In Tirana the Roma kids are unavoidable- they spend their days on the street corners, begging for whatever measly offerings they can get. They are treated worse than animals by most people. I have witnessed them being shoved away and once I saw a large man jump out of his SUV, and chase and slap the tiny little girl who dared to ask him for a few coins. I'm still angry with myself for not jumping out of my own car and slapping him.
People claim they are annoying. I don't see it that way, and neither does P. Everyone, yes each one of us, started life as a tiny perfect baby. Our mothers counted our toes and blew kisses on our tummies. From dust to dust, ashes to ashes. We all begin and end the same way. These Roma children are born to their parents and that is simply their life. What else are they to do?
So instead of ignoring their dirty faces and wild hair when they knock on our windows, we treat them with the respect they deserve. We roll down our windows, we ask their names, we touch their babies fingers. They are human beings, just like us, and we are just like them. All is one in this world.
Recently there was a campaign in Tirana to get people to stop giving the Roma money, which in turn was supposed to make them get off the streets because it wasn't worthwhile. That campaign obviously hasn't worked since there are more now than there were before. I'd like to see them off the streets too- in school, in training, doing something that would give them a better way to earn a living. But how? I am faced with this question everyday. I have no idea how to help. For now, we always have something in our car, some candy, some little treats. We bring some toys and clothes for their new babies. And on the weekends we often bring them a family picnic- pizzas and cokes -enough for the whole family. It's not much but it's something.
I've always been a firm believer in following my heart. It never lies to me. Our feelings are far closer to 'truth' than our words or actions are, and by listening to them we almost certainly do the right thing. There's a catchy phrase that some Christians use when faced with decisions- "What would Jesus do?", not a bad way to make choices of course, but I have another phrase that I prefer to use- "What would Love do?" I find that in following the answer to that question I invariably do the right thing.