Monday, August 26, 2013

Roma in Eastern Europe - Time Magazine

I am sharing a post from the blog of our Romany Team colleagues, Tanya and Jon Parks in Slovakia.  They offer two disclaimers for this Time Magazine article that I agree with.  The problems nor the solutions are simple and the discrimination is very real.

Monday, August 19, 2013

No Water for the Roma and Other Poor of Ozd, Hungary

8/26/13 Update:  The mayor was forced to turn the water back on.

Recently this article was forwarded to us and I read it with disbelief!  A mayor has cut off the water tap to the Roma section of the village because they are misusing it.  What?!?!  Hungary, like most of Eastern Europe is experiencing one of the hottest summers on record.  I agree with the article that this is a health and safety issue.  How can anyone in their right mind think it's OK to deny water to other human beings?  This mayor should be impeached or even better be forced to stand in the sun in the town center all day without a drop to drink.  I say cut off the water to his house!  Just another sad example of how the Roma are the scapegoats for the problems in the village.


Budapest, 6 August, 2013: The European Roma Rights Centre is calling on the Council of Ozd to immediately reconnect the public water supply in the town. On 3 August 2013, the council disconnected 27 pumps, which provided water to the town. Up to 500 families can no longer easily access safe clean drinking water. A further 62 taps have been severely limited by authorities, with the water pressure is so low that it takes several minutes to fill a 10-litre bottle. Roma and non-Roma are affected by the decision, as many people living in the area are too poor to have running water in their homes.
The Council made the original decision at the end of June, and did not inform the community - only putting the information online. The limitations started two weeks ago, during the height of the Hungarian summer when temperatures can reach uo to 40C (104F). According to media reports, the mayor said that the council could no longer afford the 50,000-EUR annual water bill from all of the pumps in the town, and specifically targeted Roma for ‘misusing’ the water supply. He did not provide any evidence to support this accusation.

No alternatives were provided to the individuals, who rely on the pumps for their supply of water. Local activists and supporters have been providing some drinking water to the community, but there is no water for people to wash themselves or their clothes, and this is not a sustainable solution. Currently there are just two taps which are operating, and both are situated more than 1.5 kilometres from Roma settlements.

“This is not just about the right to water, it is about the health and safety of Roma families who are forced to spend their days going back and forth to fetch water in extremely high temperatures. The Council is fully aware that many families do not have their own supply of running water. This is Europe in 2013 and this should not be happening,” said Dezideriu Gergely, Executive Director, European Roma Rights Centre.
The ERRC is deeply concerned by the Council’s actions, and is in touch with the local authorities to urge them to urgently reconnect the water. Many residents of this area are completely dependent on roadside water pumps to access safe drinking water. Cutting off the water supply at this time of year is dangerous and irresponsible.
Hungarian authorities have a responsibility under international human rights standards to ensure that individuals can access safe and clean drinking water. The ERRC is calling on Hungarian authorities to stop disconnecting the public water supply in areas where the public is dependent on public taps and roadside pumps.  
For further information, contact:
Sinan Gökçen
Media and Communications Officer
European Roma Rights Centre

© ERRC 2013. All rights reserved

Monday, August 12, 2013

Student.GO Why? 5 Reasons We Enthusiastically Participate!

As field personnel with CBF we have participated in the Student.GO program for several years.  This year was no exception.  We had three passionately dedicated young ladies who lived their calling and became the hands and feet of Jesus in Romania this summer.  Thank you Celia, Madison, and Nina.


5 Reasons We Enthusiastically Participate in CBF's Student.Go program:

·     To nurture the passion of young people for mission

·     To further their discernment of their calling

·     To marvel at the energy and creativity they bring to ministry
·     To share the joy of their impact on the lives of Roma children and youth

·    To see God molding their hearts as they become "world citizens"

Monday, August 5, 2013

A Sighting of Travelers

Roma Travelers
One of the misconceptions of Romany (often called Gypsies) in Eastern Europe is that they travel around the countryside.  While there are a few who continue this lifestyle, the largest majority were forced to settle during the communist era.  We have heard rumors of "travelers" in villages of Romania and recently witnessed them passing through the village of Stoborasti.  Imagine all your worldly goods in a wagon that resembles the Conestogas of the American west in the 1800's.  One enterprising Roma wife rigged a line down the side of their wagon and had her laundry hanging from it.  Pots and pans jangled from the sides and little curious faces poked out the end.  An older girl, perhaps the wife, with a baby on her hip was going from door to door begging for money.  We were told that in addition to begging, often the men will offer to sharpen knives or sell twig brooms they have made.  A little dog followed dutifully behind the wagon.  We saw one wagon stopped by a small stream and the women were busy washing clothes while little preschoolers splashed around.  (There is a definite delineation of men's work and women's work in the Roma culture).  It was fascinating to observe this nearly lost lifestyle.