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Socially Disadvantaged Groups

Jileha - empowering Roma women in their communities

The Jileha project ("By Heart" in Romany) brings together Roma women from all over the Czech Republic and, through regular joint meetings and various activities, seeks to change their position within both their own family and community by strengthening their self-confidence. It gives them the opportunity to realize themselves, to be themselves, to find a way to express their hidden feelings, emotions, opinions, thoughts, desires, needs. To escape from petty stereotypes, the inertia of negative and silly wannabe traditions that are often killing them and make them slaves of their beloved ones. Roma women's groups operate in 12 cities of the Czech Republic.

we started on 2017-10-20
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Personal story - A Beautiful Journey to the Self

At the beginning of this project, each of us certainly had a definite vision about what to do in our local branch. The project was an idea that arose on the basis of the meetings of the Manushe Romani women’s group.
We want to offer the women from our localities a little bit of ourselves. That little piece gives them a different perspective on many aspects of life that they might not even know about yet. There are many things these women do not know, that they do not know how to name, that they cannot know, for various reasons, because they do not have access to basic, important information, they cannot experience or see many things for themselves. All of this, and much more. All that is in us, comes from the heart.
Jileha (“Through the heart”), by means of its activities creates room for these women to reveal who they are, to be themselves, to find their own way toward expressing their hidden desires, emotions, feelings, needs, opinions and thoughts. They manage to escape the malicious stereotypes that come from the persistence of negative, stupid, would-be traditions that beat us down and also makes us slaves to those whom we love.   
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I was once one of those women looking for the words with which to name the enormous emptiness that was growing in me from one day to the next. In all of the family happiness that came from that loving oppressor I was as lost as Alice in Wonderland, and the only bright light there was for me was my son.

Thanks to my belief that good exists, I got to know people who gave me a helping hand, who welcomed me among them, and who gave me a chance to reveal my deeply hidden self. As they say, “hope dies last”. Today I can say that all of the beautiful people in my life blazed a trail that is growing into a long road, not just for me, but also for those who want to walk it with me. As a member of Manushe and coordinator of the Jileha project, I say:  “Life belongs to all of us, so don’t deprive yourself of the beauty of a single fertile thought.”

Aurélia Balážová 
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