by Emil Metodiev
Jelena Reljic is from Pukovac, a small village located in the Doljevac municipality of Serbia. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and is one of the co-founders of the Opre Roma Srbija movement.
“When I was little, I was proud to be Roma because my grandmother always talked about why we are unique. She was always singing and very happy to be Roma. Growing up, I also discovered the historical reasons for being a proud Roma. Despite the history of pain and suffering our community has endured, we Roma still haven’t changed our Roma names, still know our language and are still here after all the wars and crises. This makes me a proud Roma and inspires me to pass this sentiment on to future generations.”
Jelena is one of the founders of Opre Roma Srbija. She has been part of the movement since its launch in 2019, first as a researcher and now as a leading grassroots activist.
“At the beginning, I was conducting research among the Roma community. Then I realized that I didn’t have many connections with the community. I wasn’t truly talking to anyone except online and with a laptop and papers. Then I started to get involved in grassroots organizing and became the leader of the grassroots team in Serbia. As a grassroots leader myself, my task is to work together with other local grassroots leaders.”
“When the idea of developing a movement came up, just the word ‘movement’ inspired me. I wanted to be in a movement, not in an NGO. The word made me realize how important it was to have a Roma movement. People have power, as do Roma. We just need to unify our voices. It makes perfect sense to me, and here I am now.”
Join the movement!
Opre Roma Srbija
mission: The movement Opre Roma Srbija was founded in 2019 as a response to the challenges of social inequality faced by the Roma community in Serbia. The movement consists of Roma from all parts of Serbia, and people who are not of Roma origin but are allies to the Roma community in Serbia. The ORS motto is: “Good for the Roma, good for Serbia” and everyone who believes and supports the idea that the progress of the Roma community means the progress of Serbia is welcome in their movement. The movement does not belong to any political party and it is part of a transnational network of Roma movements working towards Roma civic participation in political life across Europe.
how to get involved: Become member by filling out the application form here: https://bit.ly/3ryrQrc
The Proud Roma Movements is a collaboration between the European Roma Institute for Arts and Culture – ERIAC and its member Emil Metodiev, sponsored by the International Press Institute (IPI) as part of the NewsSpectrum fellowship.