ROMA - R.A.E.
Serving Roma and Ashkali/Egyptian refugees in Podgorica, Montenegro, the ministry focuses on building relationships; only in a real relationship can one have the opportunity to demonstrate Christian integrity and the love of Christ. Therefore, all projects are designed to allow these two values to be demonstrated.
All ministry projects also intend to help the church members and the people in that community, improve the quality of their lives and open them for new perspectives and abundance of life they have in Christ.
The ministry has a practical but also a long-term approach.
Tutoring/education – initiated because because of the great need for literacy and education, the ministry provides tutoring for a group of teenagers for over a year, which enables them to go back to school. As a first result, three students have completed elementary school, and sixteen more in school. Besides tutoring, students are helped by paying for/providing transportation to the school, purchasing school books and supplies, as well as occasional purchases of clothing/shoes for those who cannot afford them. This is all to enable these youngsters to continue school and encourage their parents to support them in this process.
Legal Aid – most of the people who live in camps have had refugee status in Montenegro for the last 15 years. However, for various reasons, the government was unwilling to give them Montenegrin citizenship, so the ministry decided to enable them to apply for permanent residency. In order to apply, everyone had to acquire personal documents in the country of origin – from birth certificates to passports. Considering the incomes of the Roma, this was almost an impossible task.
To acquire documents, every single person from the camps had to travel to Kosovo or Serbia three times on average, stay there for number of days, and pay for all the administrative fees to get things done. Still, sometimes even that was not enough. People often came across various legal issues that they were unable to resolve and they needed a lot of guidance to be able to solve them.
Realizing the importance of having legal identity and being able to stay in Montenegro legally, our church pledged to help all our church members and their families and do everything in our power to help them acquire permanent residency.
Priorities are investing in discipleship and education of those recognized as potential church leaders.
The Roma youth also attend youth meetings, retreats and camps with the Brethren Assembly (another Stoneworks partner).
The goal is to expose Roma youth to influences other than those they are experiencing in the camp and Roma/Ashkali community in general. Our prayer is that as the result of this, the youth – boys and girls – will be striving for more and will have more ambition in their lives.