On my annual migration South, driving 9 hours a day, this time through pouring rain, the radio blasting tornado warnings, my eyes focused on the tail-lights of the slow moving cars and trucks ahead, what rose to my mind were the photographs of Gypsy children in those condemned Western European encampments. Here are these Roma, mostly from Romania, where they were enslaved until the late 19 hundreds, exploited and marginalized ever since. When a uniting Europe opened her borders, they followed what to them appeared like an opening to hope, only to be met by hatred and persecution, once again. No prospects of work, housing, health care, most of all no acceptance.
Yet, look at the photographs of these children. They look well dressed. Some little girls have ribbons in their hair. The round handsome little faces of some dark-haired, some blond children Roma children expectant, alert. They look loved, trusting next to their parents, their elders. Compare that to the slums of other poverty stricken peoples. And I wonder, are any non-Gypsies struck by this seeming impossibility, this incongruity?
To me, it comes as no surprise. That is because I have known Gypsies, now rightfully called Roma all my life. I know that to a Roma, children are God’s greatest gift, a gift to be nurtured and cherished. Even in Kosovo, where survival was from one day to the next, with nights full of threat, the children were watched over and protected above all.
These children, now chased from Free United Europe, like all children, deserve a better future, a future of equality at last. A six hundred years presence should guarantee them the same rights as other Europeans.
Help the Roma and their children. It will create a better world for all of us.