My missed encounter with Roma people

- Blog | Mara Epifani

Imagine two dogs, they don’t know each other. If they are let to come together, they may become friends. If the leash keeps them apart, most likely they will bark respectively as they are pulled away, until they are so far that they cannot even see each other.

My missed encounter:

The first time I saw some Roma people, I was in primary school. I remember seeing a van that used to bring young Romani children back to their settlement near the school. I used to look at them through the window of my classroom.

“Who are they?”, I thought. “What is their story? Are there some new friends to meet?”, and I looked forward to welcoming them in my classroom.

However, none of the children on the bus ever got off, they couldn’t come and spend the morning in our classroom or play with us; they were always brought back to the camp.

We looked at each other in different ways through the windows, sharing curious and investigative looks. Some smiled and made funny gestures but at the end we didn’t meet each other.

My hope to welcome them in my classroom and to get to know them remained unfulfilled, and the looks we shared stayed in my mind while the lessons carried on.

Roma in Rome Today:

Where I live, Roma people are often blamed for their alleged misbehavior: making them all guilty of thefts, pick pocketing etc. Or in other cases, people complain against ‘the immigrants’, seeming to forget that many Italian Romani groups have been living in Italy for a long time.

The contacts between the Romani communities and the rest of society are reduced to the minimum. It is like two different ways of living running in parallel, they hardly meet or even notice each other.

A new chance:

I want to change this! So, here I am now joining REYN. Ready for a real encounter with Roma people.
I am happy to offer my contribution to end Roma segregation and to support quality education for Roma and Traveller children.

Let us untie the leash of prejudice that keeps us away and let us welcome each other’s cultures.

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