90 | Niš, 1976, I’mqueuing for bread ina bakery.AlittleRomagirl isstanding in line in front ofme. Shewaitspatiently andcourteously.Whenher turn comes, the woman behind the counter passes her by, ignoring her as if she weren’t there. She’s a child and is still waiting. When my turn comes, I ask theworker why she’s ignoring the girl, and she spews a salvo of insults at the expense of that innocent child. I reactedandprotectedthegirl, andpromised myself that Iwoulddomybest tochange the image of the Roma people – says Ana Saćipović, founder of theOsvit RomaAssociation in Niš, recalling her rst encounter with discrimination. Today,decadeslater,shehasdonealotfor herpeople.This isalsocon rmedbythisyear’s awardthatshereceivedfromtheCouncilofEurope for the Integrationof Roma in theWestern Balkans andTurkey. She was proclaimed one of the most successful Roma women in Europeandexperiencedtheapplauseof 150 European parliamentarians. “The position of Romawomen in Serbia is still di cult today, but what I’mproud of is thefact thatwe’vesucceededinmotivatinga largenumberof Romagirlsandyoungwomen to get educated.When she is educated, a womangainscon dence,canmoreeasily nd a job and thus becomes economically independent fromman.Thishasn’t been thecase todateintheRomacommunity,”explainsSaćipović, as we stroll around Niš and she shows us the building of the Roma Cultural Centre, whichshedeserves themost credit for.This is the rst institution of its kind in Serbia. She also reveals that educated Roma women without work are perhaps in the toughest situation. They have raised themselves above their environment through education and are not accepted in their Roma neighbourhood,whileontheotherhandthey arediscriminatedagainst by thecommunity, whichisfullofprejudicesregardingtheRoma. “That’s when I step onto the scene and help everywomanwho asksme for help. According to the Constitution, every local government shouldhaveaproportionalnumber ofemployeesinstateinstitutionsofallnational minorities, andnot just Roma,”saysAna, who is also a trained journalist. Itwas due toher journalismstudies that shecametoNišfromhernativeAleksinac,and although she became pregnant while at college,shestillmanaged–withthehelpandsupport of her family – to complete her studies. As she is rising above her community today throughherexampleandwork,soherparents oncestoodout in littleAleksinac. Hermother was the rst woman in the town to have her own craft workshop open in her own name back in the 1960s. “Myparentshadahighlevelofawareness of the importance of education in building a better life. They passed that on to me, and I passed it on tomy own children. And so, just as I became pregnant during my studies, so didmydaughter-in-law. Butweall supported her incontinuingwithcollege,babysatwhen needed, and shewill soonbe the rst female Roma judge in Serbia,”notes Ana with pride. As wewalk towards the famous Niš Fortress, a symbol of the city, we pass through an underpass in the city centre. As we walk, individual fellow citizens greet her cordially, hugher, thankher forherhelp,because itwas back in2005 inNiš thatAna launchedanSOS hotline to assist womenwhowere victims of domestic violence, in the Roma and Serbian languages. That was also the rst such SOS hotline in Europe, which is still available to women every day. “That’s the reason they applauded me at the Council of Europe when they handed me the award. Through our SOS hotline, we helpwomen,regardlessoftheirnationality,because a victim is a victim. It is interesting that we receive the most calls during weekends and holidays, when families are gathered together, and the least during the summer period”, reveals this brave woman. As we sit in the Tavern at Rajko’s inTinkers Alley, a preserved part of the old Niš bazaar,Anatellsus that thereusedtobe13tinkers workshops there. She often comes here with her family to feel the spirit and scent of Kalča and Sremac, and at the end, as we bid farewell, she admits to us what lls her with pride themost. “Oneday therewill benoAnaSaćipović, but there will be my four grandchildren, future Osvit activists , and all other Roma girls and young women who are slowly changing their attitudes and resisting the Roma community. They are not ashamed of tradition, but they want to work on themselves andchangeeverythingthat isnegativeabout it, such as early Roma marriages. I’m happy to see how they are thinking today and I’m not afraid for the future.” – Moji roditelji su imali visok nivo svesti o važnosti obrazovanja u izgradnji boljeg života. Preneli su to na mene, a ja na svoju decu. I eto, kao što sam ja na studijama ostala u drugom stanju, to se dogodilo i mojoj snaji. Ali svi smo je podržali danastavi sa fakultetom, čuvali dete kad je trebalo i ona će uskoro biti prva žena sudija Romkinja u Srbiji – ponosno ističe Ana. NaputudočuveneNiške tvrđave, simbolagrada, prolazimokrozpodzemniprolazucentru.Dokšetamo, pojedine sugrađanke srdačno joj se javljaju, grle je, zahvaljuju joj se na pomoći jer jeAna još 2005. uNišu pokrenula SOS telefon za pomoć ženama žrtvama nasilja u porodici na romskom i srpskom jeziku. To je i u Evropi bio prvi takav SOS telefon, koji je i danas dostupan ženama svakog dana. – U Savetu Evrope su mi zbog toga aplaudirali kad su mi uručivali nagradu. Putemnašeg SOS telefona pomažemo ženamabez obzirananacionalnupripadnost, jer žrtva je žrtva – kaže ova hrabra Nišlijka. Dok sedimo u Kafani Kod Rajka u Kazandžijskom sokačetu, očuvanom delu stare niške čaršije, Ana nampriča da se tunekadnalazilo 13 kazandžijskih radionica. Često tudođe sa porodicom kako bi osetili duh i miris vremena Kalče i Sremca... – JednogdanaAneSaćipovićneće biti, ali biće tu moje četiri unuke, budućeaktivistkinjeOsvita, i svedrugemlade romske devojčice i devojke koje polako menjaju svoje stavove i pružajuotpor romskoj zajednici. One se ne stide tradicije, ali žele da rade na sebi i da promene sve ono što je u njoj negativno, kao što su rani romski brakovi. Srećna sam kad vidim kako već danas razmišljaju i za budućnost se ne bojim. Ana još 2005. u Nišu pokrenula SOS telefon za pomoć ženama žrtvama nasilja u porodici na romskom i srpskom jeziku It was in 2005 in Niš that Ana launched an SOS hotline to assist women who were victims of domestic violence, in the Roma and Serbian languages