Our group went to the city of Prizren today to meet Iniciativa 6, one of Save the Children’s local partners. Iniciativa 6 established the community centre Jeta & Re in 2003. The name means “new life” and programmes in the centre are aimed at integrating children from minority groups and those with special needs into the mainstream education system.
The centre started with only five people getting together to create a better life for the local community. When they started, there were no pre-primary classes, and only 24% of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian children went to school. Now, 200 children are in pre-primary classes and around 78% of the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian children are integrated in the public school. With the support of Save the Children, who worked with them to establish the project, they are doing an incredible job in overcoming stereotypes about disabled children and minorities and in getting children into classrooms.
Ibrahim Krusha, one of the founding members of Iniciativa 6, explained to us the challenges in getting children from minorities to school. When working as a volunteer, he met a Roma family whose kids were not attending school. He made it his mission to explain how education plays an important role in children’s development. Every day he went to their house, trying to reach them. On the 30th unsuccessful visit, the parents had enough and told him, “If you come back again, you will have problems.” Ibrahim did not give up. He came back on the next day and tried again. Today one of the children from this family is in university studying to become a nurse.
At the end of the day, we visited the Children’s Assembly in Peja, which has 41 members from 27 primary schools with representatives from all minorities. This is a committed group of children from the 6th to 9th grades who want to develop a better education for themselves and their peers and to ensure the respect of children’s fundamental rights through advocacy and awareness raising. They distributed information flyers with the support of Save the Children and Iniciativa 6, spoke in a radio talk show, and met with the school directors and Peja’s mayor to address matters such as abuse and school conditions. It will be exciting to see their next steps.