Mormons Serve Roma Communities in Slovakia

News Release

LDS Charities, the humanitarian arm of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, recently approved a project to make 1,000 hygiene kits for the needy. To make this happen, the charity teamed up with a local conference for Young Single Adults and friends of the Church from Central and Eastern Europe, which took place between Tuesday, 10th July and Saturday, 14th July 2018 in Kouty near Ledeč nad Sázavou. There were over 100 young people from 13 countries which included the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, Germany and even the USA and Japan.

 

Conference participants were asked to bring several items to contribute to the kits. They then assembled the kits during a joint service activity. The completed kits will be sent to Roma settlements where they will be made available to children living in poverty. Apart from assembling the kits, the participants also helped in a local home for the elderly where they did some general maintenance, gardening and painting. "It was great to spend time with friends, enjoy the activities and at the same time serve together," one volunteer said of her experience.

Elder and Sister Schultz, who are in charge of the project, are currently serving as a Humanitarian Missionary couple in Slovakia. They instigated the project after seeing families living in poverty, often with no access to hygiene supplies. Elder Schultz described his motivation saying: "We know that the goal of LDS Charities is to serve the poor and the needy and to teach them self-reliance. The idea to help the poor children stemmed from that."  

"We met with Darina, the leader of six Roma communities. She gave us a tour of a settlement of approximately 700 people and she estimated that around half of them are children under 17. We saw dilapidated houses where there is no clean running water. The communal well in the middle of the village provides clean water for cleaning, cooking and personal hygiene. We found out that some children can’t even attend school due to lice and other illnesses caused by poor living conditions," Elder Schultz added.

The kits will offer a boost to children trying to improve their personal hygiene. According to Darina, necessities such as soap, toothpaste or tissues will be gratefully accepted, boosting children’s efforts to study and attend the personal hygiene courses that she runs.

Even though it's just a small help, it is an opportunity to support members of the Roma community in their efforts to improve their lives. "At present, a large portion of young Roma don't believe that they have any chance of getting out of this state of poverty. The mentality of ghetto life in itself resembles an ‘illness’," Elder Schultz concludes.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints provides aid and development projects for humanitarian purposes in countries all over the world. The projects take place regardless of the nationality or the faith of the aid recipients and are implemented mostly thanks to the donations of Church members, but also thanks to the donations of people all over the world.  Mormons believe that humanitarian service to others is a manifestation of and an important part of their devotion to the Saviour, Jesus Christ, who is the greatest example of genuine and selfless service to others.

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