When will you come back again, Miss?

At the Ladies’ Union of Drama – House of Open Hospitality (LUD – HOH), we believe that no child should be excluded from the school community, no matter for what reason, as the right to education is a fundamental one.

Unfortunately, however, this does not apply to an appallingly large number of Roma children. According to European Union data for 2016, 92% of Roma children in Greece tend to drop out of school at a very young age.

With a vision to minimize this phenomenon, in 2017 we launched our interventions, using as our main tool MobileSchool, a patented product of the Belgian organisation of the same name. MobileSchool is a wheeled construction, consisting of folding blackboards with a total span of 6 meters (when fully unfolded) and weighing 150 kilos. It also carries educational panels by subject (e.g., arithmetic, grammar, geography) as well as discussion panels on various topics (e.g., personal hygiene, diversity, school bullying).

The launch of the project “MobileSchool Travels” under the Active Citizens Fund program, with LOD – HOH as the project promoter and Bodossaki Foundation, jointly with SolidarityNow, as joint Fund Operator, gave wings to our vision, enabling it to fly beyond the Prefecture of Drama, to also reach Kavala and Xanthi.

In all the places where MobileSchool makes a stop to generously offer knowledge, the love that we receive from the Roma children defies description. It is seen in the beaming smile of Yelis, a young Romani girl from the camp of Kalambaki in Drama, who has stolen our hearts and is gradually becoming a unique artist, as she has found fertile ground for unfolding her talent in painting.

“When will you come back again, Miss?” she asks. A question ripe with things unsaid… The hunger for learning, the satisfaction for what the children have achieved in the short time the mobile school was there, the pleasure for the activity they experienced, but also the anticipation of every next meeting.

The one and only Konstantinos, from the Ampelokipi camp in Drama, is the king of mischief, teasing and laughter, but also of asking questions about the lessons.

“Shall I draw you a picture?” he asks, and he fills the sheet of paper with hearts and suns, seas and flowers!

At one of MobileSchool’s next stops, Sebiha from Xanthi writes on the blackboard “Love you Miss”. She misspells nearly all the words, yet this cannot hide the love hidden in them, which can fit the whole world!

And how can we bring ourselves to wipe this phrase off MobileSchool’s blackboards to prepare for the next intervention?

You see, Tasim is waiting for us at Piges in Kavala, which means that we will have to “load” MobileSchool with mathematics. Yes, Tasim may not wear matching shoes, but he knows his multiplication tables backwards and forwards. He wants to be a merchant! Why not indeed, seeing that he’s sharp as a needle in mathematics?

From all these phrases, from all the drawings, the teasing and the mischief, we draw the strength to continue, despite the adverse conditions.

So, yes. We’re back on the road! Because we want to hear these words, time after time:

“When will you come back again?”