Zemina Vehabović – Kakanj: The first Roma women as the head of the local community council

Hana:

Her name is Zemina Vehabović, nicknamed Nuna. She is the president of the association Centre for Mothers ”Nada” Kakanj, which has been operating since 2010. She now also became the head of the local community council. She is proud of the fact that she is a Roma woman and that she was appointed to this position thanks to the persons that voted during the local community elections in large numbers and chose her. They have recognised the work she has done so far by helping Roma women and youth. Nuna has namely been helping Roma to obtain health insurance through the association for years. She also helps them exercise other rights they are entitled to, because many of them do not know what they are entitled to or how to achieve it.

What are the greatest problems of the Roma population in Kakanj?

The greatest problems now are education and health insurance related to children that do not go to school. Children over 11 that do not attend school, cannot have health insurance. Our goal is to include as many children as possible in the educational system in order for them to be entitled to health insurance. We encounter older children that do not wish to go back to the first grade, they are ashamed.

Children that are 15 years old have to register at the employment office in order to obtain health insurance. We help them in relation to documents, help them obtain personal identification cards and birth certificates in order for them to register. We do this on our own, without receiving any funds. I am trying to help them, so that they can copy and submit everything, because there are many illiterate Roma. Not just young persons, but also their parents that have not attended the school. I am not sure how their awareness should be raised. We are continuously talking about that – that school is important, and that without being able to rely on oneself, one is a nobody.

What is the greatest problem for them, why do they ”avoid” school?

As regards families that have five or six children and no employment – how can they send their children to school? That is the most serious problem. If one of the parents was employed, he or she could make sure that the children went to school Thanks to Romalen Kakanj, children that go to school have rucksacks and a meal. They managed to ensure this for the children throughout the year.

I think that we as parents have to do our best. It does not matter that I did not go to school, why should my child be deprived of it?

You organised cooperation with an association to enable women to get a medical check-up?

I did a project with Indira Bajramović, we entered into a partnership and we had a three-month project, which was very successful, there were many interested women. We did medical check-ups for 20 Roma women that had no medical insurance. They did a Papa test, gynaecological exam and breast ultrasound.

Are there still Roma women that have not done a medical check-up?

Yes, there are many of them and they are asking for it all the time.

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