Romani in Kojatice, Slovakia
The village of Kojatice in Eastern Slovakia, close to the border to Ukraine. Roma families are allowed to settle in derelict buildings given up by Slovaks; the settlement however, is separated from the main (Slovak) village. Large families live together in one room houses, which are built from scraps. Living conditions, especially housing standards, are extremely poor. Although Kojatice is connected to the national grid not all houses can afford electricity access. Cooking and heating is done with ancient stoves fuelled with wood from the nearby forest. Some families can only afford candles for lighting at night. Most apparent is the lack of toilets and sanitation, fresh water and a sewage system.
The Romani are the second-largest ethnic minority in Slovakia living mostly in the eastern parts of the country. Exact figures on the population vary, but are estimated at 400.000 or up to 7% of total population. Roma people endure serious discrimination in Slovakia and tend to suffer disproportionately from higher rates of poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, crime and disease. Roma children are segregated in school and don’t receive the level of education as other Slovakian children.
A multiple absence of basic human needs and rights is negatively affecting the health of the inhabitants and their environment. A lack of perspective is literally tangible and pivotal for the dire situation of Kojatice.