The Multicultural Centre “Narajan” was founded in 2000, in order to affirm and emancipate the Roma population in the fields of the public, political, social, educational, cultural and information work, the research in the field of Roma language, literature, history, and oral traditions. The association is non-partisan, non-governmental and non-profit. We cooperate with universities, professional associations, ministries, Serbian Academy of Science and Arts and other organisations in the country and abroad which implement scientific, expert and research projects in the fields of education and culture of Romas, asserting their human rights, preserving their identity, history, language and culture.

The Centre was named after the myth about the creation of the world from Indian mythology. According to it, the creator of the world is Brahma, also known as Narayana, which means ‘creation’ and ‘new birth’, as well as ‘rebirth’.

The Projects We Realised

The first project “The Problem and Possibilities of Education of Roma Children” (2000) aimed at the pre-school preparation of Roma children for learning in primary school. The work with the children lasted for 6 months in Presevo Kindergarten. The results achieved in the work with the children drew attention to the importance of the preparation of Roma children for primary school, and the need to continue working on it. Unfortunately, we did not have the understanding of the local authorities, which did not support our request to continue with the activities in the Kindergarten. The implementation of the project was continued in the private premises. The project was implemented in cooperation with UMCOR.

Then, we realised the project “Compensatory Programme in Serbian and Maths in Higher Grades of Primary School” for Roma children in 2001. The compensatory programme was implemented with younger school children, too, in all subjects in which they did not have a good performance. The subjects were taught in the mother tongue of the children. The project was successful, which is evident, as no Roma child had to repeat the grade, which had often been the case earlier. This project was supported by the Dutch Embassy, whose partner was the Centre for Interactive Pedagogy (CIP).

Our Centre organised “The Gathering of Roma Writers – Reconciliation” in Vranje, in 2002. The issues of the standardisation of Roma language and the contribution of the Roma writers and poets to it were discussed during this event. The idea was to restart the discussion on the issue of standardisation, on one hand, and, on the other, to show the creative work of individuals in Roma language. Prof Dr Svenka Savic also participated in the event, which was supported by Fund for an Open Society.

After the successful gathering, the work on the book “Reconciliation” ensued. It deals with the standardisation of Roma language. The book was published in Roma and Serbian in 2003, with the support of Fund for an Open Society.

“Narajan” takes part in the implementation of the project “Places of Cult and the Culture of Death”, which consists of the research in Southeastern Serbia. The Head of the Research Team is Prof Dr Dragoljub Djordjevic from Nis. The project lasts for three years. Our coordinator Ibrahim Osmani is in charge of the research in Jablanicki and Pcinjski Counties. As part of the project, round tables have been held, and the books with the research material published in Serbian, Roma and English.

At the moment, we are implementing the project of pre-school preparation of Roma children for the inclusion in the school system. The aim is to teach the children the language of instruction (Serbian), which will enable them to attend the school without problems and successfully. The children who attended the preparation successfully continued with the education, and did not repeat the grades. The project has been realised since 2003 in cooperation with Italian Consortium of Solidarity, an implementing partner of UNHCR.