The ZEBRA program

What do ordinary teenagers do in the poor communities? They do what everywhere else in the world. They leave home, hang out in groups and spend most of their time with their peers. They have few opportunities for meaningful activities. In poor communities, there is no space to realize your ideas or use your talents.

In the ZEBRA program, we therefore focus on children and young people from poor settlements in the teenage age of 11 to 19 years. We develop their life attitudes, skills, and personal resources. We empower them to succeed in education, involve them in sports activities, develop their talents and accompany them on their way to adulthood.

We launched the program in three communities, in Veľká Lomnica, Chminianske Jakubovany and Kecerovce. Under the leadership of Roma leaders, we implement activities in the stimulating and safe space of Zebra clubs.


Safe zone for you


We understand your needs.

Be safe

You are safe here.


We treat you with respect.


You can be yourself.

To zebras, stripes are like fingerprints to humans. Each zebra is unique, just as the young people in our clubs are unique. For us, black and white stripes are a symbol of inclusion, which we want to build thanks to the meetings of young people from Roma communities with people from the majority. We also use the term zebra to name a pedestrian crossing. We want our Zebra program to create opportunities for young people from poverty to transition to new places and experiences that would not otherwise be available to them.

What are the needs of young people in communities?

Have water in the settlements that they don’t release for just a few hours a day. Having a light on the way home from school so I don’t have to worry about going home. Have a place where it will be quiet for a while and no one will shout. Being able to talk to someone about what’s bothering me.

Sebastián, a youth from Veľká Lomnica

The transition to secondary school in the city is often so difficult that a large percentage of children do not graduate. I see the solution in the form of a tutor who would support them in adapting to another school.

Mgr. Alena Davidová, PhD., director of the Kecerovce Elementary School

Clubs give children the opportunity to share their worries and talk. They can develop their talents, which they do not have at home. I would give the children an education and a job that would fulfill them.

Olinka, youth leader, Chminianske Jakubovany

Young people go through difficult challenges in adolescence. All the more so if they come from and grow up in poor communities. It is therefore wonderful if there are important adults who stand by them, support them, encourage them in their development and can manage these challenges together. That, in my opinion, is the true essence of youth work. … Zobraziť viac

Karin Swanson Adrášiková, expert consultant for Zebra program

Why was the Zebra program created?

In the Omama program, we focus on children in early childhood, which is the most important in human development. The period of puberty is the most demanding for young people. It is there that they make decisions that will affect the rest of their lives. They decide if and where they will go to high school or start a family.

In poor communities, there is pressure on girls to become mothers very early, often at the age of 16, sometimes even earlier. It is not an ethnic problem, but a problem of generational poverty, where early sexual experiences and teenage pregnancies are a social phenomenon everywhere in the world. Children have children who are born into a vicious cycle of poverty.

This also leads to a high rate of early termination of primary and secondary education and poor preparation for the labor market. In Slovakia, unemployment of low-skilled people is up to 29%. Roma youth face various forms of discrimination: verbal abuse, but also segregation and isolation from peers from the majority. The result is limited opportunities and inequality, low self-esteem, damaged mental health. After-school programs for youth from excluded communities are almost non-existent.

Well-spent extracurricular time and positive connections with peers or adults from the majority can be a force that will help compensate for the many disadvantages of these children, provide them with role models, shape their skills and character, and fill their resources. Thanks to this, they can survive their youth much healthier and prepare for a more dignified life in adulthood.

Activities of ZEBRA clubs

  • Individual online and offline mentoring and tutoring with adults or peers from the majority
  • Active group activities: adventure activities, games, sports, theater, music, trips, camps
  • FIE/MIU lessons: a special method focused on the development of thinking, analytical strategies and problem solving
  • Community service: supporting social responsibility, community micro-projects, improving the environment, helping those in need
  • Vocational training for future employment, including the development of soft skills
  • If financial constraints prevent higher education, we will offer targeted scholarships to young people


Activities are led by youth leaders who come directly from the settlements. Similar to the Omama program, we develop the residents of poor communities themselves, who gain work experience and grow personally thanks to their mentors.

We work with experts

Edudrama: how theater techniques can help when working with young people


The Duke’s of Edinburgh International Award (DofE): volunteering and connecting peers from the majority with young Roma


National Bank of Slovakia: financial literacy


Karin Swanson Andrašíková: methodology and professional consultations


Arnold Kiss, Pavel Šveda and others: lecturers of educational workshops for youth leaders

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