Roma Girl

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.

A Gypsiemobile cruising by with a load of cardboard.
A "Gypsiemobile" cruising by with a load of cardboard.

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.

Main Street on the Gazelle Bridge Roma Settlement
Main Street on the Gazelle Bridge Roma Settlement

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.

Typical House in the Gazelle Bridge Settlement
Typical House in the Gazelle Bridge Settlement

5 thoughts on “Roma Girl

  • I Don’t think you know the whole story… you should watch the movie Black Cat White Cat by Serbian producer. They do terrible things to their own children…. blind them… cut off their hands etc. The people who go to ” work” from their communities are ” banded” and excommunicated.

  • It’s the first time I really comment on a blog…

    I just want to give a little input. I was born and raised as a gypsy, speaking the gypsy dialect and having the custom traditions, however, my mother is not gypsy. I lived with my gypsy family in Ecuador for almost five years of my life. There is a lot of discrimination seen towards gypsies in Europe; however, this is not true for gypsies in other parts of the world. Yes, they might be different or just simply not ordinary to society’s ways. But they are all not brutal. One of the main problems that I have seen in the gypsy culture in Ecuador, Colombia, and the U.S. is the lack and opposition of parents to their kids towards achieving an education. I literally wrote for one of the essays for my college application that I am one of the first “gypsy” or the first gypsy to go to college and want to achieve having an educational success.

    • The Roma are like the Aborigines of Australia in that their cultural values don’t match modern society. The value of an education in a knowledge-based society is not a priority for the Roma or working in a 9-to-5 job and developing a career in a profession over many years. I don’t know how you get them to value this.

  • I was reading on wikipedia about Hitler and the holocaust when I saw one picture of a group of Roma’s all men and small boys waiting for their turn to die. A very painful one! Did a few researches on the net about them and found that they have been cleansed or persecuted since ancient times. I have my sympathies to all who lost their lives during the holocaust but thankfully for the jews it is only a memory. But for the Roma it is a story in motion continually being re-enacted every day.

    It is not hard to think, for a community to not trust if they have been subjected to persecution for such a long time. Hence their decision to not work.I just hope and wish that the government of countries where they belong would be a bit more sympathetic to their needs. Lets all hope for the best after all they are also humans and deserve a right to live well.

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