99% of the Roma children in Ukraine do not have the opportunity to participate in online education. The Transcarpathian Regional Charitable Foundation “Blaho” – hosting organization of REYN-Ukraine – helps Roma children to achieve their educational goals in an alternative way. In the center, children are getting ready for school through a preschool program. They learn how to write, read, do mathematics, and other things. During the lessons, the Ukrainian language is emphasized since most of the children speak Hungarian language at home.
“At first, we observed quarantine at the Blaho Center, and it was closed,” says Blaho director and REYN-Ukraine national coordinator Eleonora Kulchar. “Now we decided to continue teaching children, of course, following all the protective measures. We divided children into two groups of 10-12, and they all wear masks inside. After every lesson, we clean their desks with antiseptics, open the windows for the fresh air and wash the floors.”
Besides, Blaho center provides Roma families with clothes, toys, food packages, and educational materials. Roma women can also get psychological support or assistance with any documentation. After participating in a preschool program of the center, all Roma children attend Uzhgorod schools.
“Today, we painted the number 5 in the notebook,” says Camilla, 5 years old girl. “We will study the numbers up until 10 like this – painting them. After this, we will learn how to write. We have a big notebook and a small one. Sometimes we write in both. I like to study here. When I grow up – I would like to become a teacher and to teach Roma.”
Children aged 2-7 attend Blaho center, where they are getting ready for school, and some activities are organized for parents too. The parents learn about the importance of education for their children and that supporting their children in learning is crucial.
“Over the years of working with children, I have seen very smart Roma kids who have become writers, teachers, professors. They are a great treasure!” says Eleonora Kulchar.
Blaho center launched the first preschool program for Roma children in 2014. Until 2021, 190 Roma children participated and finished the program in the center.