Together we can have it all”

The referents of the Drom Kotar Mestipen are Roma women whom have achieved higher education. These are women of different ages with different profiles and trajectories. However, all of them collaborate from the entity with a common goal: to promote quality education among Roma women in order to overcome the triple exclusion they suffer for being women, Roma and not having access to higher education. Our referents, as Roma women, have faced many barriers throughout their educational trajectory. Now they are an example and a support for other Roma women whom aspire to continue their training or whom are facing the same difficulties. In this sense, our organization promotes contact and support between referents and other Roma women whom want to continue training, learning or pursue higher education.

Our intention is to promote the visibility of those Roma women whom are transforming the reality of the Roma people through their academic success. We also promote the bonds of solidarity between the Roma women themselves so that among all of us we can achieve our goals and dreams. Here is an example in which one of our referents, licensed in Law, through her experience encouraged another young Roma to continue studying. This is a young Roma who was studying compulsory secondary education and who dreamed of studying law, however the barriers that stem from a context of exclusion and frequent stereotypes about the Roma woman were driving her away from her dream.

“Hola prima, Me han explicado que cuando acabes la ESO te gustaría seguir estudiando. Me ha hecho mucha ilusión saber eso, porque siempre me alegro de saber que alguna “gitanica” quiere seguir formándose para tener más oportunidades en el futuro. Me gustaría animarte y apoyarte en tu decisión.

Hi cousin, I have been told that when you finish ESO you would like to continue studying. I have been very excited to know that, because I am always happy to know that some “gitanica” wants to continue studying to have more opportunities in the future. I would like to encourage and support you in your decision.

I introduce myself, I am Roma and I am 25 years old. Today I work as a teacher at the University of Girona, I also give English classes to a group of “gitanicos” and “gitanicas” of more than 25 years who are preparing to pass a test that allows them to enter the university and also work in a magazine that publishes articles in English.

As you can imagine I’m super happy to have come here, I would never have imagined that I would be doing all this and I know it was possible thanks to one day I decided to continue studying. For me the decision to go to university was a very difficult decision. In my house we are 4 brothers and none has gone to university, in fact nobody in my family has gone. My dad worked in the scrap yard and I was worried that we could not pay for my studies.
In addition, my father is a pastor and I have always been to the cult, now I am in the choir, and I was afraid that the university would separate me from God and my family. I was very afraid of going to college and I thought I would not be able to pass and that I could stay away from things that as a Roma to me are important. In spite of all these fears, with the support of my family I decided to try and I went to study Law to the University because I did not want to repent all my life for not having tried it. I had to start taking the bus and subway alone, there were days I did not have time to get to the service and days I had to stay at home studying. But every test I passed was a moment of pride to myself, to my family, and to God.

At the uni I made very good friends and learned a lot, it was a very beautiful stage of my life and the best thing is that I did not have to give up anything, today I am still the same or more Roma than when I started. The truth is that my stage at the uni flew by because I really enjoyed it. The day of my graduation I had to ask for more tickets so that all my brothers, my brothers-in-law, my nephews could come … imagine my friends were only carrying their parents and I was going with my whole house. My family was very proud, my older sister when I picked up the title of Law Degree shouted “honor to all Roma!” Hahahaha and they threw confetti at me and my nephews carried a banner, that seemed like a chore hahahahaha was very nice. After the career of a lawyer I did a master’s degree and now I’m doing a doctoral thesis on the church and the Roma woman.Through the association I collaborate so that many other Roma can continue studying and do not feel afraid to do so. Because if I and other Roma have gotten here, you can do it too. We have a great responsibility with our people and if we want things to change and for Roma lives to be better we have to study to be able to defend our rights better and demonstrate that we can too!

This is my story, I hope it encourages you to continue studying because it will represent a better future for you and for yours. I wish I could meet you. Now you know that we support you and that if you need help you can count on us. I am glad to have studied because it has made it possible, among other things, that today you are encouraging yourself to do so. A hug and may God bless you!”

“Letter sent by one of our referents to a girl from an institute. She wanted to study but her colleagues told her that it was not possible, that Roma did not study, that for example there were no Roma lawyers. The teacher got in touch with our association and a volunteer from the entity whom is a Roma and a lawyer sent her this letter.”