International Initiative for Development for Ethnic Art

Workshop and concert at Martin Boos School at Gallneukirchen, Austria (2016)

A dancing and singing workshop in honour of the 20th anniversary of its foundation was held from May 10-12 at the Martin Boos School, Gallneukirchen, Austria.

On Thursday, during the anniversary celebrations, 120 children took part. They had learnt three Roma songs which were sung together by those present. The traditional Roma Čapáš dance was also performed.

The Martin Boos School is notable for its work in promoting the inclusion of children with mental and physical handicaps with other children. The school was attended during the commemorations by  60 handicapped and the same number of non-handicapped children. All of them, including the mentally and physically handicapped, took part in the workshops which were a moving experience for all concerned.

The workshops were led by Ida Kelarová and the creative and artistic team from MIRET, z. s. - Desiderius Dužda, Oto Bunda, Jan Dužda – and members of the Čhavorenge Choir - Vanesa, Boženka, Míša and Riky. It is amazing how these Roma children have developed their skills and with what attention they devoted to everything.  It would have been a challenge, even for adults, to handle such demanding workshops without giving them their full focus. And they performed to perfection. Thanks to such performances they can appreciate on their own how beautiful and rich their culture is.

All of us who took part in the workshops were moved and deeply touched by them. Sometimes we had the impression that the handicapped children got a lot more out of them than the others. Those who could sing, sang. Those who could not immediately reacted with joy to our music and songs.  Ida Kelarová admitted herself that she had never seen such expressions of joy or experienced them and her experience goes back more than 30 years.

What will the children from  Čhavorenge remember about the workshops?

Boženka: I was really moved because we saw love and joy. I felt that everyone there was with us.

Vanesa: When we first saw all the handicapped children, it was really emotional for me because of how they welcomed us.

Miška: It was really moving to see how much the handicapped children reacted. I realised how emotional it was for them and how their true feeling came through.

Riky: Of all of them, I was most touched by Jonas who was a deaf-mute and could not say a word. I taught him to say ‘Oto. Jonas was overjoyed to be able to do thatǃ I have never seen such joy.   

And what were Ida Kelarová’s impressions of the project?

All the children from the Martin Boos School, whether healthy or handicapped, took to the Roma music and songs and they could soon be heard throughout the entire school. Living Roma culture was on display everywhere, and in such difficult conditions.

The biggest impression made on me was the fact that this inclusion worked and that people strove that children grow up together.  There was a lot of emphasis on inclusive education.  At home such inclusiveness with regard to Roma children is still just talked about. Roma children though are just as excluded from schools as are children with handicaps instead of growing up and learning together.  It brought back to me the situation that we have here.

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