• Elpida

    The Roma Women’s Association of Drosero

The Settlement

Drosero is one of the largest and oldest Romani settlements in Greece. It is located in the northern district of Thrace, on the outskirts of the town of Xanthi, approximately 1,5 km from the town center, in an area that used to be  farmland. Today, it is estimated that the population counts about 7,500 inhabitants. The inhabitants of Drosero are employed in seasonal agricultural jobs and many of them are itinerant peddlers. Drosero is considered a small ghetto with many problems. The settlement is plagued by unemployment, illiteracy and domestic violence, dependency on welfare benefits, teen marriages and many of its children are unregistered.

The Establishment of Elpida

The Roma Women’s Association of Drosero, which is called ‘Elpida’ [Hope], is a non-governmental organization, founded in August of 2006 on the initiative of 20 Roma women. Their desire and need was to create an institution, through which they could be represented as Roma, claim their rights, and exercise their obligations within Greek society.
Elpida’s premises in Drosero function as a versatile cultural center. Teaching and activities for various age groups take place at the center, and it serves as a meeting place, where residents can express themselves freely, particularly the women and children of Drosero. The steady work of Elpida, over the course of ten years and counting, has caught the interest of many organizations and institutions, national and international, that have supported it and and rewarded it. Elpida is notable for being an NGO run by the community it serves and is the most widely recognized Roma Association in Greece. Elpida actively promotes, in all areas and at all levels of public administration, the interests and the integration of the Roma in Greece, with a special focus on Roma women.

Founding Members

The women who founded Elpida are: Sabiha Souleiman, Sali Oglu Mourtzan, Ramandan Oglu Songlul, Mamut Kimparie, Sakir Oglu Fikrie, Ahmet Oglu Ayşe, Sali Oglu Bahar, Abentin Oglu Beida, Sefket Kimparie, Sali Oglu Aibitchel, Serif Oglu Tsimen, Halil Oglu Fatme, Toshun Oglu Nurten, Kiazim Oglu Resmegul, Souleiman Natzie, Toshun Oglu Meliha, Ramandan Oglu Binaz, Triantafulidou Cadrie, Mumin Oglu Zekie, Souleiman Atie, Hasan Oglu Vistan, Nazif Oglu Kimparie, Merzan Oglu Fatme. The president of Elpida is Sabiha Souleiman.


Elpida’s activities aim to:

Empower the women of the community and to support their role in their families and the community

Provide different forms of education and learning opportunities to Drosero’s children and adults

Carry out creative activities for children

Create opportunities for a better future for the children of Drosero through the acquisition of necessary skills and know-how

Enhance community members’ ability to assert their right to better living conditions

Fight adult illiteracy

Disseminate information and try to curtail problems related to the health of the residents, to domestic violence, to lack of civil registration, to social benefits, etc., and to promote social integration in general

Appeal to relevant public services for the improvement of the infrastructure facilities in the area

Cooperate with other organizations, which share Elpida’s vision, in order to achieve the goals of the association

Collaborate with international organizations, with foundations and national and foreign agencies, which are active in the area of defense of human rights.



The core activities of Elpida are primarily aimed at the children and women of the community. The purpose of the activities is twofold: to provide the tools for a better future and foster better integration within Greek society. For the very young, there is the flagship nursery school. School-aged children are served by remedial lessons, extracurricular activities and cultural programs. Adult women are offered lessons in Greek as well as vocational training. In addition, Elpida provides various social and health services.

Nursery Center of Creative Work  

Roma NGO Elpida of Drosero cultural center and preschool

Children, teachers and volunteers outside Elpida’s cultural center and preschool in Drosero.

Drosero operates an elementary school within the settlement. However, not all pre-school and school-aged children are enrolled or follow the educational program, as the drop-out rate is great. In response to this problem, the members of Elpida undertook a pioneering initiative: to create a nursery center where young children would learn to become familiar with a school routine, to love school instead of fearing it, as well as to start communicating and writing in the Greek language. The nursery center for basic schooling and creative work was the initial initiative of the association. The number of children who attend the center every day ranges from 30 to 40. The children who attend the pre-school center are 3-5 years old.

Apart from the two trained teachers, who are responsible for the children’s educational program, two women of the association contribute to the overall functioning of the nursery center as mediators. As the majority of young children speak Romani and do not speak or understand Greek, the mediators play a very important role in facilitating the children’s communication with the teachers. The nursery center starts at 8:30 and closes at 3:30. Teachers and social workers perform other duties as well. For example, they are responsible for carrying out the children’s vaccination.

Remedial Courses for Students

Roma NGO Elpida, remedial courses

Helping children of the community to master Greek, a key to school success.

Students of Drosero have difficulty coping with the school’s demands for after school preparation for various reasons, the most important being that at home there is no one who can help them study. Thus, Elpida offers tutoring classes to these students. Tutoring classes are set up depending on students’ needs, while Greek language lessons, mathematics and English are also taught at Elpida’s tutorials.

Moreover, Ms. Souleiman established contact with representatives of the Ministry of Education in order to implement, in the schools of Drosero, the national school food program for vulnerable communities. However, the implementation of the food program and the promotion of healthy eating in the schools of Drosero were achieved through the funding offered to Elpida by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.

Social Services  

Two social workers are employed by Elpida in order to ‘bring back’ children who have dropped out of school. In the two years that this initiative has been implemented, the number of children registered in school increased by 200. The social workers, by gaining the trust of the community, managed to motivate both children and parents to participate in formal education.

Extracurricular Activities

Roma NGO Elpida, programs for children

Chess is serious business and one of the extra-curricular activities offered to children of the community.

Elpida, in order to reward student’s efforts and to contribute to their socialization outside of the village, and thus their integration with the non-Roma local community, organizes different types of extracurricular activities. For example, it organizes theatre performances for children, Romani traditional music concerts, photo exhibitions of works created by the children of Drosero, etc. All these activities are carried out outside the settlement and are often part of the “old town of the city of Xanthi” festivals.

Roma NGO Elpida, programs for children

Excursion with the children to the ancient theatre of Philippi.

Moreover, Elpida organizes children’s visits, e.g. to Equestrian, to the city of Komotini to take part in the music festival, to the ancient theatre of Philippi, to the Lazarist Monastery in Thessaloniki, etc. A notable activity was a presentation of the story of the Roma as an experiential story telling, organized, written and performed by the children of Drosero. It was performed at both Thessaloniki and Athens, and Elpida has received invitations to have this performance done abroad as well.

Other activities, such as planting trees in the square of Drosero, involve the children in volunteering and participating in communal activities.

The association furthermore facilitates that the children of Drosero be included in public summer camp programs, whereby they have the chance to go to the beach, often for the first time in their lives.

Training for Women

Roma NGO Elpida, vocational training

Women from the community receive vocational training.

In addition to children’s education, tutoring and training, Elpida also provides learning opportunities for its adult members. Right from the start of its operation, the association organized Greek language lessons for adults. After five months of intensive daily lessons, 10-12 women members of the association took the national exams in order to acquire primary school certificates. Presently, up to 15-20 women participate twice a week in the Greek language lessons offered at the association’s premises. Since 2006, about 120 women of different ages participated in classes for hairdressing, sewing, cooking and pastry making. Some of them managed to generate income based on their new skills. All these activities are intended to increase the knowledge and the skills of the participants, while preserving and promoting pride in their Romani culture.


Roma NGO Elpida, medical care

Medical examinations at the center, thanks to volunteers from Mission Anthropos.

Based on the actions that the association took, children were able to be medically examined by a team of volunteer doctors of IASO (Medical Centre). 120 children were examined with the support of Xanthi’s Hospital Manager, Mr. Babalidis Anastasis. On Elpida’s premises a seminar was conducted on the issue of access to public medical services, as well as on women’s challenges in starting a business. Furthermore, Mission Anthropos has visited our association to provide medical examinations for both children and adults.

Future Activities 

As time passes, Elpida’s membership grows. Simultaneously the ideas for initiatives and programs to improve the lives of the residents also increase. The members of Elpida organize daily meetings where they make decisions about how best to achieve their goals.



Elpida has been able to provide services to the Roma community in Drosero, due to the funding and the generous donations that it has received. The financing of the association’s activities has been achieved to date with the financial support of private and public institutions and with financing from European projects. The volunteer assistance and donations of educational material have undoubtedly contributed to the association’s work. Several activities have been implemented with cooperation of local organizations that provided space for seminars, events, health visits, etc.


The Hellenic Ministry of Foreign Affairs substantially supported Elpida in its founding, during the years 2006-2008. This support was part of a wider policy program to promote the empowerment of Romani communities in Thrace and was completed in 2008.

Non-governmental organizations, such as Antirropon, the Thessaloniki-based Institute for Balkan Studies, the Médecins du Monde and the Thessaloniki annex of UNESCO have provided assistance to Elpida.

International organizations, i.e. the Council of Europe (2010) and the European Commission (forthcoming) also support the work of Elpida.

Foreign diplomatic missions: the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Athens has provided considerable assistance to the association though the implementation of specific programs.

Local non-governmental organizations, whose mission has an emphasis on culture preservation, have also assisted Elpida in various ways: The Foundation of Thracian Art and Tradition, for example, did not provide funding but offered cooperation for the execution of activities that took place on its premises, while the Filoproodi Enosi Xanthis (Progressive Union of Xanthi), offered cooperation for a photography exhibition. The exhibition, based on a project initiated by Elpida, was hosted on the premises of the Filoproodi Enosi Xanthis.

Regional/local governmental organizations (usually EU programmes), such as NELE and Centres for Adult Learning (Greek language lessons) have cooperated with Elpida for program implementation at Drosero.

Private Donors: Generous donations in kind, such as office furniture and carnival costumes, and funds have been offered by Dr. Vassilis Kontopoulos.

Public-benefit foundations: The Stavros Niarchos Foundation and the Bodossaki Foundation have been strong supporters.

  • 2008: Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance. Actions supporting employment with the cooperation of NGOs.
  • 2009-2010: Embassy of the Netherlands. Support for teaching support of students of primary, secondary, and high school.
Roma NGO Elpida, programs for children

Art and creativity are actively fostered at the Elpida center.

2009-2010: Mr. Minas Efraimoglou & European Council for the operation of educational and creative activities in the settlement.

  • 2010-2011: Bodossaki Foundation for the operation of educational and creative activities in the settlement.
  • 2011-2012: Stavros Niarchos Foundation for the operation of educational and creative activities in the settlement.
  • 2012-2013: Stavros Niarchos Foundation for the operation of educational and creative activities in the settlement.
  • 2015-2016: EEA Grants Program «Είμαστε όλοι πολίτες» ‘We are all Citizens’, funding Bodossaki Foundation.
  • Solidarity Now (Αλληλεγγύη): The foundation Solidarity Now, from 2013 until today, has financially supported 40 organisations of civil society, public institutions and other initiatives with grants exceeding EUR 14 million to implement 68 projects. Also, in 2016, Elpida was included in these grants, in order to cover some activities.
  • 2016-2017: Stavros Niarchos Foundation for the operation of educational and creative activities in the settlement.
  • In April 2017 the Founder and Honorary President of the Citizens’ Movement for an Open Society – Member and Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors Of TITAN CEMENTS, Mr. Theodore Papalexopoulos, offered a significant donation to our Association upon request, in order to ensure the food of the children aged 3 to 5 that attend the “Preschool Learning Center”, which operates in our Association thanks to the grants of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation and the non-profit organization “Solidarity Now”.


Volunteering is an intrinsic element in the operational culture and the running of Elpida activities. For this reason the volunteer contribution to Elpida has been of critical importance, particularly for the strategic and day-by-day management of its operation. The ability of Elpida to act strategically and to have the outcomes that it has, for the benefit of the local community, is largely the result of the work of volunteers.

Networking, Synergies and Collaborations

Elpida has actively pursued the creation of a network of organizations and other stakeholders around it in order to facilitate its aims. It views this network as an opportunity to create synergies and collaborations in terms of funding and maximization of impact for its activities. Through networking, Elpida attempts to attract new funds and volunteers, raise awareness, advocate and facilitate its role as a bridge between the Romani community of Drosero and the rest of the society at local, regional, national and international levels. As the list of donors above reflects, Elpida has developed cooperation with NGOs in Greece and abroad, local and central government agencies, foreign diplomatic missions, such as the Dutch Embassy in Athens and the French Consulate General in Thessaloniki , international organizations, such as the Council of Europe public benefit foundations. Academics in Greece and abroad as well as other individuals equally assist the work of Elpida.

Elpida welcomes and informs official visitors, such as Greek MPs, foreign diplomats and representatives of international organizations. Towards this end, the President of Elpida, Ms. Sabiha Souleiman, holds regular meetings with representatives of all domestic and foreign representatives of bodies and agencies that are interested and willing to assist it in carrying out its aims, including the US Consulate General in Thessaloniki, the US Embassy in Athens, as well as other diplomatic missions. In a context of acute socio-economic Roma exclusion and illiteracy, networking has been particularly beneficial for Elpida. The recent selection for funding by the European Commission of a project on Life-Long Learning, for which Elpida joined forces with NGOs across several EU countries, is an illustration of the recognition of the capacity and of the work Elpida performs.



Elpida has recently decided to actively look for ways to increase the economic sustainability of its projects according to its priorities as delineated in its strategic plan. It has successfully attempted and continues to attempt to diversify its funding sources (see section on donors) and increase funding in order to match it with the community needs. Moreover, it is currently working on a business plan on how to raise its own funds through the production and sale of products, such as candles, baskets, etc. These products are either traditionally produced by the Drosero Romani community, or they are produced by the members of Elpida who in the past were trained on how to produce them.

A number of challenges are associated with social sustainability in the case of Elpida:

1. In order to recruit remunerated personnel and, especially, volunteers, Elpida needs to make the average Greeks overcome the negative and stereotypical image they have of the Roma. In dealing with this, Elpida attempts to raise awareness regarding the Drosero community and the rights of the Roma in Greece.

2. There is a greater difficulty with creating economies of scale because Drosero is an irregular/illegal settlement. The fact that Drosero, for decades after its establishment, remains outside the town plan of Xanthi results in greater costs for connecting to networks, such as the power network and transport to the town; it means that properties to host projects are small in size and this increases the risk of disruption of activities. All these are reflected in greater operational costs.

3. Due to socio-economic conditions in Drosero, much needed support and expertise needs to come from outside the community. Significantly, the particularly low education level of the Drosero inhabitants brings about their inability to cope with the magnitude and complexity of the problems they face.

These risk factors, especially the low education level, mean that social sustainability for Elpida activities differ from those of “mainstream” NGOs. The time horizon for projects and programmes is longer, in anticipation of the Drosero Romani community reaching its emancipation moment. In relation to this, capacity-building for Elpida, as a Romani community-based organisation, starts with fighting illiteracy and endowing the Drosero inhabitants with knowledge and skills which are taken for granted by “mainstream” NGOs. By focusing on education and life-long learning, Elpida is contributing to creating the necessary human capital and helps Drosero to reach faster its emancipation moment.

It is, therefore, of fundamental importance for Elpida to ensure that funding for its main activities, i.e. childhood education and, especially, the running of its preschool education programme, is regular and sufficient as well as scheduled according to this longer-term time horizon, which the special conditions at Drosero necessitate. Elpida is open to discussing with every potential partner and grant provider issues of sustainability, always with respect to the fundamental rights of the Roma, respect for their identity and acknowledgment of their status as Greek citizens.



Elpida actively seeks to engage with governmental institutions, locally, nationally, and internationally, in order to further its goals. Elpida’s President, Ms. Souleiman, is very active in the political field. Her connections with politicians as well as her frequent communication with the Greek Prime Minister have helped foster discussion and achieve resolution of issues concerning either the Roma community in Greece or the settlement of Drosero.

Conference with the Prime Minister’s Office and the Prime Minister

  • Roma NGO Elpida, political engagement

    A group of young Elpida participants visiting with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

    December, 2015: Elpida’s President, Ms. Souleiman, met Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in the framework of cooperation on policies concerning the Roma, where they discussed several issues relating to Roma problems. These problems appertain to education and also to the burning issue of the appointment of a General Secretary for the Roma. This is related to the national Roma strategy. The purpose of the General Secretary would be to liaise with all ministries with the aim to inform and advise the ministers about Roma issues. At any moment, we are expecting the announcement that a General Secretary has been appointed by the Government of Greece, in order to deal with Roma issues. If this is achieved, it will be a great success and progress for the national Roma strategy. Also, Greece is the first country to take such an initiative and will set an example for the rest of Europe to do the same.

  • April, 2016: The students of the 8th secondary school of Xanthi, in the context of their educational trip to Athens, visited the Greek Parliament and with the mediation of Elpida visited the Prime Minister’s residence. The students had the chance to talk with  Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in a cordial atmosphere, presenting their settlement’s problems.

The Ombudsman 

The president of Elpida, in her aim to find solutions for the settlement’s problems and improve the living conditions of the inhabitants of Drosero, has, since the first years of operation of the association, been in contact with the Ombudsman, to express the problems of the settlement. The intention of this contact is to be heard at the highest echelons of the state, so to give solutions and produce results.


Elpida sends demands to solve problems and improve the living conditions in Drosero. Responses received so far are:

  • 4-5-2007: The answer of Mr. Antonis Efstratiades, Provost of Hygiene Department in Municipality of Xanthi about garbage disposal
  • 19-11-2007: The answer of Mr. George Patrikios, Assistant Professor of the DUTH, Department of Architecture about the construction of a central square in Drosero
  • 4-6-2008: The Association’s demand to the Ministry of country planning, built-up area and environment (ΥΠΕΧΩΔΕ) about the integration of the Drosero settlement in the urban plan of Xanthi.
  • 10-6-2008: The answer of Mr. George Paulides, the Deputee of the Mayor of Xanthi about ensuring the existence of transportation means  to and from the Drosero settlement
  • 2-8-2008: The answer of Mr. George Moschos, Assistant of the Ombudsman for children’s rights about  the education of children in all Roma communities in Thrace
  • 16-6-2013: The Association’s demand to the Ministry of Labour, Social Security and Welfare about combatting the unemployment of Roma people, inhabitants of the Drosero settlement
  • 16-7-2013: The Association’s demand to the Ministry of Infrastructure, Transport and Grid (Υπουργείο Υποδομών, Μεταφορών και Δικτύων) about the sewage wastewater and rainwater
  • 16-7-2013: The Association’s demand to the Ministry of Infrastructure, Transport and Grid about the asphalting of the Drosero settlement
  • 16-7-2013: The Association’s demand to the Ministry of Infrastructure, Transport and Grid about issuing driving licenses to illiterates
  • 13-7-2013: The Association’s demand to the Ministry of Health about the equal treatment of Roma people in regard to health issues and in hospitals without being subjected to racism

2015 International Roma Union Parliament Greek Member

2015 European Roma Union delegate from Hellenic Republic/Greece



Numerous institutions have acknowledged the contribution of Elpida in alleviating the problems Drosero inhabitants face, by awarding  Elpida a number of prizes and distinctions.



2016: Ms. Sabiha Souleiman won the award “Personality of the European Roma Spirit” at the 2016 ERSA Awards, given by the Association for Culture, Education and Communication (ACEC). The president of Elpida was selected from among 65 nominations from 23 European Countries for the final round of the award.

2013: Gold Medal ‘for resistance to be Turkish under pressure, the Muslim Roma of Thrace’ from the Rotary Clubs of Thessaloniki. In 2013, the Seventh Rotary Club of Thessaloniki held its 61st awards ceremony titled ‘Benevolence, Social Contribution & Self-Sacrifice’. The President of the Rotary Clubs in Thessaloniki, Mr. Tousinas, spoke about the principles and the purpose of Rotary. The President of Elpida,  Ms. Sabiha Souleiman, received the award from the President of the Jury, Mr. Aspasidis.

Souleiman US State Department Leadership Program Roma Greece

Sabiha Souleiman participating in US State Department Leadership Program, Washington DC, 2010.

2010: Ms. Suleiman was selected by the American Diplomatic Mission in Greece to take part in the State Department’s International Visitors Leadership Program, which took place in different cities in the United States of America. More specific, Washington, New York, San Francisco, Dallas and Virginia. This program lasted from 30 August to 17 September.

2009: 2nd International Award for Women of Courage 2009 for successful and sustained effort to promote issues of the Roma community in Thrace (nominated by the American Mission in Greece). The awards were given at the United States Consulate in Thessaloniki. The US Ambassador Mr. Daniel Speckhard gave the prize to Ms. Sabiha Souleiman.

2007: In November 2007, the President of the Hellenic Republic, Mr. Karolos Papoulias, gave an award to the President of the Roma Women’s Association of Drosero, Ms. Sabiha Souleiman, in recognition of the work of the organization. It was the first time that a Roma woman gave a speech in the old Parliament building, where she invited Greek society to treat Roma children as its own.

Participation at Conferences as a Keynote Speaker

The president and the members of Elpida participate in various conferences and European forums in order to learn about practices and policies concerning the Roma. This is to help devise new practices to strengthen the community and ensure its integration and identity.


Meetings attended so far:

31 March 2017: Regional Conference of Social Inclusion of Roma, with the initiative of the National Center for Social Solidarity, within the framework of the project “Development of the National Roma Platform for Consultation and Dialogue on Roma Of the Greek NRCP “), which is being implemented with EU co-financing (Program” Rights, Equality and Citizenship 2014-2020 “), Thessaloniki, Greece

24-26 March 2017: “The youth’s clock”, Simulation of the City Council held in the Art and Thinking Multi-Room of Manos Hatzidakis home and the City Council Meetings Room. Ms. Suleiman Sabiha was one of the persons who held a speech with title: “From the settlement of Drosero to the UN Committees”, Xanthi, Greece

15-16 December 2016: Athens Bar Association, Lawyer’s training on non-discrimination, gender equality and Roma and Traveller women under the JUSTROM Programme, Athens, Greece

22 November 2016: Cultural Centre of the Municipality of Athens, Launch event of the

EC/CoE Joint Programme on Access to Justice for Roma and Traveller Women, Athens, Greece

19 November 2016: Bodossaki Foundation, Closing Ceremony of the programme “We are all citizens, Athens, Greece

13 April 2016: Research Institute for the Balkans, Violence against women in the Balkans. Thessaloniki, Greece

18-20 March 2016: 10th Congress of the International Romani Union IRU. Skopje (FYROM)

1-2 December 2015: Dialogue mechanism with Roma and Travelers Organisations, Strasbourg

6-7 October 2015‏: Practical info and Agenda of the Fifth International Review Conference of Roma Women, Skopje

Souleiman Elpida Roma Greece

Sabiha Souleiman representing the Drosero community at the OSCE meeting, Warsaw, 2015.

1-3 October 2015: OSCE/ODIHR Contact Point for Roma and Sinti Issues: New report on Roma and Sinti youth‏, Warsaw, Poland

28 March 2014: Greek ombudsman, framework and good practices, Athens, Greece

5 March 2015: Day of women, Soroptimistic Union of Greece, Xanthi, Greece

10 March 2014: Meeting Against Racism and Intolerance, (ECRI), Strasbourg, France

26-27 November 2014: ΕRIO (Εuropean Roma Information Office), General Assembly Meeting, Brussels, Belgium

17 November 2014: European Roma Information Office (ERIO), high level conference with local authorities, Brussels, Belgium

2-3 October 2014: ROMACT, Roma Inclusion on the Ground – The ROMACT Experience, Brussels, Belgium

28 March 2014: Ombudsman, Roma Social Inclusion and Good Practices, Athens, Greece

10 March 2014: Council of Europe, Meeting Against Racism and Intolerance, (ECRI), Strasbourg, France

28-30 January 2014: U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Combating Discrimination, Violence and Intolerance Based on Religion and National Origin. Athens, Greece

7-8 November 2013: OSCE, Supplementary Human Roma and Sinti, Vienna, Austria

16-17 September 2013: Council Of Europe, 4th International Conference of Roma Women, Helsinki, Finland

27-28 November 2012: 5th Congress of UN about Minorities, President’s speech in plenary, Geneva, Switzerland

14-16 November 2012: 1st Greek-German meeting on social organization, Thessaloniki, Greece

7 April 2012: Book presentation Drosero: A Roma, Muslim Settlement in Thrace, Xanthi, Greece

03-06 February 2011: Dosta, Awareness Campaign to Combat Prejudice Against the Roma, Council of Europe, Ministry of Education, Lifelong Learning and Religious Affairs, Athens, Greece

2 December 2011: Policies to Combat Discrimination in Greece and the Role of Civil Society, Xanthi, Greece

11-12 January 2010: 2nd International Conference of Roma Women, Ministry of Interior, Decentralization and e-Government Network Roma and the Council of Europe, Athens, Greece

6-9 April 2010: Roundtable with Romani and Travelers women activists On the road to Equality, FRA (Fundamental Rights Agency), Cordoba, Spain

30 August-17 September 2010: The president of Elpida was chosen by the U.S Mission in Greece to participate in the State Department’s International Visitors Leadership Program, which is held in various US cities, including Washington, New York and San Francisco

8 April 2009: University Of Thessaly Department of Architecture Building Together, Volos, Greece

21 November 2009: Meeting to prepare International Conference of the Women’s Roma NGO DromKotar Mestipen, Barcelona, Cordoba, Madrid, Spain

9-10 November 2009: International Conference on Migration and Freedom Movement of Roma, FRA (Fundamental Rights Agency), COE (Council of Europe) and OSCE, Vienna, Austria

6-9 October 2009: Annual Meeting of the OECD, OSCE, Warsaw, Poland

28 September-9 October 2009: Roma/Sinti and in particular, early education for Roma and Sinti children, Human Dimension Implementation Meeting. Warsaw, Poland

29-30 January 2008: Active Citizens Roma Social Integration, ERIO (European Roma Information Office), Brussels, Belgium

8-9 February 2008: Access of Roma Children to Education in Turkey, ERIO (European Roma Information Office), Roma Education Fund, Istanbul, Turkey

25-26 February 2008: Decade of Roma Inclusion, guest of Victoria Mokatsi-Rom MEP Organization, the Council of Europe, the World Bank, Soros Foundation Development Program of the United Nations, Budapest, Hungary

17 April 2008: International meeting of the European Parliament for the Turkish and Macedonian minority in Greece. FUEN (Federal Union of European Nationalities) – Federal Association of European Nations, European Green Party, Brussels, Belgium

2 October 2008: Annual meeting OASA, Warsaw, Poland

24 November 2008: Annual meeting of the European Roma Forum, Council of Europe, ERTF (European Roma and Travelers Forum), European Forum on Roma and migrant groups, Strasbourg, France



Publications that Refer to Elpida

January 2014: Newspaper ‘Free Press’ Title ‘Δεν θέλουμε να γίνουμε Τούρκοι με το ζόρι’, (We don’t want to be Turkish under pressure) Reportage: Angelos Aggelidis

April 2010: Magazine ‘Exposure’ issue 24 p. 17, Feature ‘Οικισμός Δροσερού Ρομά – Στη ζωή είμαστε όλοι μόνοι μας’ Κοινωνία Ώρα Μηδέν, (Settlement of Drosero Roma-We are all alone in life: A society at zero hour)

May 2009: Information sheet ‘Περιφερειακά…. Ανατολικής Μακεδονίας-Θράκης, (Regionally….. East Macedonia-Thrace), issue 1, ‘Ανθίζει «Η Ελπίδα» για τους Ρομά του Δροσερού Ξάνθης, (The Hope is blooming for Roma of Drosero, Xanthi)

May 2009: Newspaper ‘Thrace’, Title ‘Εντερλέζι: Γιορτή τιμή Από τους Ρομά, (Ederlezi, Honorary Celebration honor from Roma) Reportage: Alexander Paulikianos

May 2009: Newspaper ‘Thrace Fighter’, Title ‘Οι Ρομά του Δροσερού γιόρτασαν τον ερχομό της άνοιξης με το «Εντερλέζι», (Roma people of Drosero celebrated the spring coming with Ederlezi)

27 February 2009: Newspaper ‘Time’, Title ‘Η Ξεχωριστή Πρόεδρος του Συλλόγου Ρομά Δροσερού «Η Ελπίδα»’, (The unique President of the Women’s Association of Drosero Elpida) Interview: Melachrini Martidou

December 2008: Magazine ‘Nemesis’, Title ‘Κάζομ τραϊσαράβ’, (As long as I live, I hope), which is the motto of Drosero’s children in the Romani language. Reportage: Haralampos Dantis

9 April 2008: Newspaper ‘Thrace observer’, Title ‘Η Ελπίδα ταιριάζει στο Δροσερό’, (Hope suits Drosero). Reportage: Jenny Katsari- Vafiadis

July 2007: Newspaper ‘Thrace’ Title ‘Οι γιατροί του Κόσμου’ (Doctors of the World) on the occasion of their visit to the Drosero settlement  http://mdmgreece.gr/

Research and Cooperation

Elpida’s activities are not limited to the educational and social fields, but go further. More specifically, the association in an effort to disseminate information about social integration problems and Roma living conditions has managed to mobilise people from various cultural and political fields. In this context, the association works with academics from several institutions and assists them in conducting research in the settlement of Drosero. For example:

  • The census in the settlement in 2007
  • Cooperation with Evangelia Adamou, Doctor of linguistics at the University of Paris and Director of Research at the national centre of scientific research in France
  • Research on language contact in Drosero, with recorded talks in 2010.  Subvention: Agence Nationale de la Recherche Scientifique (ANR-09-JCIC-0121-01). Towards a multi-level, typological and computer assisted analysis of contact-induced language change.
  • In October 2015: Research on language processing in Romani, with 50 speakers from Drosero. Subvention : Laboratoire d’ Excellence Empirical Foundations of Linguistics, Agence Nationale de la Recherche Scientifique.



2014-2015:Elpida participated in European Union Program EduRom Promoting the access of Roma to LLP, VET and employment trough family education in primary schools, which involved six countries (Romania, Spain, Czech Republic, Republic Of Ireland, Bulgaria and Greece). Consulate General of USA in Thessaloniki and Stavros Niarchos Foundation covered with grants funding for the participation of Elpida in the program.  The organizations and universities, which took part in this program, are the following:


Romani Association of Women Drom Kotar Mestipen: is a non-profit organization created in 1999 in Spain (Barcelona) by Roma and non-Roma women with different characteristics and backgrounds. It is a national organization, carrying its activities out mainly at the regional level. It was created to overcome the triple exclusion suffered by Roma women: for being women (gender discrimination) belonging to an ethnic minority group (ethnic exclusion) that have been deprived of adequate access to the education (academic filter). It works with the promotion of social, political and economic opportunities for the Roma women, Roma identity and Roma adult education.

Rovira i Virgili University is located in the Catalan cities of Tarragona and Reus, Spain. Its name is in honour to Antoni Rovira i Virgili. The University is a teaching and research institution with centers in Tarragona, Reus, Vila-seca, Tortosa and El Vendrell.

Amalipe Center for Interethnic Dialogue and Tolerance is a leading Roma organization, working for the equal integration of Roma in Bulgarian Society. The organization plays a central role in organizing a Roma civic movement and advocating for Roma integration within the state institutions. Amalipe is a member of the National Network of Children, the Civil Participation Forum, the National Patient organization, the European Women Lobby. Center Amalipe has its representatives in the Monitoring Committees of the Human Resources Development OP, Education and Science for Smart Growth OP, Regions in Development OP, Good Governance OP and the Partnership Agreement. At present the organization has Community Development Centers and Local community clubs in 11 municipalities and works with a network of more than 170 schools.

The University of Barcelona is a public university located in the city of Barcelona, Catalonia in Spain. With 75 undergraduate programs, 353 graduate programs and 96 doctorate programs to over 63,700 students, UB was considered to be the best University in Spain in the 2011 QS World University Rankings, which ranked the university 148th overall in the world. Its subject rankings were: 74th in Life Sciences & Biomedicine, 89th in Arts & Humanities, 87th in Natural Sciences, 143rd in Social Sciences and 175th in Engineering & IT. In 2010, according to University Ranking by Academic Performance (URAP), it is the best university in Spain and 83rd university in the world.

Non-governmental organization SLOVO 21 was founded in 1999 in Prague and realizes educational, cultural, media, public awareness and other projects, especially Roma projects and project aiming on integrations of immigrants. Leading goals are to combat racism and xenophobia, to help to protect and respect human rights, to teach tolerance towards ethnic minorities, in particular the Roma minority, to support integration of foreign nationals living in the Czech Republic, to provide media support to minorities in the Czech Republic.

Federation of Cultural and Adult Education Associations: FACEPA gathers adults with no university qualifications taking part in adult education and governing their associations by means of direct participation in social, cultural, educational, political and economic fields in their territory. Our purpose is to work collectively towards a democratic educational and cultural model, in which the voices of people with no academic qualifications and who, because of this, have been excluded from public debate are taken into account.

The Roma Women’s Association For Our Children was founded on 15th June 1997 at the initiative of a group of Roma women from Strand Colony, Timisoara, Romania. Mission: To promote Roma in the social-political life in Romania, proudly, without prejudice, by providing educational and cultural activities for Roma women and children. Objectives: Promoting the access of Roma women and girls to education; Defending the rights and ensuring equal opportunities regarding the access to education for Roma children; Preventing prejudice and racism by organizing conferences, discussion, and seminars; Promoting a positive image of the Roma within the media; Maintaining the identity of Roma through Romani language courses, theatre, music, dance, and preserving the values and traditions.

Pavee Point is a Dublin-based, national, non-governmental organization established in 1985 and committed to the realization of human rights for Irish Travellers and Roma living in Ireland. The organization is a partnership of Travellers, Roma and members of the majority population working together to address the needs of Travellers and Roma as minority ethnic groups who experience exclusion, marginalization and discrimination.




If you would like to know more about Elpida and its activities, or if you would like to identify ways for assisting in its mission, please contact us at: sullogoselpida@gmail.com