Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Lake Snagov area and Roma. Literature, Politics

Awareness of minority issues.
Obvious poverty among Roma. 
Amelioration route:  less clear.

1.  Lake Snagov area and Roma.

 There are Roma villages up the dirt roads. Taking out a camera seemed rude, turning people into objects, so we took none in the actual villages. The Roma villages we drove through were stark in their poverty.  Villages sometimes were of light-skinned people, peasants; others were the darker-skinned Rom or Gypsy, but in some cases we could not differentiate. The most isolated villages appeared Rom.  Along the road: old women bent double under firewood, gaunt faces in doorways. We could not be sure at that early time in our visit.  Everyone was helpful, pointed the way.  See FN 1

  • There were no other cars out there in the country where we were, dirt and dust, dirt houses, dirt everywhere, no amenities, even so close to Bucharest. There were deep ruts from the wagon wheels, and horses. Horse carts. That has probably changed by now, with the funding coming in from the EU membership. Has it?

2.  Literature and Roma

Colum McCann wrote a novel, Zoli, in 2007 and based roughly on the life of a Slovakian Roma poet, Branislawa Wajs, see Gypsies, Roma, Romani, and Zoli  He followed it with a current events opinion Gypsies Put Europe To The Test: The Roma of Romania and Bulgaria, at the International Herald Tribune.  A trip to Romania means daily contact with the larger Gypsy or Roma issue, and unanswered questions about what can help the poverty without destroying the culture, and can or will the European Union and other Roma places (the US) tolerate difference  - http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/01/10/opinion/edmcCann.php.

The issue is how Romania, Bulgaria, and other countries regarding the European Union, will deal with their minority populations.

3.  Awareness.  Photo gallery of Roma, done by Leafpile - http://www.leafpile.com/TravelLog/Romania/Roma/Roma.htm.  A problem with photography is it must be paid for. Learn that and be prepared. Children will pose, and adults, but then the hands come out, more arrive. It is a culture issue.  Come up with the coins, even a bill, and more arrive.

  • Look past the crowd at the doorways.  There usually is an adult there. Signal no more, the universal palms flat down, and slicing laterally, and glare, even ceremonially add more coins, and then point to the car, act out driving, and usually the adult will call the others back.  We were not comfortable taking pictures of Roma, looks like our over-concern for people's sense of privacy was off base. Do look at these.
  • Further update, on the poor vs. progress. This is 3/3/08: Read the 2001 On the Margins: Roma and Public Services in Romania, Bulgaria, and Macedonia, With a Supplement on Housing in the Czech Republic, by Ina Zoon, Open Society Institute press 2001. See http://www.romadecade.org/egy-cikk.php?hir_id=9686   The report covers denials of health care, lack of adequate housing, and recommendations.