Since 2005, Mária Nazarej is working with Roma people right in their settlements as a medical assistant. She lives in Kapušany, ten kilometres from Prešov. In 2010 she became laureate of the Gypsy Spirit award for Act of the year. This job was offered to her by mayor, because he thought it is just right for her. Years proved, that he was right. Social work – health issues – Roma issues – Maria Nazarej, former head of tailor´s workshop, found herself in all of this.
„This job is not for everyone. I don´t want to say, that I´m better than other people. But you have to believe in this job, you have to believe in it with your heart. It is more, than just meeting people. Medical assistant is devoted to health. We help people by actually visiting their settlements. When you see mother of ten children, who have nothing to eat, you don´t give her medicine, you don´t measure her pressure, you have to help her other way. It is about willingness, charity, it is work emerging from the heart. One must keep open eyes and see, what is happening around,“ Mária Nazarej speaks about her mission.
The beginnings were not easy. But according to her, Roma gladly welcome something new, something that will push them forward, something that has meaning. Because of this, they accept medical assistants. It is like with people in general – some have interest, some don´t, others actively participate.
„I started in settlement, where I didn´t know anyone and nobody knew me. They thought, that I´m some kind of control. They ran away from me to hide. However, it is completely different now. Relations between us have changed. I would compare some of them to relations in a family. I come to the settlement and a little boy is shouting: “Mom, mom, your sister came!“ Many of them are close to me, for their honesty. They tell you everything, they confides,“ medical assistant speaks of her experiences.
After all these year, she never got used to the sad environment. People live there like „they want to, but they can ´t…“ and one still has an unanswered question, how to help them. However, Maria Nazarej likes to speak more about the bright side of the work. „Contact with another human is great. You get very close to them, eventually you earn their trust and they will start to tell you everything, about the pain in their back, but also about their feelings, sufferings and desires. Roma will open their heart for you and talk about everything. And than you realize, that your work really means something.”
In 2010, Maria Nazarej received the Gypsy Spirit award. She is still proud of this appraisal of her work. Back then, little Sandra was abandoned and so she has to go to orphanage. Mária Nazarej learned about this, and she started to look for her relatives. She found Sandra´s grandparents, contacted them and eventually they took their granddaughter and now they live like a family. „I visit them constantly, I see how happy she is, how she grows up. That´s my story, which I´m proud of. “
Interview with Mária Nazarej