Part of our history: News from Brezno

Our house at the end of the streetOur house at the end of the street Our house at the end of the street Our community here was born in December 2004. 10% of the population are Romany and we decided together that we would like to live among this people who are so often treated as second class citizens. Eva and her familyEva and her family
A Romany priest called Ciktor helped us choose this neighbourhood of ‘PredneHalny’, where we found a small house with two rooms and a kitchen. We felt welcome straight away.About 900 Romanies live here and there are also a several Slovak families.
We begin to get to know our neighbours who feel at home in our house.There are many children who are so full of life.
Baptisms, funerals, and pilgrimages are special times to build up the links of friendship.
It is hard to find work. The men take on heavy manual jobs and many do ‘Euro jobs’. The European community gives money to those who cannot find work but who then take on 15 hours of Community work, such as road sweeping or clearing rubbish.
Gosia continues:
I work three days a week for five hours sorting rubbish. When I arrived I heard about this job and I wanted to have a try. There are about thirty of us, mostly Romany.
I am very happy to be there and we have got used to be together.
Our tools for work are our hands and a pair of gloves. What is the routine? A lorry drops its load in a big shed. We have to sort out the plastic bottles according to their colour. There are white ones, blue ones and green ones. We put them in big bags. A machine then compresses them.
We also sort out other containers, plastic bags, paper and cardboard. We put glass in a wheelbarrow which we empty into a big skip. We always help each other for this job as glass is heavy. Often out next door neighbours come to pick me up in the morning and we go to work together. During coffee break we share stories and spend some really good moments together. The work gets done quicker when we can share a joke. A sense of humour is essential.
Bozena-Jana takes up the story:
I come from Slovakia and I am the most recent member of the Community. Brigitte is from Germany and Gosia from Poland. I loved my job in Prague but I found it hard to make friends in a big city and few people came to visit.
Our little chapelOur little chapelHere it is the opposite. There are so many people coming to our house and sometimes we do not know which way to turn but I cannot find a job! So, for the moment I share the lot of those who are unemployed. I may be able to get a Euro job soon but meanwhile I go and collect blue-berries with the neighbours, when it is the season, which we try and sell. Sometimes we have to scramble up the mountain side and there are still a lot of bears about! In winter, with no fruit to collect we have to rely on our savings.
Living this very ordinary life enables me to go to what is essential in my vocation. I am reminded of a sentence from the Constitutions: ‘If God chose the way of poor people at Nazareth, this way must be one of new life and salvation.’