Since Daniela Hivesova-Silanova discovered the Roma community for the first time over 22 years ago, she has worked continually for the bettering of Romany life in Slovakia, and for the fight against discrimination and violence against them, speaking out where otherwise they would not be heard. Not only has she challenged and enabled many Roma to find confidence and pride in their talents, but she has made these talents visible to the public as well – through a journal, a theater, her writing, and her poetry.
A poet and thespian graduate from Bratislava, Daniela Hivesova-Silanova met her destiny by chance: while working in an electronics factory in the Slovak city of Presov, she noticed “workers with darker skin than mine and beautiful women sweeping the floors.” Daniela often chatted with the Roma workers and was touched by their singing: “I wanted to show them how gifted and outstanding they were – and I wanted to show the "Gadze" (the non-Roma), who Roma really were.” So began a lifelong, passionate mission. In 1991, Daniela co-founded the journal "Romano nevo l’il" (New Romany Journal) of which she is the deputy editor, as well as the first and only Romany theater, Romathan (which stands for Romanesthan, the country of Roma people), in Slovakia. In 1993, with a group of 15 people, Roma and non-Roma intellectuals from Bratislava, Presov, and Kosice, Daniela founded the organization Jekhetane (Together) to unite all citizens of the Slovak Republic to increase Romany pride, confidence, and identity, inform the public about the Romany community, and act against prejudice and stereotyped thinking of the Roma minority. Daniela is also a co-founder of a unique art school in Kosice, where she teaches Slovak, theater, and Romany culture and history to Roma and non-Roma teenagers. Through her articles, books, lectures, poetry, plays, and through her fundraising efforts, Daniela has worked continuously over 22 years for the bettering of Romany life in Slovakia.