This beautiful little girl was begging on the side of the road a few weeks ago. Our taxi was stopped in traffic on the entrance ramp to the bridge that spans the Sava River here in Belgrade. She came up to our car and so we gave her some coins. Broke my heart to see such a lovely child living in such horrible conditions.
She is a member of the Romani people, otherwise known as gypsies. There is a settlement of around 400 families that lives near the Gazelle Bridge. We see them as we go to and from New Belgrade to our suburb of Senjak. The Romani of Serbia are known as “Machvaya” and they are quite numerous here. You see them often collecting card board and garbage from the receptacles in the streets. They eek out a living by collecting refuse and recycling it.
The settlement under the bridge has been there for decades. As you can see from the photo below, they live in absolutely horrendous conditions. I just imagine what it will be like in the winter. There is an incredible amount of stuff they have collected. More Roma have recently come as there has been talk of the city government will relocate them and provide them with housing. The problem is no one want them as a neighbor. There are plans to renovate and expand the bridge, and the settlement will have to move. Although this has been planned for years.
The Roma are fascinating. I don’t understand why they cannot be helped and integrate into society. I really want to help them! They look different that the Latinos of South America and I am interested in learning more about them. You will probably see more posts in the future.