Although there is a high rate of unemployment among returnees under the Readmission Agreement between the European Community and the Republic of Serbia, the case of Slađana Glišić shows that self-initiative and dedication can change this situation for the better. The project “Establishing Home Care Service for the Elderly and People with Disabilities through the Employment of Geronto-Housekeepers” provides an opportunity for members of vulnerable social groups to find employment.
In 2015, Slađana Glišić went to Cologne with her husband and family in search of better living conditions. She returned to Serbia in 2018 and said that the return had not been easy because she was faced with intolerance because of her Roma ethnicity. At first, her family lived from their savings, but later their financial situation became very difficult because, due to a lack of personal documents, Slađana was unable to exercise the right to social assistance and child allowance or find a job.
High unemployment rates and poor financial situations are not rare among returnees, 80 percent of whom are Roma. According to the Survey on the Needs of Returnees to the Republic of Serbia, the unemployment rate among returnees is 70 percent. On the other hand, data from the study Integration of Roma Returnees through Better Conditions of Education and Employment show that the employment rate among Roma is 26%. The same study indicates that Roma women are even more disadvantaged, as only 13% of them are employed.
In order to create better conditions for the employment of returnees on the Serbian labour market, German-Serbian development cooperation has supported the project Establishing Home Care Service for the Elderly and People with Disabilities through the Employment of Geronto-Housekeepers – Women from Sensitive Social Groups, implemented by the City Municipality of Mladenovac in cooperation with the organisations Caritas Šabac and the Centre for Protection of Human and Minority Rights and Values OKO Mladenovac. Designed for people from sensitive social groups, with a special focus on Roma women, this project includes training for female and male geronto-housekeepers according to the accredited programme of the Republic Institute for Social Protection. Upon completion of the training course, 30 trainees have received a licence, and the 14 most successful ones were also employed. Slađana was one of them.
“I heard from my neighbour about the training for geronto-housekeepers; I sent an application and got the opportunity to learn new useful things. During my training, I learned how to give first aid in some situations, how to talk to the elderly and what to expect in old age. I manage to apply in my work everything I have learned”, says Slađana. She also says that this job means a lot to her because it enables her family to live better. “We have succeeded in reducing the debt for electricity and water, and now I can afford athletics training for my children”. Slađana says she likes her job because it is humane and not difficult. “During one working day, I visit three beneficiaries to prepare their meals, give them appropriate therapy and tidy up the house in agreement with them. Very often I buy groceries and medicines for them, I schedule their medical examinations and accompany them to medical appointments“, Slađana describes her working day.
From the beginning of the training, it was obvious that Slađana liked this occupation, as confirmed by Suzana Vasić, a member of the Mladenovac Municipal Council responsible for social issues, national minorities, and the promotion and protection of human and minority rights. “Slađana was very active during the training and also showed her knowledge and skills on the tests, so she was given the opportunity to be employed as geronto-housekeeper. She showed a great interest in this profession, which can be concluded from the comments of the beneficiaries she works with“, said Ms. Vasić. “This project is very useful for the community for many reasons. In addition to enabling individuals from sensitive social groups to acquire new skills and increase their chances of employment, thanks to this project the elderly and people with disabilities are getting care and help they need. It is our great pleasure to hear the beneficiaries praising the work of our geronto-housekeepers“, said Ms. Vasić.
The project Establishing Home Care Service for the Elderly and People with Disabilities through the Employment of Geronto-Housekeepers – Women from Sensitive Social Groups is part of the project Initiative for Inclusion and it is implemented by the German International Cooperation Organisation (GIZ) and the Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities (SCTM). It will last until December 2018.
 The survey was conducted by the International Organization for Migration.
 The study was conducted by the Public Policy Research Centre and the Serbian Roma Forum