Within the project »Early marriage – culture or abuse?« a discussion for local general public »Do we just hear or are we listening to each other?« was held on Thursday, 29th September 2016 in the premises of Ljudska univerza Kočevje.

Brane Novak, Leading officer of working group for work in multicultural community, Ministry of the Interior (retiree), shared years of experiences of his work in multicultural community, mainly Roma community. He was honestly speaking about his work with Roma, approaches of solving conflicts or problems, social status of Roma, their culture, habits etc. We should be aware of different culture, habits, language as well as way of life within different Roma communities when working with specific Roma community. The key for successful resolution of Roma issues lies in a constant presence of “Roma mediator” in local Roma settlements. After many years of working with Roma he learnt Roma language which led to better communication and easier work, since »Roma accepted him as their own«. He also highlighted, the problems must be addressed immediately, later might be already too late. A discussion continued with a workshop, demonstrating the differences between habits or way of life (in general) of Roma and majority population. Two volunteers, representing the majority and the Roma community, were standing at the same side of the room and listening to a variety of statements (e.g. “Each year our family is going on vacation.” “I wake up early and go to work.” …) read out by Mr Novak. For each statement the volunteer could identify with it, had to take a step forward. At the end, the representative of the majority population came to the other side of the room, while the representative of Roma community didn’t move at all. For many participants the result came as a shock, but the situation is in many cases not very far from the reality. We should be more aware of the differences between us. The participants of the discussion showed a very positive reaction on the addressed topic and shared constantly their opinions, views, doubts and questions.

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