UNICEF donates a vehicle for transporting RAE children to school
TIVAT, December 22, 2008 – Eleonora, 9 years old girl, and her 7 years old brother Ljeotrim, together with more than 50 other RAE (Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian) children will not have to walk 14 km every day anymore thanks to UNICEF Montenegro donation of Toyota Landcruiser for transporting RAE children to school.
“It takes one hour to walk to school. When it rains it takes even longer.” says Eleonora who likes school despite this. “I like to draw. I know how to draw a house.” she says with pride. “I also like reciting”. She recently participated in the school show and recited a poem on New Year.
Eleonora’s father lost his job more than once in order to take his children to school on bad weather. “The road is really bad, as it is not asphalted. When the weather is ugly, I cannot let my children walk 7 km to school and 7km back home. More than once I had to lose my job in order to take them to school.”“The road is really bad, as it is not asphalted. When the weather is ugly, I cannot let my children walk 7 km to school and 7km back home. More than once I had to lose my job in order to take them to school.”
UNICEF’s donation of Toyota Landcruiser to Tivat municipality for transporting RAE children to school will ease the pressure on RAE families living in Lovanja and surrounding RAE settlements in Montenegro.
“We have no electricity, water, roads through the settlement and most of us live in barracks that are private property. Many RAE families are frightened for their future.” says Mr. Džafer Brahimi, president of the NGO “Association of Egyptians”. “I would like to thank UNICEF for this donation, as it will light up school days and the childhood of our children. I would also like to thank the municipality for providing us with clothes and free schoolbooks in last 2 years. This motivates children to go to school.” concludes Mr Brahimi.
Mr. Dragan Kankaraš, Mayor of Tivat, reminded of constant efforts that this municipality has made to include all RAE children in mainstream education. “In 2004, there were only 15 RAE children enrolled in primary education in Tivat. Today, more than 60 of them attend primary school thanks to the common efforts of the municipality, UNICEF and RAE NGOs.” Mr Kankaraš points out that UNICEF’s donation is significant not just for guaranteeing access to education for RAE children from Lovanja, but also for assuring their access to health and social protection services that are all located in town.
“Within the LPA implementation in Tivat, we made an analysis of the situation of RAE population in Lovanja and transport of children to school came up as one of the key problems.” says Jovanka Lalicic, LPA Coordinator in Tivat. “Now that this problem is solved thanks to UNICEF’s donation, we plan to organize catch up classes for RAE children by high school students volunteers twice a week. We hope to see these RAE children grow up in educated and healthy citizens who will break up the vicious circle of poverty.”
This donation is an exception that we were fortunate to be able to make. Montenegro is now a middle income country on its way to become an EU member state and UNICEF role in such an environment is not to support the delivery of basic services.Ms. Branka Kovacevic, UNICEF Montenegro Programme Specialist, reminded that on Poverty Day in October 2008, the UN Country Team signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Municipalities of Tivat and Kotor to support RAE population of Lovanja and “this donation is a concrete follow up to that agreement”. Ms. Kovacevic adds that this donation is an exception. “This was one of our vehicles from the emergency time that is no longer required for UNICEF operations. Montenegro is now a middle income country on its way to become an EU member state and UNICEF role in such an environment is not to support the delivery of basic services. Our programme now focuses on supporting capacity building of institutions, policy development and implementation for child rights, as well as strengthened planning, particularly at the local level – hence our support to Local Plans of Action for Children. However, we are happy to be able to donate one of our vehicles for transporting RAE children to school safely” concludes Ms. Kovacevic.