Roma communities can be found all over Europe, and are often the targets of prejudice and discrimination. Romania is the country with the highest concentration of Roma in the world, possibly as many as 20% of the population. An ethnic group that originated in India, and for centuries lived in Romania as slaves, the Roma cannot be categorized with sweeping generalizations. Some wear colorful traditional clothing and have become wealthy through trading and following centuries-old occupations; many live on the fringes of society in substandard housing, their family life characterized by low levels of education, chronic unemployment, poor health, alcohol abuse and domestic violence; some are barely recognizable as they have integrated into the broader society.
The majority of the children and adolescents who come to Veritas programs are poor marginalized Roma. Following a holistic approach that addresses material, social, educational and spiritual needs, and by trying to engage parents in supporting their children’s development, Veritas staff hope to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty and dependence and help the Roma young people understand their worth as children of God, develop their unique potential, and hope in a better future.