RARE - Amaro Records


"They did not look at the skin colour. There was enough work and the approach was simple : you want to work, come on, we'll try you and we'll give you the job." -says Rene Pustaj about his experience in England. Now he is the bartender at the Amaro Records Studio and Music Café which is a social enterprise in Czech Republic.

Amaro Records Studio and Music Café which is a social enterprise focusing on support to young Roma from socially excluded areas in Brno. It serves as a place for a cross-cultural exchange which helps to change lives, the Roma community, the public and the city itself. It provides space for musicians to meet during regular cultural events, such as concerts, jam sessions or lectures. Amaro Records facilities has been transformed from a former gambling house, place of despair for many local (not only) Roma families located right on the border between the Brno city centre and areas marked by social exclusion populated mainly by Roma, into a place for development, inspiration and cooperation.

René graduated from the Business School in Brno. During his studies at the high school his first child was born. “The family and everyone around me were trying to convince me to leave the school, go to work and take care of the baby. But I just could not resign to attend the school because I wanted a better life for myself and for that child, "recalls René. “Finally, I managed to finish the high school despite all these pressures even though I was taking care of the child and it was very difficult – the school in the morning, from school to a part-time job, then home. I was enjoying a lot my studies at the Business School.”

After graduation, Rene wanted to find a job as quickly as possible. But he was not successful for a long time. “When I was interested in the work position, they usually told me by phone that I was matching the conditions. But it was all on the phone. When I came to the interview afterwards, the reaction was always negative. I was meeting the required conditions, I do not know where the problem was, but nobody employed me," describes René. It was a great disillusionment for him, because he had a problem of supporting his family. Eventually, he was forced to follow the path of many other Czech Roma and move to England, where his brother, who had previously experienced something similar, has already been living. René's brother is still living in England nowadays and has established a business there.

In England, he did not encounter discrimination similar to what he had to face at home. “They did not look at the skin colour and other similar things. There was enough work and the approach was simple - you want to work, come on, we'll try you and we'll give you the job. I liked that. But on the other hand, I was at work from morning till night. I have not seen the family for days; at seven in the morning I went to work and late in the evening I returned home.” Finally, after his family insisting, René returned back home to Brno.

But after returning back to the Czech Republic, he was staying without a job for 3 years again. He went to the Labour Office, occasionally finding a short part-time job. Generally, it was at the construction or other heavy physical work. However, he could not find a job that would match his education. “Then I heard of a café where they were recruiting staff - they were also looking for a bartender. With my wife, we were thinking: it is a Roma organization, there would be no such prejudices and they could give me a chance. They will treat me like a human being. And they offered me a job, and finally also to my wife. I work as a bartender and I like this job very much. I have friends from the school, many also from the majority population which I meet regularly. Finally, I do not have to be ashamed in front of them because I work, pay taxes, I am not dependent on the state social benefits,” sums up René.

Programme co-funded by European Union funds (ERDF, IPA, ENI)