--- Article is based on the letter from Ivetka. ---
Small group of Gypsy people was established around seven years ago. Momentarily, it belongs under the church of Cirkev Bratska (CB) in Kosice. CB Church in Smizany is closer to them (approximately 15 km) and therefore tries to take the initiative.
Martin Kacur (from now on only Martin) leads Bible Studies two times a month, he travels there. Furthermore, he preaches in Sundays once a month and change with other pastors from the church. Also, he administrates finance one Gypsy family, so that they learn how to operate with money and are able to live with the amount they have. They are happy about it and they go on well, so Martin tries to encourage also other families. Alongside, he serves as advisor when there are conflicts which Gypsy people are not able to solve themselves. He leads talks, personal prayers for personal issues. Sometimes it is hard because one learns their mentality and their customs slowly and it happens that one does not understand them. The work with Gypsy people is starting to be more about personal relationships, education and sharing. One does not want to change their culture but bad habits.
Gypsy people are used to borrow money from moneylenders, they live directly among them but enjoy financial advantage. Right after social benefits, they take debtors their social money and the debtors have nothing to live from and therefore borrow another money from moneylenders. We try to solve the situation by negotiating small regular payments and stopping the increase of debts that way. Some Gypsy people will be paying their debts whole life. We teach them that debts must be paid so that their children do not inherit them. We also teach them not to borrow money anymore from various companies and moneylenders because it is a trap that is hard to get from. We have found out that borrowings are grossed up to unreal values. We therefore need to communicate with companies and try to find out the real values of debts. We think that companies are misusing their simplemindedness and send them high charges which are against the law. Gypsy people are not able to check it. So, it's a fight.
Concerning the income of one family, it varies from family to family. Mostly, when parents have six children and are involved in motivational jobs, they monthly get around 400EUR and maybe more. Their housing payments are small. But the problem are their debts. Families we work with regularly pay village for water and trash. It is a testimony for the village mayor and other inhabitants. Gypsy people learn to live from the amount of money they have. It is difficult for them but we see progress there.
One day we organized clothes collection. Gypsy people learn to also give. They, for example, decided to make a collection for one white girl who was about to leave to Glasgow and help with Gypsy people there. It was very nice of them. And if someone is without food and it is still a long time till getting money from social help, they help each other. We have a desire that they also help each other with various works like digging canalization towards house. We want them to help each other just for the sake of helping each other.
Marta, one woman from Smizany church, who is in her invalid pension, joined the work in playschool, which was suggested by Kathy. (Kathy and John are American missionaries who also help us.) Marta lives approximately 45 km from Vitkovce. She gets support for travelling from Smizany and also Kosice. She drives a car because for her it is the best for her health condition. She travels there once a week. One or two Gypsy women help her with the playschool. Marta is a wonderful person, gifted for work with children and personal pastoration as well. She knows how to advice people, how to explain them God's principles. She shares herself a lot and opens her life to them.
Purpose of the playschool is to bring the Slovak language nearer to children, so that they understand the language in school. We also encourage mums to speak with their kids in Slovak. We teach kids how to hold crayons, pen. They are so happy when they can color their painting sheets. We train counting with them, some plays, simple puzzles, we blow soap bubbles and do other activities. It is such a joy. We draw with chalk, put lego together ... whatever what comes to our minds. We have to bring the necessary things with us and then also take with us because the playschool takes place in house of one woman. The playschools takes from an hour to two. Sometimes we go outside for play. Marta comes every Thursday but every Tuesday comes Iveta Kacurova (wife of Martin). Some tools they take from home, sometimes they buy from their own money and sometimes they use money from various collections like clothes collection.
If we managed to find another person who would like to work with kids, we would be able to do more things with them. And if we knew that there would be financial support for it, it would be much better.
In future, we would like to either buy a house or a land to build a chapel that would also serve as a place for studying and for library.
There is also a desire to establish praising group that would invest time into music and singing. Two men are learning to play guitar. We are happy about it. Now we are collecting Gypsy's songs and woud like to create a songbook.
If you would like to help in any way, please let me know via this homepage. Thank you very much.
Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to meet Gypsy people in Vitkovce. Martin took me there. Gypsy people I met are simple people, but very nice. We sat together at one table. We had fun and great time together. They hosted us with coffee, tea and tasty cookies. I also learned a lot about them. One story I would like to share. One woman was heavy alcohlic and smoker and did not have money left for food. But when she received Christ she stopped to drink and smoke completely. She is a very wonderful person and also helps with the playschool. Upon my leave, I hugged with her as well as other Gypsy people. I hope they continue their jorney in Christ. God bless them.
Beginning of May, I was there again. I went to visit my friend John living now in Kosice and I also wished to see people in Vitkovce, so he took me there. It was a pleasant time spent there. Also, lot of progress can be seen. People learned to cook cheeper but still tasty and healthy food. Little kids improved in Slovak and are bringing better grades from their schools. And they no more borrow money from usurers. They instead learned to help each other. It was sad to see one man who lost his one leg. But I am glad I could be John's translator. He said many wise and encouraging words. The man can become wisest man in the village.