I have been working in a Day Care Centre located in Shutka for a month now and I have learned a lot. I am working with children from 4 to 18 years old and the Day Care Centre is doing their best to give opportunities for the children so they could have a better life.
Before coming here, I did not know much about Roma community, street children nor Macedonia. I had heard something about Roma’s and gypsies but mostly negative things. They are often referred to as poor people, who do not have their own country and are always begging on the streets. I remember being told to watch out because their hygiene is not the best and they are also good at pick pocketing. Considering all of that, the children, at least, might actually have a lot more than we do. They know how to be happy with what they have, the clothes and looks are not that important, it is more about personalities, while still enjoying luxury, nobility and everything that shines, whenever there is a possibility. Roma’s have also managed to maintain their culture and traditions even without a certain location. All they need is themselves. Wherever they go they bring their grace and beliefs with them. A brave nation with a deep desire to live.
Working with Roma children is like sailing the sea. One can never know what to expect from the day, meanwhile still being able to be flexible and survive in a way, to make everyone happy by the end of the day. The children are full of energy and their love for life is bigger than what I have seen before. They really know how to play with life and enjoy every second of it. The kids are like fish in the sea, always knowing how to sneak away from troubles, at the same time making me wonder how they have survived so long, since their games and other free time activities, like climbing the highest walls, for example, can be really dangerous. I guess, they are like cats – always falling on their feet. While not having all the modern amenities, have the children come up with all kind of different activities. The whole world is their playground.
In my eyes, it is impossible not to love them, starting with their amazing eyes already. Besides the physical beauty, they have souls made out of music. Whenever there is a moment where one can sing or play some rhythms with whatever they have in their hands in the given moment, they are always ready to compose some new songs. They have that big and powerful energy coming from inside and they are never too shy to express it. Another thing I have noticed is that they are born survivors. Always ready to fight for themselves and for their rights, meanwhile still sharing their food with their friends, maybe not even knowing when will be their next meal. Once, having won their hearts, they can be the most loyal people. They always have your back and are ready to help you, but when betraying them, I would say nobody would like Roma’s as their enemies.
For me, they are like any other children – full of energy, always ready to play and whenever I look at them, they have big smiles on their faces, while enjoying their lives. What is different, are the questions they ask. Sometimes when they are tired of studying, they start asking me questions. After the basic ‘’what is your name’’ and ‘’how old are you’’ questions, they start asking about family and home. ‘’Do you have a mother?’’ ‘’But what about father?’’ ‘’Do you have a home?’’ are the most common and these kind of questions are heartbreaking.
Working with street children can be challenging, but for me it also means a day full of love and happiness. Sometimes they fight and have arguments but in their sweet moments they always share the best hugs and every working day ends and starts also with a big hug-sharing.