In the expanding ghettos of the cities, many Roma families live in housing with little or no water or no electricity. Many children attend segregated and substandard schools and most of their parents don’t have jobs.
The Roma Families Living in Europe Narrator:
This is Fakulteta on the outskirts of Bulgaria’s capital, Sofia, home to 35,000 people, the majority of Roma. They are celebrating April the 8th, International Roma Day, the day in 1971 when their mother country, India, officially recognized the Roma people, their language, and their flag. It’s also the day they remember their history, their exodus from India a thousand years ago, their traveling, the million plus Roma who died in the Nazi concentration camps. Persecution and racism are nothing new for the Romani people. But since 1989, in the transition from communism to capitalism, their living conditions in Central and Eastern Europe have deteriorated dramatically. They live, on average, 15 years less than the rest of the population. In the expanding ghettos on the fringes of cities, many Roma families live in housing with little or no water or electricity. Many children attend segregated, substandard schools and most of their parents don’t have jobs. Those living in rural areas are among the most deprived.
Narrator: The President should come and see how we live, we haven’t got enough to eat. We sleep on beds made out of planks, 10, 11 children to a room. We’ve got a hoeing job here and we make just enough for food for the evening. We are wretched folk, gypsies.
Narrator: Four out of ten Roma in Romania live on less than $2.00 a day, according to the World Bank. The country is home to an estimated two million Romani people, almost one in 10 of the population. Many are so isolated from the main population they don’t even take basic steps to become citizens. In one neighborhood of the Galati province, most Roma are born, live and die without being registered outside their own community. The task of wading through bureaucracy to get them on to the local authority’s books is Viorica Gotu’s full time job. Viorica Gotu I think it is very important because if you don’t have that identity document first of all you can’t apply for a job, you can’t enroll in a training course, you can’t receive child allowance. You have no identity. You don’t know who you are.
Narrator: If Viorica hadn’t done it, I wouldn’t have got to the documents. The police refused to issue me any papers. She did it all for me.
Narrator: Now, do you want a job?
Narrator: Of course, naturally. Narrator: If someone came to you and said, “I’ll either give you aid or a job” what would you prefer?
Narrator: I’d prefer to refuse the aid and take up the job, so that I can have a better life with my kids. It’s better with a job than waiting around for aid to come once a month.
Narrator: But change is happening. The Roma aren’t one single group, they’re separated by borders and languages, which has led to decades of disjointed political activism across Europe. But now their leaders are starting to bring about change at an international level, this time with a common voice. 2004 was a milestone. The European Roma and Travelers Forum, representing the major Romani organizations, joined the Council of Europe, and became directly involved in decisions affecting their communities. Rudko Kawczynski: Well it’s the first time the Roma has been even recognized. Until now we have been treated like a fringe group, like a social phenomenon, a social problem. It’s the first time in history that the European governments is recognized the Roma as a minority that lives as trans-national minority, it lives everywhere in the European countries and with a common problem, and that something has to be done to improve the living conditions of this group.
(Source: video.ezinemark.com, via sahrawi)