After the walk from the bus stop, you enter a long metal corridor and through two gates. A third gate, a guard, and a guard dog watch the entrance to the community of Kotva. You can imagine my surprise to learn that the Slovak government converted an old prison to Roma housing and still did not feel it appropriate to remove any of the safety measures. A pair of large, mean German Sheppards’ guard the compound at night and insure that the Roma don’t leave their homes, even to go to the community bathrooms.
However the surprise and feeling of repulsion at the situation soon evaporated as the smiles and greetings of the children filled the air. A child’s laugh has an amazing ability to pain over ugly surroundings. Team TAG’s job was to present a VBS program and show the love of Jesus to the children of Kotva. Despite the huge economic differences between children in the States and the children of Kotva, all children act like children. They want to be touched and loved; they like stories and singing. It was very easy to love these children and to feel like they love us. Kotva reminds us why Jesus said that we are to be like the little children.
Overall our third and last week here in Slovakia was wonderful. We provide the children of Kotva a break from their daily reality and just showed them that they are loved. We also helped a partner organization build relations with the community. We were partnering with Hope for Children, which is run by a German missionary and his Hungarian Roma wife (Yolanda), and provides an excellent ministry. Yolanda was an inspiration for me. She has a heart for helping her people and the hope she feels for the future of the Roma people was contagious.
Hope for Children works with young Roma children to prepare them for kindergarten in teaching basic Slovak language skills as well as whatever is needed. The goal is to prepare the children for kindergarten because many Roma children speak Romani instead of Slovak so when they go to school the language barrier makes them fail school and those children are then sent to special education school. These special education schools stunt children educationally for the rest of their careers. It was an honor to be an aid to the McNary’s in improving our partnership as was as it being an amazing experience simply helping such a worthy organization and being with these children. These are children who have already had a hard life yet the joy on their faces shines and one can’t help but to hug them and do all you can to show them that they are loved.
We want to ask your continual prayers as we go back to Hungary and serve the Roma people there how ever the Lord leads.
Your sister in Christ,