The work among the gypsy community in Odessa, Ukraine is led by Pastor Maxim Dzhum. Maxim, works in many gypsy villages in the Odessa region. There is a population of approximately 12,000 gypsy families in Odessa. The gypsy villages are over crowded. In many places the houses do not have sewage or a water supply. Although all families have a right to attend hospital, medication has to be paid for. The nationals themselves have to pay. Sadly, the gypsy community generally cannot afford medication, so will rely on herbal remedies.
The main drive and purpose of the work is to bring education to the gypsy families, also to enable them to be registered by the local government, this will allow them access to work and make their home a more secure place without the risk of them being evicted.
Max works in extremely poor areas where the children are sent out to beg by their parents. One of the main problems is that the parents are illiterate. They do not always understand the need for education; they also require the girls to help with the house work. The living conditions are dreadful, which is not conducive for the student doing homework. Many of the people live in small houses.
The school in Palermo is based on Christian principles, teaching the children right from wrong. Sadly, many nationals think that the gypsy community will steal from them. Inevitably, they are immediately accused. In the past these accusations have probably been correct. With education and respect for themselves, the educators believe that their mindset will change.
At the present time there are approximately 14 children attending day school, their ages ranging from 5-13years. Maxim has 2 teachers and one social worker, plus one volunteer helping in the teaching program. The main teaching is reading, writing and arithmetic. The children are given a midday dinner and supplied with clothing when needed . Parent meetings are held which is a good step in educating the parents with the needs of their children.
As well as giving the children regular lessons, they are taken away on summer camps. The children really enjoy the camps, it allows them to learn much needed social skills, as well as having lots of fun. The educators are not able to run daily classes yet, but are working towards this. The number of students vary according to the families situation.
As soon as the students reach a level of education and can communicate in Ukrainian, they will go to the state school, which is their right, but until this level is reached it is impossible for them to be there. It would mean ridicule by the other students if their level of language was poor.
THE ONGOING NEEDS ARE….
(1) The supply of education material.
(2). Salaries for the teachers.
(3). Covering the cost of transport to go to the villages and summer camps.
(4). Any urgent medical supplies.
(5). Payment for the school buildings which are usually rented places.
Nikolay Burlutsky who also works in the Southern Region of the Ukraine. He communicates regularly with Maxim Dzhum and through his secular organisation, also covers the Gypsy Community. Nikolay helps the community with Humanitarian aid and the making of Legal Documents. Nikolay works with the officials in how to deal with the Roma Culture and discussing their needs. In this region the government have a law to integrate these people into Ukraine social life.
Nikolay is working with the Roam community to teach them how to deal with the local government, to aid the Roma people to be self governing and not always rely on help. The absence of passports and discrimination, closes their minds. Nickolay believes that God will help them break this cycle. In Miriofar there are 50 people in their church from the Roma community. There are up to 30 children aged between 4-14 yrs and they currently have to meet in a forest as there is no building. A contact has lent them a piece of land 1,000 metres square which they want to build a church on but the cost of this project is $20,000. Also there are men who have offered to build the church for free. It would also be used for education programmes and a cultural centre.
Working with refugees and the poor families of Eastern Ukraine, the work with children includes: Sunday School – Summer Camps – Giving Clothes to the Children and Education, preparing the children to transfer to state school.
Door of Hope continues to help support Nikolay and Pastor Maxim with the Camps – Feeding Programmes and Education Programmes.