The Roma People, Rhodes

In the Summer of 2006, I spent a lot of time alongside the Roma whilst I was working in Rhodes in a Chinese Restaurant. In order to understand them, I spent a lot of time talking to them in Greek, as it was our only common language. Maria, who was the same age as me, became one of my close friends and they seemed to appreciate that I was treating them as equals and they reciprocated in the same way. As most nations have done, Greek society has also rejected the Tsigganoi (gypsies) and they are treated lower than the Albanians who live there. Many of them are children who lost their child-hood for begging on the streets to feed their brothers and sisters and parents. The gypsies come out every day at 6 to sell roses and toys to Tourists who may give them enough money to feed themselves that day and a few pennies to save for those who have rent to pay. Others live in caravans. Maria always told of her dreams to marry an Italian man who she had fallen in love with but she is now married to another Roma, whom her parents chose. Though only 19, her dreams of life have disappeared already as she has already become a Mother herself. Her worries will now be how to feed her daughter. All these children have no dreams, they will just follow in their parents foot-steps until their own children are old enough to beg on the streets for them. Throughout the world, gypsies are disliked, simply for the fact that they don’t have a stable home. But I saw a different side to these people when I lives alongside them. They accepted me because I treated them as friends, as fellow human beings, not as ‘scum’ on the street. They even shared the little food they had with me.


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