Made up of people groups known as Roma or Gypsies, they find themselves stigmatised and excluded from the rest of society. The feelings run deep as one Romanian we met simply expressed the prejudice as “we hate them.” It’s difficult to see how Europe’s largest ethnic minority group, who make up 12 million of the population, can be so marginalised and cut out from access to education, employment and health care.
While the team were there the city government went ahead with the long-time threatened closure of the dump, leaving these communities with even less prospects for generating an income.
Sarah Patel who co-led the project shares about the change in atmosphere from one week the next;
“The first week we were there it was quiet in the community during the day as most of the men and teenagers were out on the rubbish dump sifting through the recent drop-offs. Every truck that went past would have a couple of opportunistic guys hanging off the back ready to pounce when the waste is unloaded.
“The day after the closure there was a hustle of activity in the huts and muddy tracks of the village, better described as a slum, affectionately called Dallas by its residents. We could see a sense of desperation and hopelessness in their faces.”
When it comes to defining poverty we often think in terms of the obvious material needs, however it was a lack of purpose that they were experiencing. It is clear that a whole life understanding of poverty helps us to recognise the importance of dignity and confidence that employment brings.
GAiN will continue to partner and support the work of the local NGOs working with these communities