The Roma community in Bijeljina is facing the consequences of the state of emergency

There are situations in life in front of which we are powerless, but at the same time strong because of a better tomorrow that we hope for. A pandemic caused by the appearance of the COVID 19 virus is one such situation. The whole world stopped. Wondering what caused the pandemic in Roma communities that, regardless of the current situation, are poor and weak? Tombak, Čopor, Rupače, Salaš, Mahala, Hidanovići and Divlji zapad are communities inhabited by our users. You also read in previous posts that the appearance of the virus has further weakened the community. It is. We also wrote about the fact that seasonal jobs have stopped. They did. Poverty enters all the pores of these communities. But these people are still laughing. You will hear music in their backyards, you will not hear crying. “It’s hard, but we will survive,” says one of the users, showing his hands swollen from work, because, as he says, “work must be done, we are slowly returning to normal.” Grateful when we ask them over the phone how they are, and even more grateful when we deliver help to their homes to make the next few days easier to survive.

Response of the Association of Citizens Otaharin to the crisis situation

Since mid-March, the Association of Citizens Otaharin strives to give the best answer to the situation in which we find ourselves. Through planning and strategic goals, the Association has undertaken an adequate response in the new situation. Informing users about the current situation through the production of promotional material, then the distribution of masks and gloves for users of the Association, the initiative for disinfection of settlements, regular attendance at meetings of the Crisis Staff are just some of the steps taken.

When it comes to the work of the Day Center, it is also adapted to the new situation. By the decision of the executive director of the Association, the work of the Day Center was reorganized. During the new situation, the employees were divided into teams and the work of the Day Center was adjusted to work in teams. In this way, users have continuous psychosocial help and support.

With the support of Save the Children, the Association has developed a new model of work that includes individual work with children, as well as consultations with children and parents by phone, in order to better monitor distance learning and fulfill school obligations. Through regular counseling work with parents, we recognized the need to provide additional support to these children. Following classes through the public service is a new way of working for all students and even for those children who come from families from the general population, it makes the learning process more difficult. Also, this type of monitoring of teaching requires the involvement of parents in the process itself. Given that most parents of Day Care Center users are illiterate and unable to respond to these needs, we decided to devise a model that would fully meet the requirements of distance learning monitoring. In this way, we strengthen communication and cooperation with primary schools in Bijeljina, and we provide support to children and parents so that as many children as possible successfully complete the class.

Partnership and perseverance in the fight to provide basic needs for 209 Roma families in Bijeljina

Otaharin conducted a detailed assessment and analysis of the situation in the Roma community, and accordingly we started distributing humanitarian aid.

The first action of distributing humanitarian aid was realized on April 16, 2020 and on this occasion, food and hygiene packages were distributed to 40 families provided by the City Administration of the City of Bijeljina.

The criteria and priorities for selecting families were:

  1. Degree of social vulnerability and need;
  2. Multi-member families;
  3. Elderly households;

23.04. and 24.4.2020 with the support of Save the Children, a distribution of humanitarian aid was organized in the form of food and hygiene packages, as well as packages for babies. On this occasion, 63 families with more than 220 children from 0 to 18 years of age received help.

Also, we are currently implementing the distribution of humanitarian aid provided by START FUND, and through Save the Children. This distribution includes 180 families who will receive one package of food products and one package of hygiene products. 25 baby packages will also be distributed.

Through the assessment of the needs of Roma families, the professional staff of the Association of Citizens “Otaharin” found that in most families, even the basic needs are not met. A large number of families are at high risk and this humanitarian aid will surely make their days easier.

The distribution went mostly smoothly and beneficiaries expressed their gratitude.

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