DRC Relief & Development Fund

The DRC Relief & Development Fund was established in 1998 to meet emergency, short-term food, clothing and medical needs in Dom communities. Every effort is made to administer these programs through Dom volunteers and community leaders. In conjunction with short-term efforts, long-term solutions are sought through the support of programs such as literacy training, health care classes, educational support programs for children and vocational training programs for older teenagers and adults. Below is a summary of some of the efforts in which the DRC has been involved. At times Dom leaders requested that their communities' situations not be publicized, or that only general information be distributed. In those cases only the individuals and organizations that provide relief funds receive details of the project.

Contribution Information
Donations to the DRC Relief & Development Fund are tax deductible for US tax payers.

Click here for a printable contribution form.

Project Reports

Literacy Training

Beginning in August 2006 contributions through the Dom Research Center supported Arabic literacy classes at the Gypsy Community Center in Jerusalem. This building houses the Domari Society, which is directed by Ms Amoun Sleem. The literacy classes that began in August 2006 are scheduled to continue through June 2007. The classes were held three times a week and divided into two proficiency levels; both of which were led by an experienced teacher. Previously (at the close of 2002 and beginning in May 2005), the DRC sponsored private Abrabic language literacy classes for Dom adults in the area. While the Domari Society has focused primarily on women and children, during the Winter of 2013 the Domari Society sought the assistance of the DRC with literacy training programs for Dom men. The DRC sponsored the initial classes for the men and is seeking sponsors to continue the program for the summer and fall of 2013.

The DRC has also sponsored literacy programs in other Middle Eastern countries where community leaders have requested that their situation remain anonymous. Such requests for privacy are reasonable. The programs are mentioned here in general in order to demonstrate the initiatives being carried out by Dom communities throughout the Middle East.

Vocational Training

On the Palestinian West Bank two short-term vocational training programs were begun in July 2002. Fifteen adult Dom enrolled in food preparation classes and another fifteen began cosmetology classes. The vocational programs were made possible by contibutions from the Jewish Joint Foundation and the Dom Research Center. A graduation ceremony was held in Jerusalem on September 30, 2002 at the Ambassador Hotel.

A second catering class was sponsored by DRC in May/June 2003. Instructors for the course were: Chef Ibrahim Abu Sier, Chef Joseph Asfour, Chef Nabil Aho, and Chef Yacoub Salbis.

Children's Educational Support Program

During 2003 contributions to the Dom Research Center were used to support a program to teach Dom children to read and write in Arabic. The goal of the classes was to begin the process of bringing the children up to level so that they might enter the public school system. A local teacher was utilized for the instruction and to advise with regard to appropriate curriculum.

Relief & Development Efforts

Sewing Machines for Dom Community in Gaza: Through the years the Dom Research Center has provided sewing machines to individuals in shantytowns and other disadvantaged Dom communities. The women who received the machines are now able to provide for their families. Some make alterations to clothing. Others make and sell curtains and table clothes, and other home accessories.

Building on the success of these individual efforts, during the summer of 2017 the DRC began raising funds for a community sewing center in Gaza. The second week of December 2017 funds were delivered to purchase three machines ($5,620) and a generator ($2,000) to power them. The generator is a must. Electricity in this area is limited to two hours a day. In addition to the machines, $320 was given to purchase some initial materials and supplies for the new Center. The machines will be available to the women of the community, as well as being used to teach other women sewing skills that will enable them to help their families.

In April 2009 the Domari Society and the Dom Research Center teamed up to assist Dom men in the Jerusalem area with employment opportunities. While Dom men are often discriminated against in the job market simply because they are Gypsies, young men who have struggled with drug addition discover that they are doubly stigmatized. The DRC has provided $2,000 (two thousand USD) to purchase “shopping stands” and household products to be sold in the outdoor market in the old city. Domari Society board members secured the work permits from the municipal government, and the director of the society is giving oversight to the project. The first two shopping stands are now in operation, and the Domari Society reports that the men are earning enough money to help support their families.

In 2006 the Roma community of Limassol, Cyprus was relocated by the Cypriot government from their delapidated homes in the old port district of the city to a somewhat isolated area north of the city. The new location is a "container village" (see photo to the right) where the Roma are out-of-sight. In November and December of 2006 the Dom Research Center assisted the community with needed clothing, furniture and appliances. Additionally, in December eighteen Roma families received packages of food to supplement their diet.

Relief measures and assistance with food, clothing and shelter were provided to a West Bank Dom community that was devastated by a flashflood in November of 2005. More recently (December 2006) this community was evicted from their cemetery home. The local Dom Research Center representative, a Dom himself, negotiated a 30 day grace period that gave the community a few weeks to find a new place to live. The Nablus municipality directed the community of 400 Dom to a piece of property where they could secure official permission to build their houses - these homes are tents and makeshift dwellings. The community appealed to the DRC for assistance; specifically, a grant of $6,600 to secure an 8 year occupancy permit from the municipality, and an additional $5,400 to help with relocation and materials for their homes. The DRC released $8,300 (USD) to the community and the residents began their relocation on December 9, 2006. In addition to securing the residence permits, $1,500 (USD) was used to construct toilet facilities on the new sight. Following the relocation, an investigation was launched to determine the skills of the people and the possibility of matching some small business development grants with those skills.

Emergency Food Relief for the Dom of Gaza, May 2004. Through donations to the DRC Relief Fund, basic food supplies were distributed to more than 5,500 Dom living in the Gaza Strip. The continued tensions in the area restrict the movement of the people and limit the possibility for them to carry-on their daily life and jobs. As a result, the limited supply of food reached a critical point necessitating the food relief effort.

On April 9, 2002, Domari: The Society of Gypsies in Israel and the Dom Research Center jointly carried out a food relief effort among the Dom of Jerusalem. Faced with a collapsing economy the Dom struggle to provide the most basic necessities for their families. Approximately 70 families received food packets at the Lion's Gate in the Old City and later another 20 packets were delivered to families on the West Bank. While long-term educational and vocational training efforts are in the early stages of planning and implementation, this food relief program assisted those who have been most dramatically impacted by the regional conflict and economic devastation.

A follow-up food distribution took place at the close of May 2002 that assisted 80 families. Rising prices restrict the number of families that can receive the food packets. Food packets include rice, olive oil, canned tuna, beans, flour, tea, salt, lentils, canned meat, and other items specific to the diet of the region.

The most recent food distributions in the community took place during in June and October 2002, September 2003, and then again in February and April 2004. Approximately 120 families were assisted with food items in each of these food relief efforts.

Since its inception the DRC Relief Fund has been utilized to purchase blankets and basic food items for Dom families on the West Bank, provide funds for a medical operation in Amman and distribution of food in tent villages in Jordan. In the last quarter of 2000 the DRC supported a food distribution program to twenty-nine single parent families in Jordan. All funds for past and future efforts are donated by concerned individuals, groups or organizations.

Medical Assistance

During the second quarter of 2004, numerous cases of tuberculosis were discovered among the Dom living in a refugee shantytown in Lebanon. Contributions to assist with the purchase of medications were sought and then delivered to the Children of Shatilla Project where Dr. Agnes Sanders is leading efforts to treat all those who are infected.

From 2005 through 2013 contributions to the DRC were used to provide medical care, including medications, to a Dom community living in Nablus. This effort began while the community was living in a cemetery near the city. In 2006 the medical assistance was expanded to include hospitalization for critical care needs.

Contact the Dom Research Center if you have questions about the projects listed on this site. to send us an e-mail with your questions or comments.


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