By Zoe Norman (written when 36,000 feet in the air between Albania and the UK!)
You heard about the Romani people; the nameless whose lives are filled with the whispers of hostility and prejudice, peoples eyes skim past them looking the other way. They are unrecognisable faces weaving in and out of colourful bustling crowds at market stalls in Albania where food crackers and laughing carries into the night air, a place filled with excitement and friendship.
Theirs? A story of overbearing loneliness filled with tales of discrimination, abuse and hurt.
You watch the scene, little children with dirty flip-flops and battled teeshirts run in-between cars trying to get money by playing music. They start to chase each other laughing down the dusty road, a small moment of hopeful joy caught in a timeless society where they are shunned at every doorstep. This is all despite the fact you see no difference in their appearance from anyone else , enchanted you look further peering to watch a young women washing car windscreens.
Her body aches with tension as she leans in the sizzling oppressive heat working tirelessly, not even stoping to wipe the forming sweat from her brow.
All this effort is for a mere 40 leke (40 pence) which she receives carelessly as it is shoved at her by the driver, but, as if by magic at this simple gesture, her entire facial face changes. She looks ecstatic as her face turns upwards towards the sky filled with a moment of untouchable joy, for a second she is a person of dignity and purpose. You can not help but give in to the small sad smile playing on your lips as the traffic lurches forward coughing and spluttering as the scene flashes away.
The Roma population in Albania is estimated to be between 60,000 and 10,000 people with a poverty rate of 78%quickly bringing the terrible statistic to light. These people are like us but face a life of discrimination, cast out of work just because of birth and forced to beg on the hot dusty pavement; swarmed by the mass of people towering over them. For all TCK’s it is distressing to say the least, incomprehensible that a single nationality can determine a future which humans have no say in.
Albania has a longways to go for the Roma but on a brighter note slowly but surely this is happening.
As my friend said “we have to live in the moment, be thankful for what we have; as life may be pulled from under our feet” We need to support organisations as global citizens who help the Roma ( http://theideaspartnership.org/wp/) for a brighter, happier and more tolerant future for all.