Ostrava City Hall displays exhibition of Roma life and history

Opening of the exhibition, photo: CTK

Thursday saw the opening of an exhibition in Ostrava called "the Roma in our City". Visitors to Ostrava Town Hall are given a introduction to the history and lifestyle of the Roma community in the city. Dita Asiedu spoke to the head of the mayor's office, Dr Zdenek Sladovnik, to find out more:

Opening of the exhibition, photo: CTK
"In the middle of the hall there are some notice boards of a traveling exhibition with photos and written text about the history of Roma and the history of their lives in the Czech Republic. This part shows the way of life of the Roma, their housing conditions, their cultural activities etc. On the walls there are other notice boards informing visitors mainly about successful projects for the Roma population in the city of Ostrava, also in the form of photos and written text. The visitors will be able to view the exhibition for four weeks, up to the end of August."

Why did the Magistrate of Ostrava decide to display the exhibition?

"The city of Ostrava pays big attention to the questions of the Roma minority in Ostrava - not only in the last weeks but for several years. The other reason is that the entrance of the city hall is used regularly for different exhibitions. Not only for local artists but also to show different aspects of life in our city. The Roma in Ostrava are also a part of the life in the city and not quite an unimportant part. Therefore we are sure it is the right place for such an exhibition."

Are the people of Ostrava interested in Roma affairs? How are you making the exhibition interesting for the non-Roma citizens?

"The first part of the question, I'm afraid, can't be answered with a 'yes' or 'no'. This exhibition may be one of the ways to get people to be more interested in Roma affairs and forget some of the old prejudices. It can be seen by many people who didn't know about it because they are practically forced to go through this exhibition and see the boards when they have to come to the city hall."

Are there any other projects that are currently being launched or currently underway - a few examples of how the Roma minority is being incorporated into the rest of society?

"We also wanted to use this exhibition to show examples of successful projects concerning this minority. For example, the pedagogical assistance preparing Roma children for elementary schools and helping the pupils with learning, then there is the project with the education of youths where students from the Ostrava University help younger pupils and students. Another project is street workers helping to fight the use of drugs in the Roma minority. But the most known project is without any doubt the 'living together village' where thirty family houses are built - 15 for the Roma minority and 15 for other families. The houses are almost finished and the village should be given to the families someday in the middle of September."