The Naša Radost school is an inclusive pre-school in Smederevo that serves the most vulnerable and marginalized groups in Serbia. Children from Roma settlements and children with developmental and other disabilities attend the school. They are not only being prepared to enter primary school but, along with their parents and teachers, are learning to grow food.
The school ground has enough land for vegetable cultivation, so the kids are involved with site preparation and growing. A parent donated organic seeds, raising awareness about nutrition and environmental protection and teaching kids and adults how to grow their own food. Food for seven area schools is prepared at the site. The school is feeding bodies and minds – one cannot focus on learning if hungry – while giving parents and kids the knowledge and skills to fight hunger. They’re learning how to raise food and getting the skills to provide for themselves in the long run.
The CWS partnership with Naša Radost began four years ago. CWS bought a mini-bus used to transport children and supported an education seminar for parents and teachers.
For Roma children, the school plays an important role in preparing them to enter mainstream education – and ultimately integrate into society. Baba is a fieldworker who speaks to families to encourage them to enroll their kids. This is often a slow process based on building trust, and Baba becomes a link between the families and the system. Many Roma children have no birth certificates and their families have no means to provide school supplies. The school works with parents to overcome the many hurdles to be sure kids have a chance at a brighter future.
Feeding bodies and minds, working with kids and their parents, to build brighter futures. CWS in action.
Amy Bobbette, Associate Regional Director, CWS-Upstate New York