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TURF GALA, the most important horse race of Central and Eastern Europe, takes place in Bratislava and is enjoying growing popularity, as is its accompanying competition for the most elegant lady's hat. This was evident on June 5, when a record number of ladies showed up with various imaginative ideas on their heads. In the end, Tatiana Marušková from Nová Baňa, won with a hat made in the wicker's workshop of the Social Service House for Physically and Mentally Disabled Youth.
photo: TASR

High Tatras
EU allocates €6 million for Tatras

THE EUROPEAN Union will provide Slovakia with €6 million (Sk235 million) to aid in the reforestation and restoration in the wake of November 2004's hurricane-force storm in the High Tatras, according to the European Commission.
The money will come from the EU's Solidarity Fund, which helps EU member states in the aftermath of natural disasters, the TASR news agency wrote.
The windstorm caused damage estimated at close to Sk9 billion (€231 million), which meets the EC's condition of damages of more than 0.6 percent of GDP to qualify for Solidarity Fund assistance.
Following the EC's official decision, Slovakia will have one year to make use of the money.


Oravice
Beslan children holiday in Orava

AROUND 60 elementary school pupils who survived last year's hostage drama in the northern Osetsk town of Beslan arrived in Slovakia for a holiday on May 30.
The Russian children will spend three weeks in the Oravice area of Slovakia's northern region of Orava, the daily SME reported.
The stay is being financed by Marián Murín, an entrepreneur from the village of Trstená in Orava. He said he had wanted the children to have a holiday earlier but it was not recommended at that time.
Russian psychologist Marina Khetagurova said that even though the children laugh and are playful, the Beslan drama was a great trauma for them and they are very sensitive to any mention of the tragic event. Some of the children's brothers and sisters were killed in the hostage taking while others are still in hospital.
"It may take years, even generations until everything is as it was before September 1 of last year," Rima Khabaeva of the Russian Education Ministry, told the daily. She added that she hoped the vacation in Oravice would help the Beslan children in their psychological rehabilitation.
In the Beslan tragedy 330 people died. Half of them were children. The terrorists held over 1,000 hostages in the school's gym for three days.
Murín had the help of the Slovak embassy in Russia in arranging the children's trip to Oravice.


Spiš
Roma leaving for UK

ROMA from Slovakia's Spiš region are gradually leaving for the UK. Several Roma from the village of Richnava have already left, including married couples, and their houses are now standing empty, the daily SME reported.
Elementary school pupil Vladimír Pokuta spent four months in the northern English city of Sheffield, where his parents are working on a poultry farm. Other relatives are also trying to find work there.
Vladimír has now returned to Slovakia where his granny is taking care of him, but he plans to return over the summer holidays.
"My dad left [for England] about a year ago. He came back after a few weeks and then left again together with my mum," Vladimír told the daily.
His parents send money to pay for his upkeep.
Bystrany in the Spišská Nová Ves district has many abandoned sheds where Roma people lived before they took off to England.
According to SME several dozen families have left from this village for England. Now Roma from other villages are leaving too.
"Our friend from Švedlár came back home recently. He worked in a pizza place there and plans to go back. There are also people from the villages of Žehra, Spišské Podhradie, Bystrany, and Richnava," said Patrik Dunka, a Roma assistant in a school in Kluknava.
Many Roma travel to England without even speaking a word of English, but others buy dictionaries and try to learn at least the basics at home.
As yet there are no statistics on the number of Slovak Roma who have left to work in the UK.

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