ROMA-NET is an URBACT project led by Budapest which focuses on the integration of Roma populations. On the occasion of the International Roma Day, we asked some of our Roma-Net partner Local Support Group members about their views on this Roma Day. We thought – it was our personal prejudice – there would be pessimistic, apathic reactions. We were wrong to think so. There are a lot of synergic, developing, optimistic thoughts from our Local Support Group members besides the feeling of beeing discriminated and excluded. Here is a short cut selection of the answers:
“I think that the International Roma Day is a very important event as strong and efficient presence is vital for the Roma community.”
“In fact nobody ever treated the Roma issue according to its seriousness. Even these days the main motivation for politicians to act is the fear from the future as they cannot even envisage the consequences of poor living conditions and underdevelopment.”
“The Hungarian Parliament unanimously approved the motions for decision to improve the situation of the Roma community. We should make more efforts now in our close neighbourhood to convince those still having reservations that time has arrived to act, enough of promises. Each voice should be heard and best solutions chosen.”
“Providing financial means is not enough, it is only ‘fire-fighting’. Extended participation and voting rights should be granted to Roma intellectuals, to enable them to show the way out of poverty and to build an integrated and satisfied Roma community.”
” I would like to tell you what does being Roma mean to me. First of all I am Hungarian, a Hungarian citizen, I have learnt poems of Sándor Petőfi like all the other children. Being Roma is a plus to me, I have one culture more and I am proud of myself, my friends and my family, it is an integral part of my every day life – I find it important to be aware of my identity.”
“I have mixed feelings about the International Roma Day. On one hand it is a good thing that there is a day when Roma are in the centre of attention. On the other hand, we are the same as the non Roma, ordinary Hungarians living around – why is the distinction?”
“What does it mean to me?
A so far not fully exploited opportunity to acknowledge what we have (no matter how)…
An urging opportunity to show the reality, emerging and worth making dreams and talents instead of the badly presented, distorted picture… to the others…. to really see………. to anybody who have queries …. an opportunity for joint celebration and for regaining self-esteem.”
All left for us is to thank for all the contributions and to wish that every day of the year should be a Roma day with equal opportunities, still having this one day to celebrate the many contributions of Roma to the historical and cultural development of Europe.
Gizella Mátyási, Attila Molnár
Roma-Net Lead Partner