The Roma people are one of Europe’s largest and most disadvantaged ethnic groups. Thousands of Roma people live in communities that lack basic infrastructure with little or no maintenance. Twelve of these Roma villages are outside of the capital city of Zagreb, Croatia.
Often suffering prejudice and rejection, hundreds of Roma families live without basic necessities, such as running water and toilets. Their streets are often flooded with filth and sewage. Unemployment is high, and medical care is nonexistent. These difficult living conditions make it nearly impossible to foster learning or provide basic education for children and young adults. Without appropriate life skills and education, proper leadership, or an understanding of the love Jesus offers, they face a future with little hope.
Most Roma children follow in their parents’ footsteps. They do not finish high school and often marry by age 15 or 16. This leads to repeating the cycle of hopelessness that has plagued their culture for decades.
Breaking the cycle
The Bright Futures program, a ministry of ITeams’ partner Gospel on the Go, is committed to working alongside the Roma people modeling the ways of Jesus. The program mentors and supports children from Roma communities to help them complete primary school and then to progress to high school and beyond. By intentionally investing in the youth of the Roma villages, we believe they will become the future leaders of their communities, bringing about true transformation that leads to hope and sustainable change.
Each child supported by the Bright Futures program receives a tutor, mentor, food and lodging, transportation, and books. We already see a noticeable difference in the Roma children who are participating in the program. Not only are they growing academically, they are demonstrating interest in learning more about Jesus.
One student, Dario, has become much less aggressive to his peers and leaders. He listens and willingly participates in the classroom. His legal guardians also cooperate in reinforcing these positive behaviors at home. Bright Futures staff are delighted to watch his life transform and see his family impacted for the better.
We have also noticed a transformation occurring amongst the young girls. In the beginning, they didn’t understand the value of education. And they didn’t understand that Jesus loves them. Now, after a time of mentoring, they are beginning to believe they have value and are worthy of dreaming about having a career.
As the lives of these children are transformed through Bright Futures, we believe the Roma communities will begin to see hope for change and know they too are loved by Jesus.
Please pray for the lives of these Roma children, as they learn about Jesus and learn about their value in his eyes.
Will you consider serving with the Bright Futures ministry in Croatia? Check out our open opportunities to join this team. https://www.iteams.us/work/where/croatia-zagreb
You can also contact us at https://www.iteams.us/go