Build up the body of Christ. Support the Pentecost Offering.

Webinar explores challenges faced by Roma population

Registration is open for the April 11 panel discussion

by Scott O’Neill | Presbyterian News Service

Photo by Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona via Unsplash

LOUISVILLE — The PC(USA)’s Office of the Middle East and Europe, part of the World Mission ministry, is presenting a webinar titled “Roma in Europe: Living on the Margins.” To be held Thursday, April 11 at noon Eastern Time, participants can now register here for the online event. The webinar comes on the heels of International Roma Day, Monday, April 8, a day devoted to Europe’s largest ethnic minority and to celebrating Romani culture.

The Roma continue to be one of the most marginalized peoples in Europe. According to the United Nations, Roma face widespread discrimination and segregations in housing, education, employment and health. In some countries Roma are overrepresented among children taken into state care, despite widespread denial that discrimination against them exists. A recent Harvard-based conference noted that the average life expectancy for the Roma population is 10 years shorter than that of their European Union counterparts. And its peoples have a long history of being labeled “inferior,” an attitude that led to sterilizations and murder by the Nazi’s in World War II.

“The Roma do not want to be assimilated in order to be accepted,” said Ellen Smith, PC(USA)’s regional liaison for Central and Eastern Europe. “They do want to be included with all the rich traditions of their culture. May we learn to live with one another, celebrating the other and not pushing them to the margins.”

The webinar will feature speakers from Moldova, Serbia and Hungary, who will explore the discrimination faced by the Roma as well as the challenges of navigating their way out of dire poverty. In addition, churches and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) engaged in advocacy and empowerment through education will present their efforts toward providing more inclusion, opportunity, and hope for a better future.

Marko Tošić

Confirmed and invited speakers for the event include:

  • Marko Tošić, the executive director of the Center for Youth Integration, an organization based in Belgrade, Serbia, that provides services and develops programs for children in street situations. Tošić has more than 15 years of experience, both in direct work with children and families from the most vulnerable groups, and in managing organizations, programs, and projects. Together with his colleagues from the Center for Youth Integration, he has dedicated his professional life to supporting children who grow up and live in extreme poverty, isolation and social marginality.
  • Szabina Sztojka, the associate minister at Colombia’s Church in Budapest, Hungary, and leader of the Reformed Church in Hungary’s national Roma ministry. She was ordained as one of the first Roma women in the Reformed Church in Hungary. The work of reconciliation is a passion of hers.
  • Elena Sirbu, a journalist and human rights activist. She heads the Roma Women Platform in Moldova (ROMNI). ROMNI is a nongovernmental organization that supports and promotes the rights of Roma girls and women.
  • Marton Juhasz, the executive director of Hungarian Reformed Church Aid, an organization that carries out charity service activities throughout the country.

Elena Sirbu

“We are pleased to work with partners who are providing services to Roma communities in Eastern and Central Europe and promoting justice for some of the most discriminated people in Europe,” said Luciano Kovacs, PC(USA)’s area coordinator for the Middle East and Europe. “It is important to have Roma leaders to speak on behalf of their communities and hear about their work as we will during the online seminar. This webinar aligns with two of the PC(USA)’s Mathew 25 priorities, eradicating systemic poverty and dismantling structural racism.”

Registration to participate is required here. Registrants will receive a confirmation email upon completion.

Creative_Commons-BYNCNDYou may freely reuse and distribute this article in its entirety for non-commercial purposes in any medium. Please include author attribution, photography credits, and a link to the original article. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDeratives 4.0 International License.

  • Subscribe to the PC(USA) News

  • Interested in receiving either of the PC(USA) newsletters in your inbox?

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.