There are 5000 Rroma living within five impoverished settlement camps within the city limits of Uzhhorod. Most Rroma have never attended school, and those who have, the majority have not completed high school. Parents do not see the need for an education because of the rampant racism that will prevent their child from receiving a job anyway, and thus choose to have them earn money even in their childhood. Nearly a quarter do not even speak the Ukrainian language, further isolating them from the rest of society.
Historically, the Rroma (referred to as gypsies more commonly) come from Northern India. In the 18th century they were enslaved by Muslims. Upon escaping they began their roaming of the world for survival. Many of the Rroma do not have legal paperwork such as birth certificates making them stateless and unable to receive government welfare.
The unemployment rate amongst the Rroma is an appalling 63%. And 22% only work part time. Only 15% of Rroma have a full-time job. Many are forced to go abroad for temporary work to support their families. Often children rarely see their fathers.
Within the settlements, 80% suffer from tuberculosis and other such diseases, mainly because of the lack of clean drinking water. And because of the lack of official paperwork, they do not receive socialized medicine as the other people of Ukraine. Unable to afford medical payments, or due to racism even unable to enter some clinics, many suffer from medical ailments.
But the situation is improving rapidly in Uzhhorod and other settlements in Zakarpattia as more and more Rroma turn to Christ and the resulting transformation is lifting them out of their dire poverty. The churches we work with have doubled, and even tripled, in size as we have come together to bring about transformation. We estimate that 10% of the Rroma in Uzhhorod are evangelical followers of Jesus, whereas only 5% of Ukrainians are.
“Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord,
and he will reward them for what they have done.”
Our team works closely with the Rroma pastors in our community in bringing transformation to the Rroma people. We clean their settlements of mountains of trash, fix their roads, install lights on their streets, provide clean drinking water stations, and food for the children and pensioners. We also provided a clinic with a portable x-ray machine to diagnose tuberculosis early amongst the Rroma. This has already saved many lives. We are also building a community park as many of the Rroma children are hurt, even killed, by cars because they only have the streets to play.
How you can partner with us in this ministry:
- Pray. Become a strategic prayer partner and sign up to receive our prayer letter by using the link at the bottom of this page.
- Come. Prayerfully consider joining our team. We are looking for team members to come and serve two or more years in this ministry. Or consider coming as an intern for three months. Or maybe you might organize a short-term trip with others for a week or two. We are currently searching for a Director of our Rroma Community Outreach as well as a youth leader to train the churches in youth and children ministry.
- Give. There are a few ways you can help us transform the Rroma communities.
- Organize your Sunday School class of Small Group to collect $50 a month to provide food supplements for Rroma pensioners. Unable to work, they are forced to beg or rummage through garbage to survive. We currently need to raise another $300 a month to reach our goal of feeding 100 pensioners.
- We need to raise another $22,000 to provide a community park for the Rroma. The Park will have a play area and picnic tables for families, as well as a soccer field for the older children.
- We are also in need of raising $30,000 to purchase land and build a camp where the Rroma children can come during the summer. There are no facilities or camps for the churches to hold evangelistic camps for Rroma children.