Nova Skola publishes new book of drawings and stories by Romany children

Nova Skola is a local non-governmental organisation here in the Czech Republic that runs an annual competition called Romano Suno, or Romany Dream, aimed at giving Romany children the opportunity to express themselves in their own language. In the programme children are encouraged through co-operating schools, orphanages and other institutions to send in their stories and drawings, resulting in a final selection and a final volume published in three languages: Romany, Czech, and English. Categories include stories from varying age groups - from 11 to 25, while different topics are covered, offering many readers a glimpse into Romany life, through a child's eyes.

Romano Suno
Radio Prague spoke to David Murphy of Nova Skola and asked about this year's Romano Suno:

"We do give them three topics every year and every year the topics change. But, there's also the fourth, which is an open topic, where the children can write about anything that they want. It's very interesting because when we get them and read them, it gives us an idea actually of what's happening in the minds of young people now. Considering we've been doing this project since 1996, it really shows every year the change in mentality of the way that these young people are thinking. For example, in 1998, we began to get the first essays and the first poems and entries where we had students mentioning emigration. That the students would emigrate from the Czech Republic, that they would spend some time in England or Belgium and they would relate to us their experience. This year one of the topics was 'My Family' and that's one of the reasons why it was a little bit sadder this year. Apparently, the family situation is not very good. These children somehow feel that something bad has happened to them. Or that their parents have let them down. And, when they start to write about their family this comes out."

Here is a short entry from 11-year-old Vaclav Maly. The category is What Doesn't Kill Me Makes Me Stronger.

I am Romany, or sort of half Romany. My mom is Romany and my dad is white. One white boy calls me names every day, "You filthy Gypsy!" It makes me very sad. Our teacher teaches us about racism. That boy is a racist. He makes fun of me even if he doesn't know anything about me. He doesn't know that I am doing well in school, that I help with everything at home; gathering wood, helping with the young children. Once I wanted to fight with him. But my teacher told me not to do it. Smart children don't do these types of things. She said that this boy is stupid. Simply because I am a Rom doesn't mean that I am dirty. I want to do well in school so that I can become an auto mechanic. I think that everything will be fine. I have a good teacher and a good family.

If you're interested to hear more stories then mark down December 28th so you don't miss an edition of Czech Books that will feature a lot more from Romano Suno - Romany Dream.