Eugene Hamill rides a bike for Roma children in Serbia

Eugene Hamill, founder of the charity organization from Ireland “Sporting Hearts” came to Serbia with the aim of crossing 1000 km in three days. He will visit Serbia and photograph the landscapes, with the goal of raising people’s awareness on improving the life quality of many children, especially Roma children, but also to raise funds for projects that will be implemented in Serbia, with the support of Roma Education Fund (REF).

The bicycle ride runs from July 19 to 21, when it ends at Ada Ciganlija, where a welcome ceremony will be held at 16 o’clock in the afternoon for completion of Eugene’s “mission”.

“I founded the organization “Sporting Hearts” in 2004 as a response to the economic and social crisis caused by sanctions and conflicts in Yugoslavia. So far, hundreds of refugee and Roma children have been taken to trips across Serbia, as part of our projects. We also supported a group of Roma children from Kotez in their education by enrolling them in faculties, providing them with scholarships, books, sports equipment and trips. Now, in co-operation with REF, I’m starting a 1000 km long bike ride to raise awareness on the work of our organization and to fundraise for our projects. Although this may seem like a small project to someone, when looking at a wider picture, it has the potential to open the doors of higher education and give a wider choice of careers. Because to these children it all looks like a distant dream, accessible only to the rich and privileged ones, and it should not be like that. I would like to thank REF for their support and encouragement from the very beginning of this mission”, Eugene Hamill stated this morning, when he began his journey from Kalemegdan.

The cooperation between “Sporting Hearts” and Roma Education Fund continues since 2007. About 100 scholarships for Roma children from Kotež neighborhood were provided; they were enrolled in faculties, supported in completing many courses for additional education, provided with textbooks, school supplies, clothing, shoes, but also many trips throughout Serbia. These are now traditional activities that take place each year, such as organization of two trips for children in July.

“It is our great pleasure to see Eugene Hamill in Belgrade today realizating his humanitarian mission. Roma Education Fund has successfully cooperated with Eugene’s organization “Sporting Hearts” for years and this bicycle tour through Serbia is just a new occasion for our joint action. We cooperate and support each other in activities and campaigns implementation, because we very often have common beneficiaries from Roma community. It is very important that support to children is the focus of this new Eugene’s project, and the goal of Roma Education Fund is to contribute to closing the gap between educational outcomes between Roma and non-Roma through implementation of different strategies and programs”, program manager of Roma Education Fund, Natasa Kocic-Rakocevic stated.