“They should send their kids to school”…When racists talk to you about their God sent inspiration on what Romani should do to please the majority of the population, you either get that or something even worse – “they shouldn’t have so many kids”.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, most of the Romanians where peasants, fighting and, a lot of times, dying for a piece of land. My grandfather had four children. Just like him, most of the Romanians had many kids.
If we consider the lack of medication and the effects of both World Wars, we have to admit that we are here today only because our grandparents didn’t stop having kids, and did not resume to just fulfilling their ploughing careers.
The Romanians where indeed peasants but not stupid, so they quickly realized, without the help of any NGO’s that it’s not a bad idea to send the kids to school. But sending kids to school is not an easy job and it doesn’t come cheap. Actually, if you think that many of them had to give up a cow or a piece of land, it was quite expensive. Because it was so expensive, most of them had to evaluate their offsprings and send to school only the smartest of them. The rest had to wait. For many, their turn never came.
Now, one hundred years later, all sorts of NGO’s and international organizations, on a patronizing tone, preach about the importance of schooling to Romanians living below poverty line. Many of these Romanians are of Romani origin. Like our grandparents, Romani today are the only citizens in this country with many kids, sometimes five, eight or even more.
Most of these NGO’s representatives, with their full bellies and their squeamish nature to the sight of the poor conditions these people live in, spend just a few minutes passing down their wisdom and then they move on.
According to them, if you tell someone unemployed, hungry, without running water or electricity to send their eight children to school, you’ve done God’s work on this Earth and you can go home and be proud till you burst.
It puzzles me how we can’t learn from our past. Millions of Romanians don’t have theproper conditions to send one kid to school, not to mention eight. Unlike one hundred years ago, these people have nothing to sell, but more importantly the discrimination makes it impossible for many of them to find a decent job. Therefore, marginalization took an extreme toll on them and miss-shaped their life expectations.
When I look at Canuta’s kids going to school regularly it fills my heart with joy. For I know that we only need twenty years to change the destiny of this country for the better. When I know they go to school in the same clothes they slept in, it blows me away.
Without running water they bath now and then. In the winter they can’t read after four in the afternoon. To them, breakfast holds almost no meaning. Unless they have some leftovers from the night before or if you count the milk and the bread they get at school.
That milk and bread is the only social program I truly respect, many Romanians send their kids to school just because there they get something to eat. But that is not enough. Our kids, this nation’s future, need electricity, running water, clothing and school supplies.
We’ve exploited Romani for centuries. Our racism or, in the best cases, indifference put a gap between Romani and non-Romani that will soon threaten our own existence.
We are losing precious time debating whether to call them Romani or gypsies. We believe that if we call them gypsies and blame them for all the wrongs in this country we will be beyond moral scrutiny.
I am amazed how in a country where we all pray for our neighbor’s goat to die as well, we all look for scapegoats. We are still victims of communist mentalities. We still want to believe that we live in a country free of homosexuals, sex workers and drug addicts. Now, by leading the Romani to declare themselves non-Romani during population census we prefer to lie to ourselves rather than face the truth. The truth is that in probably less than one hundred years from now, the Romani will represent the majority of the population in this country. So the question is not if education will benefit the Romani, but if we like to live in a country where the majority of the population is educated or, on the contrary, not educated.
I would love to see the day we realise that we have to start paying for our mistakes. The sooner we realize that, the better. For the price increases with time.
The Romani need no convincing that school is important for their future kids. They need support. For 62 years we only talked about integration and look where that got us. We, as a nation, have to admit failure and start paying for our mistakes. It’s time we learn discrimination and indifference doesn’t come cheap.
I am talking about this price we have to pay and I am afraid many of you might think I am just talking about ‘mea culpa’/my bad. I hate to break it to you, but I am talking about money.
Let me give you an example: in each house there is a kid we want in school very much, but there should be one light bulb we all pay for. And make the parents responsible for the help they get.
We failed many generations of Romani, or the mature ones is little we can still do.
Let’s not wait and waste another generation.
Let’s pick up the check and change our future for the better.