Printed 09.08.2020 05:21
Until recently four Roma families were living in a abandoned brick factory or Cihelna in Prague 22 in the village of Uhrineves. Some of the families had been living in what was essentially a small ghetto for over six years.
The buildings had no electricity and no running water. The families living here included 12 children between the ages of 4 and 15 who were living in what can be described as very primitive conditions. While poverty exists all over the world, the following photos give a glimpse into the type of situation that many Roma live in here in the Czech Republic and other countries in Central Europe.
The families moved here from Slovakia to work in what was at one time an active brick making factory. Shortly after the fall of communism the factory was closed and the families lost their source of income. Slowly, over the next few years, as they lost their flats, they began to move into the old factory and created living spaces in the building.
Officials in Prague 22 had been aware of the situation for many years and did nothing. It took a newly assigned Roma social worker and a new mayor in Prague 22 to finally deal with problem.
The story of the families living at Cihelna has a mixed ending. Due to the efforts of the newly assigned Roma social worker and the new government in Prague 22, all of the families were moved out of Cihelna. The building has been razed to the ground and the trash cleared. All that remains of where these families lived is an empty field.
Three of the families have returned to Slovakia and one remains in Prague 22.
There are efforts underway to improve the quality of life for Roma in Central Europe. Much of this slowly occurring change is due to pressure from the EU. The human rights and minorities rights situations of pre-EU membership countries has undergone great scrutiny. It remains an area where countries like the Czech Republic, and others in Central Europe, need to continue efforts to improve the lives of Roma and their integration into society.
Text and Photos: (c) Mark Wiedorn
Copyright © Radio Praha, 1996 - 2003