utrecht, the Netherlands.

On Holocaust Memorial Day, 27 January, Mila co-organized an event to commemorate the atrocities Roma faced during the World War II. When asked why this is important, she responds without hesitation: “It is part of our history, we need to know the true story. The families that perished cannot be forgotten” she says and adds that there is also the risk of history repeating itself; “Creating awareness is important whenever and wherever possible.” And that is also why they want to organize a Holocaust memorial ceremony every year.

It is the real stories, not so much the encyclopaedic knowledge, which attracts attention of young Roma people to their history. Romani Holocaust victims often lacked adequate official recognition. Even worse is the situation of Roma who came to the Netherlands from other countries. And Romani activists keep fighting for official recognition. “We were told we cannot be included in the commemoration of Dodenherdenking (Remembrance of the Dead, 4 May), because we were not Dutch Roma and Sinti. That was a clear signal that we have to organize our own commemoration ceremony,” Mila says bitterly.

Mila and her team organized the Roma Holocaust Memorial Day ceremony on 27 January and invited teachers and students to attend. Storytelling is the key aspect of commemoration. Young children are taught to respect each other and not judge other children by their descent, ethnic or other background. The message of Mila is clear: “Through stories children can learn to respect each other’s culture.”

In the current atmosphere of growing political populism, the importance and need for leadership is growing. “Politicians need to take a clear stance against discrimination and racism instead of creating chaos in society by looking for scapegoats and targeting whole ethnic groups,” Mila suggests the right approach. But then again, it is crucial that we do not rely on top politicians, but stay active and engaged ourselves: “Roma have to fight anti-gypsism and fight for their freedom. Each of us has means to fight, teaching young children to live together can be one of them.”