Christina Hooson

Christina Hooson (Dženo Association): Christina completed her BA in European Studies in London. At the time of her fellowship, Christina was studying for her Masters in International Affairs and Governance at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland. She first came across the issue of Roma Rights during her Bachelor studies in the context of the democratisation process in Eastern Europe.

Finding the words.

27 Jul

Blog references to my boss – the pragmatic yet determined Mr. Ivan Veselý, have until now been preoccupied with his nicotine intake. I’ve hesitated in devoting an entry to him sooner because I feel my words can only do the subject matter an injustice. Only now do I realize that the wait for the last embers in Ivan’s overflowing ash tray to die out is in vain; his wealth of personal experience and the brilliant inferences he draws from it are endless and will never fit nice and neatly into a single post.

Born in 1965 in a Roma camp in present-day eastern Slovakia, Mr. Veselý went on to become a professional soldier in the Slovak Socialist Republic, reaching the post of first lieutenant. After the Velvet Revolution Veselý himself fell victim to neo-Nazi violence. The incident in 1994 alerted him to the extent of the challenges facing Roma in the Czech Republic and convinced him to engage further with their plight. He has since emerged as a magnetic, dynamic and controversial figure who has made numerous concrete, positive steps attempting to make the life of Czech Roma easier.

Veselý’s unique outlook, which stems from his equally distinctive background, sets him apart and makes him a key asset to the promotion of Roma Rights. I myself came to Prague aware of my well embedded preconceptions of the accepted norms of democracy, equality and justice. Mr. Veselý does not shy away from reminding me of this and persistently urges me to think outside that little box otherwise known as the western education system.

The interview with which I leave you for now I shot last week at Dženo. It is intended to introduce the man himself, give another perspective on the Roma problematic and provide a taste of the work of the Dženo Association.  

Without further ado I say nashledanou and present to you Mr. Ivan Veselý:


Posted By Christina Hooson

Posted Jul 27th, 2009

1 Comment

  • iain

    July 29, 2009


    This is very good. The key question: what gives people like Ivan the determination to keep going in the face of so much nonsense? Is it because they are themselves affected by the problem? Because they have talents that find an outlet in this sort of work? Endlessly fascinating – and Ivan is a pretty unique and inspiring example! Look forward to more thoughts about civil society leaders as agents of social change….

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