Last summer Small Steps Project started working on Pata Rat dump in Cluj, Transylvania, Romania. We delivered emergency aid and over 1000 pairs of boots, socks and gloves to the community living on and around the rubbish dump with the help of local NGO Pro Rroma.
Recently it has featured in the UK media, with very different views, so we thought we might take this opportunity to clear up some misconceptions about Roma people, specifically those living in freezing inhumane conditions on the Pata Rat Dump. Here is an article from The Ever Reliable Sun entitled ‘Roma Gypsies Heading for Britain‘. Should any of these people actually come to the UK, after being evicted from their homes and forced to live in toxic waste, they are greeted not with sympathy, but fear that they might steal our jobs.
Here is an article in The Independant entitled ‘The Truth about Romanian gypsies not coming over here stealing our jobs’. Having been to Pata Rat dump, it is fair to say that this article is far more accurate.
But instead of worrying about Romanian people coming to the UK, maybe we should be asking why? Maybe we could take a minute and imagine how or what you would do if your family and small children were woken in the night, evicted from your home and forced to live on a rubbish dump?
Almost half of the residents of the dump are children, labeling them gypsies does not change the fact that there are human children and pregnant woman being forced to live in toxic waste in freezing conditions in Europe in 2014.
What we need to be worrying about is not whether a small minority of these people might come to the UK but how this is allowed to happen in this day and age.
What SSP has seen on Pata Rat dump are conditions as bad as those in the poorest rubbish dumps in the developing world, including some of the worst in Cambodia.
We work with scavenger communities all over the world. All scavenger communities are people who have been outcast from their society. Whether a child on a rubbish dump is Cambodian or Roma Gypsy is of no consequence to us. What is important is that there are children living on rubbish dumps and that is unacceptable. It is not more acceptable if that child’s parents are Roma Gypsies.
Fortunately the reality is that the United Nations Development Program is in the middle of developing a strategy to help and reintegrate the roma community back into society. Next week SSP is meeting the UNDP in Cluj to look at how we can help by providing emergency aid and nursery provisions for children living on Pata Rat dump.
Whether you are a Sun reader who is worried about Roma people coming over here, or you are an Indepedent reader who is shocked at what is happening to these people, instead of talking about them as if they are a threat, maybe try feeling some empathy and looking at all the many many groups of people who have been persecuted in the past. We look back and say – how could we let that happen? Well we are letting it happen now.
For more information on our work on Pata Rat dump here is the Romania Project page.