With the international day of Roma, the 8th of April coming closer, the holiday could not be better celebrated than to be in a community and to hear the community. In order for the observation to be different a non-Roma was among Roma in Roma settlement Sredorek in Kumanovo. We met them at all ages, social statuses, with different views on same topics…
For a long time we have thought how to mark the international day of Roma, the 8th of April. For histories, processes in the past, analyzes of the future, reviews of the present of Roma it was already written and it is still to be written. What made us mark this day differently was the way of finding out the answer of the questions: “How Roma people actually live, and what have they gained in practice from the processes started by countries signatory of the Decade for Roma inclusion, among which Macedonia? Did the country really do something for them, were the local authorities among Roma people to see in which conditions they live and with how much money do they survive?”
With the international day of Roma coming closer, the holiday could not be better celebrated than to be in a community and to hear the community.
In order for the observation to be different a non-Roma was among Roma in Roma neighborhood Sredorek in Kumanovo. We entered their homes, their courts, working places. We drank coffee, juice, water, chat a little, and heard some Roma music. We wished good day at arrival, good health at departure. We met them at all ages, social statuses, with different views on same topics…
– Roma are forgotten, they are put last on the list. Except for the elections, no one has ever come here to see how we live, says one citizen from the settlement.
– Nobody cares about the Roma. We are like a ball being kicked to many times, says a co-citizen.
In Sredorek we spoke to men and women, elder and young, employed, unemployed, pensioners, state benefit users. Rare are the ones who have salaries according to the average in the Republic of Macedonia (average gross salary in the country in January 2012 according to the State Statistic Office was 30 591 denars).
The others with whom we spoke live at the edge of poverty, with 1400 to 5000 denars per family. In most of the cases only one family member earns for life. And several generations live in one home. A great number of Roma families don’t have anything to live from, so they have to find way, mostly collecting plastic bottles and selling them. That way they can mostly earn 500-600 denars. The usual daily earnings are 200-300 denars. Although life is hard for many of them it seems that nothing can break their spirit.
-Only one is God. Sometimes it is better, and others worse, but at least we help each other’s in the community, say in Sredorek.
They feel extremely loyal towards the Republic of Macedonia.
– I am very sorry, I live in the Republic of Macedonia, I’m a citizen of the Republic of Macedonia, but I can’t pay the debts towards the country. I don’t have where to take from to pay the electricity, water and communal fees. The electricity is often cut off but we don’t have where to complain, so we connected to the electricity network ourselves. I must say that says 48-year old S.I. and adds:
– Members of Parliament, the Prime Minister, Ministers and even the President of the country should take more care for social cases, they should know that nobody can live with 1800-2000 denars and pay all the debts to the country at the same time. We want to pay, we are not against the country, we don’t want a special country, and we are very calm people.
But they either don’t get anything or get very little back. They say that the local authorities, as well as representatives from political parties come in the settlement only for the elections when they need to mobilize the voters. But people from Sredorek announce that next time things won’t be so “smooth”. Here’s why:
-We cannot build the mosque in the settlement. We started building it and they said that the location was not urbanized, so they are going to demolish it. Why shouldn’t we Roma have a mosque here when we have the right to it? asks a citizen of the settlement.
Most of the people we spoke to do not believe in the media because as they say they inform about the Roma only when they have to make a story about poverty, in order to present Roma negatively, or lately to create the picture that every Roma seeks asylum in order to leave Macedonia. It is time as they say to open a medium in Roma language.
These are testimonies of Roma and a picture of their everyday life. Their demands are modest, they are open in their attitudes, ready to help… like that they will stay engraved in the memory of a non-Roma who spent a day with Roma. But he won’t stay just a day. As the international day of Roma, the 8 th of April is coming closer it shouldn’t be just a day that Europe and the world will remember that Roma are the biggest ethnic community. Days should be used to do something real for the Roma community. Let’s make ourselves tasks to make results until next 8th April. And to find pleasure among citizen of Sredorek.
State Statistic Office
There are 30,9% poor people in Macedonia
The percentage of poor people in 2010 was 30,9%, as statistic data shows. Analyzed in profiles, most vulnerable are households with more members having in mind that 47,3%of the poor live in households with five or more members. The poverty rate among unemployed is 41,8%, or 44,8% of all poor people are unemployed. The education of the head of the household also influences the number of poor people. Total of 54,7% of the poor people live in households in which the head of the household didn’t finish or mostly finished elementary education.
According to the definition of the Office the poverty line is defined as the level of living standard which should be reached for a person or household not to be classified as poor. The relative poverty line is a relative standard of survival determined as the necessary level of expenditures. Based on the determined levels of the poverty line the percentage of persons whose expenditures are under the level of 70% was calculated.