News Release

Organization helping Roma people in Eastern Slovakia earns Civil Society Prize

On October 16, 2014, the European Economic and Social Committee in Brussels awarded their Civil Society Prize to ETP Slovakia, a non-government organization in Slovakia.

ETP Slovakia received the award for their Building Hope project. The project helps members of Roma communities in eastern Slovakia build legal homes for the families to live in, while at the same time teaching members of these communities how to be financially responsible. 

Since 2007, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has partnered with ETP Slovakia to provide humanitarian aid and assistance to members of the Roma communities in eastern Slovakia. The Church has provided assistance in many ways for other projects put on by ETP Slovakia.  For the Building Hope project, the Church provided clean water for the homes.

ETP Slovakia’s humanitarian efforts don’t just aim to provide shelter to the Roma people in Slovakia, but to teach them to be self-reliant. Before a home is built for a family, they need to spend 18 months proving that they can save their money.

After they prove that they can save the money, ETP Slovakia, along with Habitat for Humanity, oversee building the home. The actual labor to build the home is performed by family members in that community. After paying small loans for 10 years, the families can then have full ownership of the home.

Elder Ross Miller, a country representative for the Humanitarian Services for The Church in Slovakia, said that ETP Slovakia’s approach to build homes while creating self-reliance has made a difference in the Roma communities.

“Because they build it [the home] there is a sense of pride and accomplishment and a feeling of ‘it’s mine,’” Elder Miller said. “That’s a big difference.”

Elder Miller said that ETP Slovakia’s humanitarian aid does not stop at building homes. They also build community centers where they hold classes to teach adults how to budget and make the most of the money that they earn, as well as courses on nutrition and food preparation.

They also provide classes to help prepare children to take the test they need to complete in order to attend school and gain an education.

“That’s truly changing the children’s prospect for the future drastically,” Elder Miller said.

The Church is currently helping renovate an abandoned firehouse which will serve as one of these community centers.

“We love to work with them [ETP Slovakia] since they follow many of the principles that the Church teaches regarding how to provide help that lifts them toward self-reliance, rather than making them more dependent on others. Thus being able to truly help lift the Roma out of poverty.” Elder Miller said.

ETP Slovakia’s efforts have assisted families in over 40 different Roma communities in eastern Slovakia.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been legally registered in Slovakia since 2007. There are four congregations in Slovakia with several hundred members. Worldwide, there are more than 15 million members of the Church.

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