It must be hard being a Roma

There are quite a few Roma families at TESCO. And working in the food services has given me time to observe them and to hear what could easily be considered racist comments from some of the local staff. I’ve even heard from someone that Polish Roma are better than Ukrainian Roma; but in the context that Roma are bad. An American volunteer thought that it is just that they are always begging for money and he has seen one of the families at TESCO out begging and the Poles aren’t used to it.
I think I need to do some more reading about the Roma people in Europe before I start making any comments about good or bad behavior. Perhaps that American volunteer should too.
What I have observed is that the families seem to be very large and include multiple generations. They have been at TESCO longer than most and I believe this is because of the family size in addition to negative biases that it is harder to find places for them to relocate.
But what I want to talk about now is a little different. My observation is that these Roma families seem to give their children a lot of responsibilities. Mostly I see them taking care of siblings including caring for infants or they are picking up meals to bring back to rest of the family. But the most noticeable thing is there doesn’t seem to be any joy among the children. Even with their fathers missing because of the war, I might expect children to laugh and play sometime. There is one daughter in particular who I see often taking care of a young baby. I’ve seen her playing with the baby, but I don’t see her smile. And her older brother is always in charge of thing and demands one thing or another of us. Well today, there was music in the building. Roma music was being played by one of the many groups who visit. Helen had gone over to see what was going on and I walked over short after. When I arrived, Helen was dancing opposite the young girl and she could not contain her joy in dancing. Her smile lit up the room. And her brother was close by, showing his dancing skills with a sense of joy on his face.
Later in the day, they returned to our little bistro with the same old looks on their faces, but I least I now know that they can have fun. I need to learn mor about the Romas.

4 thoughts on “It must be hard being a Roma”

  1. Thank you for these thoughts Bruce. Our friend in Prague, an American woman married to a Czech man, is volunteering at the Prague railway station. She says there are Ukranian women and children arriving, but many more Roma – women with children under 13. I am intrigued (but not surprised) that this has NOT gotten into the American news…

  2. Thanks Bruce for this new dimension to the story. Very thoughtful commentary and observations. Made me think of this well-known Mark Twain quote. He says travel, but you are doing “travel” on steroids’! Like many things, finding out all the things we don’t know is the first step.

    “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

    ― Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad / Roughing It

    Joe Snodgrass, Arlington MA


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