The Rainbow House is a small day centre which has the capacity to receive up to 25 children a day. We decided to open this centre in 2016 after witnessing the extreme deprivation Roma children are exposed to at the Roma slum where they live.
The Rainbow House is a safe haven for these children, a place where they can recover from experiences of neglect, abuse and trauma. Here their needs are met and children are encouraged to discover their potential. The Rainbow House is loved by all children – it has become their life-line and place of respite.
Olga Kalusi, our Rainbow House manager, explains its function like this:
“The Rainbow House is like my second home. It is not a kindergarten or school. For the children and myself the Rainbow House means family”
Olga Kalusi –
Rainbow House Manager
Children who live at the local Roma slum were born into a place of extreme deprivation. Life here is unimaginably hard and without support from the outside these children and families will remain in this state of despair without hope for a better future.
The Roma people are the largest and most discriminated ethnic minority group in Europe.
Around 95 percent of people living here are unemployed and everyone lives well below the poverty line. There is no sanitary system and no rubbish collection. Many families do not have enough to eat and suffer from chronic hunger; they search through the rubbish for food.
Denied fair and equal access to employment, housing, health and education leaves these children and families caught in a vicious cycle of poverty and social stigmatization which keeps them excluded from mainstream society (Harvard Political Review, 2015).
This cycle of poverty and deprivation has been passed on for many generations, leaving parents unequipped to meet the needs of their children. Many have lost hope and merely try to survive each day.
We believe that there is hope. With the right support, especially in their education, these children can be the generation that escapes this cycle of poverty.
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The aim of The Rainbow House is to break generational circles of poverty by offering children education, guidance, love and care. We want the children to understand that if they learn and apply their skills a different, more promising future can be realised.
Meal times are the most popular times. The children immensely enjoy the lovingly made food, sitting together and simply sharing about their day. Many children have never received a lovingly made meal at home; nor have they sat at a table or held cutlery before. For this reason, we spend much time in the kitchen.
Having basic hygiene needs met is a new experience for the children. None of them has a bathroom at home and they rarely wash. Most of them never had a proper wash in their lives. Our staff lovingly takes care of the children. They are able to shower, give lice or flea treatment, cut their nails and exchange their dirty clothes for clean ones.
At the Rainbow House the children learn how to play because they don’t have toys or a safe play space at home. Playing in a safe and free environment is a new experience that stimulates their creativity and encourages emotional and cognitive healing. The children love the variety of toys and the playground in the garden.
We have enrolled all children into schools or kindergartens at the relevant ages, however due to their difficult start in life many children are delayed and have learning difficulties. As well as providing a place to do homework, the Rainbow House is somewhere the children can receive extra support to catch up on lost learning. The staff also works together with schools and kindergartens to help integrate the children into mainstream education and ensure that they receive all they are entitled to.
Some Rainbow House children are particularly vulnerable and have learning difficulties, disabilities or/and health problems. We give these children additional support, advocate for them and provide access to health services. We ensure that children are seen by medical specialists and receive adequate support from the local authority and schools.
Children who come to the Rainbow House also receive support at home. They are visited regularly at home and we work closely together with their parents.More Information
Amanda* and Alex* are two siblings who have come from a particularly difficult home. Both children experienced homelessness from a very young age. The parents were unable to provide the children with the most basic care such as sufficient food, shelter, emotional warmth and safety.
*Names have been changed
When Amanda* and Alex first began coming to the Rainbow House they had survived abuse and extreme neglect. As a result, both children were very withdrawn and scared. After a few months at the Rainbow House they began to feel safe under the careful and loving support of our staff. The children began to smile, laugh, talk and play freely.
To ensure improvement to Amanda’s* and Alex’s* lives we also began working with their parents. We noticed that their mother had lived through extremely traumatic events herself and we began offering her unconditional and loving support. Subsequently, a strong relationship of trust and respect was built.
After some time, we were able to provide the family with a room, away from the slum. This was a crucial turning point that enabled the mother to take better care of her children. Their relationship rapidly changed, with her parenting abilities immensely improving.
Today, the children feel close to both their mother and father. They are loved and well looked after. Their father is an active member of the family, he goes to work and provides. Both children continue to come to the Rainbow House and have a monthly sponsor.
An important part of our work is breaking the cycle of poverty through education. For this we have put programs in place such as our Lighthouses and …Donate now