Fellow Since 1998
This profile was prepared when Eva Sopková was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1998.
The New Idea
Eva Sopková has developed a grassroots community development program that recognizes the inner capacity of the Roma (gypsy) communities of Slovakia and Central and Eastern Europe to transform themselves and provide community services that the state is either unable or unwilling to provide. With a program that addresses high rates of departure from school, chronic unemployment, and a lack of social services, she is providing essential training for them to reach their potential and break a cycle of poverty fueled by those problems. Beginning with Roma mothers, whom she is teaching how to prepare their young children for school, she trains members of the community to provide educational and social services to their peers, thus improving the quality of community life, generating employment opportunities, and teaching marketable skills.