Iris Network COVID19 reaction stories – Youth Center Vermont

A large part of the members of the Roma national minority in BIH live in very difficult conditions. The current epidemic is just an additional burden for them. Little or no regular income, lack of information, poor hygiene, are just some of them. Activists of Youth Center “Vermont” within which the Day Center was working (until the decision on temporary suspension due to preventing the spread of the epidemic), visited some of the Roma families to whom they handed out food and hygiene packages of one-time assistance, adhering to the measures and regulations of the Department for security. “For us, this is just a continuation of the activities we work on every day. In our organization, young and hard-working Roma also work. Our Day Center was visited daily by a large number of children. Since we cannot work with groups at the moment, we decided to visit them, symbolically help, and provide some kind of help and solidarity in these equally difficult times for all of us”, said Damir Radenković, director of the Vermont Youth Center from Brčko.

In many families, due to the lack of the Internet and appropriate computers, phones or tablets, children do not even attend classes, and parents are said to be fighting for a piece of bread.

“My wife and I live in one room with five children, the oldest of whom has nine and the youngest, three months old. Until recently, we lived, or rather survived, from collecting secondary raw materials. There is no such thing now. We almost don’t have anything to eat, and we don’t even think about gloves and masks”, says Saban Omerovic from the Brcko settlement of Brodusa.

A similar fate is shared by their neighbors. Mehmed Salihović has six children. The eldest daughter is twelve years old and the youngest child is five months old. next to them are his parents, brothers and sisters, so that fourteen of them live in one household.

“I have an uncle in Germany who sometimes sends us something so that we can somehow survive. I would like to thank Vermont, because any help is really good for us”, emphasizes Salihović.

In addition to multi-member families, Vermont activists have not forgotten the Roma couple from the settlement of Prutača, who are preparing for the IVF procedure.

“We are certainly grateful for your help and support. My wife and I live in alternative accommodation. We have arranged it as much as possible”, says Samir Hokić, who also until recently was engaged in the resale of secondary raw materials.