Tereza Bottman

Teresa Bottman (Dzeno Association): Teresa immigrated to the US from the Czech Republic in her early teens. She then dedicated herself to understanding immigrants and marginalized youth and worked for Slavic American Youth Zane, an online magazine of writing and art by Russian-speaking American youth; Community Art Share, a showcase of artists from underrepresented group; and Czechs in America, a bilingual pod cast highlighting the experiences of Czech immigrants in the US. Teresa holds a Master’s of Education degree from Portland State University. At the time of her fellowship she was teaching high school Language Arts, English-as-a-Second-Language and Drama in Portland, Oregon. After her fellowship Teresa wrote: “I fell in love with human rights journalism. The fellowship was an incredible experience. I learned a lot, became more confident about my ability to interview people and present issues in an in-depth and informed way."

Resilience in the Face of Segregation: Slovak Roma Settlements

06 Jun

About four hundred miles east of Prague, in the neighboring country of Slovakia, which separated peacefully from the Czech Republic not so long ago, lie the two communities profiled in the documentary “In a Cage” by the Roma Press Agency.

According to the Czech press agency Mlada Fronta, Slovakia has more than 800 Romani settlements, set apart from the majority community. The count is approximately 700, according to the Slovak daily Sme.sk.

[Chmiňanské Jakubovany, Eastern Slovakia. Photo credit: Lukáš Houdek]

These settlements usually have very high unemployment rates (some even close to 100%) and lack basic services such as running water, sewers, electricity, gas or garbage collection.

The settlements featured in the 2006 documentary “In a Cage” are the village of Rankovce, near the city of Kosice, and the community of Podskalka.

[Chmiňanské Jakubovany, Eastern Slovakia. Photo credit: Lukáš Houdek]

What impressed me was that despite the isolation, lack of opportunities and the deep poverty which the residents experience, they have found ways to preserve their dignity, to establish self-governance and daily routines, and to focus on hope for the future, especially when it comes to education for the young generation.

The documentary’s director-producer is Kristína Magdolenová, a human rights journalist and editor-in-chief at the Roma Press Agency. Her aim is to open doors and to break down barriers of prejudice between the majority population and the Roma, but to also sound an alarm about the dire situation of the Roma living in segregation. Magdolenová says:

“Our aim was to open the door to the world of the Roma. To show them such as the majority doesn’t know them, through their daily problems, joys and cares. To show their real face without prejudice, without fear from their otherness, without misgivings. To show that Slovak society plays with the Roma community, always pushes them further to the edge in this overly hazardous game. A game with human potential, a game which can also be turned against themselves. The film wants to point out that we’re nearing the midnight hour and that we need to stop playing this hazardous game.”

The Czech Republic, where I will be on assignment for my fellowship, also has serious issues with housing segregation in its approximately three hundred “excluded locations,” as Czech ghettos are also termed. But more about that in another post.

The excellent short documentary “In a Cage” about isolated Roma communities can be seen here: In a Cage.

Posted By Tereza Bottman

Posted Jun 6th, 2010


  • tony montana

    June 11, 2010


    I am really thankful to the author of this post for making this lovely and informative article live here for us. We really appreciate ur effort. Keep up the good work. . . .

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