VOR May trip to Kosovo
The goal of VOR's trip to Kosovo is to dramatically increase attention for and visibility of the situation faced by the Roma in Kosovo. To this end, VOR has organized the following projects to take place from May 1 - May 15, 2002:
- A party of approximately 10 - 12 European and US delegates, including a well-known Dutch documentary filmmaker, will join VOR president Sani Rifati, poet, researcher, and Romani human rights activist Paul Polansky, and local VOR representative, Ado Gidjic, and Romani interpreters/assistants, Caki Skenderi and Hisen Gasnjani on a tour of Kosovo's Romani communities. The delegates will be housed in Preoce with Romani families.* The tour will include field trips to Obilich, Vuchitrn, Gilani and Shtime to interview Roma/Ashkali who are still under siege and are attacked from time to time by hand grenades. Also included, a trip to north Mitrovice and the IDP camp there, along with a side trip to the other IDP camp, Zhitkovac, and the nearby municipal garbage dump (where some Roma search for food on a regular basis).
- In an expression of solidarity and support for the beleaguered Roma of Kosovo, the delegation will participate in celebrations of the traditional Romani Holiday: Herdeljez on May 4th and 5th. One celebration will be in the town of Preoce, possibly including a concert at a hall in Lapje Selo. VOR is currently seeking permission from UNHCR to organize a celebration at one of the IDP camps as well, in Leposavic or Mitrovica. VOR will organize these events, including benefit performances by the world famous "Queen of Gypsy Song" Esma Rezhepova & Ensemble from Macedonia and Romani tambura player Rumen Shopov with son Angel on violin, from Gotse Delchev, Bulgaria, - along with local Romani musicians.
- VOR will be distributing its groundbreaking, newly published report, "The Plight of the Kosovo Roma" to international institutions, humanitarian aid organizations, representatives of the European Council, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Office of Security and Cooperation in Europe, Open Society Institute, and other organizations, companies and individuals working to rebuild Kosovo and/or to provide aid and assistance to minorities and displaced persons in Kosovo and Macedonia. Sani Rifati, Ado Gidjic, Caki Skenderi and Hisen Gasnjani will meet with these officials and representatives working in the region, to discuss the report and its recommendations concerning lack of security, freedom of movement, access to jobs, housing, medical aid, and schools for the Roma of Kosovo. Some of the delegates may also attend meetings to advocate for the Roma.
- VOR will be launching its agricultural sustainability project, providing milk goats and chickens to Romani communities in Kosovo. With additional funding VOR intends to expand this project to eventually include importing and breeding dairy goats for Romani owned dairy farms and creating small-scale Romani owned yogurt and cheese making facilities.
Please contact us with questions or to make a donation at:
Voice of Roma, p.o. box 514, Sebastopol CA 95473, USA
email@example.com, www.scn.org/roma OR www.voiceofroma.org , fax: (707) 829-1893
* Delegates will finance their own travel costs to and from Kosovo and the cost of their food and lodging while in Kosovo. Delegates should bring a sleeping bag and their own towel(s). Delegates are encouraged to bring vitamin C candies for the children, reading glasses of a variety of strengths, and pain killers for the Roma.