March 1, 2018

The many faces of the Roma People in Macedonia - H.E.R.A Organization

One of the amazing jobs that the HERA Paralegals do is go from home to home, on foot, offering advice and assistance to Roma families.  In the above photo, a little Roma boy sat on the floor looking up at his mom, sad & scared, as she was explaining to the HERA Paralegals her troubles with getting healthcare for his brother with epilepsy.   All while his siblings in the window are happy just to have visitors.  

The stark contrast in the photo below to the one above, reaffirmed my belief that there are no coincidences.  If you notice the boy below is the same as the boy in the photo above, except his face is that of an adult and his exterior seems tough as nails as he walks around Shuto Orizari alone.  He was on a mission that day to find food or money for his family and new he needed to leave his little kid persona behind and act like a "man".  To see these two sides of the same little boy was eye-opening as to the pressure that society puts on these children because of false narratives is unbelievable.
 A Roma Child from Shuto Orizari was fighting a serious cold with a smile on his face.  This is the norm for Roma children and their families who are consistently denied healthcare due to their culture.  Just imagine what these children could do if they were kept healthy, were educated and treated as equals.
 This little girl and her mom are walking by the location where she should have been attending Kindergarten.  In March of 2017 the only facility like this in the municipality burnt down, taking away a place for hundreds of children to be educated.  Promises of a rebuild were talked about in early 2018 but nothing has started yet.  More information can be found here.
 Due to the lack of schooling, one of the jobs that a Roma person can find is in textiles.  This woman is working well into her old age to sell blankets and rugs for a very reasonable cost.  In speaking to the locals, the majority of the people who buy their goods are the same ones who discriminate against them in the rest of the country.  

 The hands of this middle aged man built a home for his family brick by brick.  After years and years of being turned down for permanent jobs because he is Roma, he has given up on his life and now hopes for his children.  He managed to work physical labor whenever he could and made the best for his family.  His daughter who absolutely worships her father who has built this wonderful home for her despite the fact his culture has kept him out of work.  He hopes one day she will be able to live out her dreams.  
The Goddess of Shuto Orizari as she enters in the homeless shelter she runs!!!  Ljatife Shikovska is loved by all Roma people she has come in contact with.  A Roma women herself, she understands the hardships of discrimination.  Through her organization Ambrela she is able to assist the Roma Community in getting their documents, fair & equal healthcare
 Roma women and their children sometimes resort to begging for money in the streets of Skopje, Macedonia.  Discrimination makes it very difficult for them to be educated & find employment.  These women do not want to do this, however; they will do whatever they need to in order to feed their children.  
A Roma couple from Crnik who battles daily with Emina’s Sclerosis.  Without health care there is not much living they will do out of their apartment.  They were happy to have visitors outside of their family.  
 This sweetest 77 year old Roma women is isolated to her small home to live out her final days.  She had broken her shoulder due to a fall & because of the healthcare received or lack thereof, she has no use of her arm and is scared to leave her home.  She knows she could get injured and this time it may cost her life.  The Roma Communities are often dirt roads, broken concrete and not safe for the elderly to walk around in.  
We nicknamed him the Roma Storyteller because even though he has had an incredibly hard life, he was so open with us and told us his life story with such passion.  He came from Serbia to help his parents who have passed & he cannot seem to catch a break.  His wall told the story of his lonely life with one single family photo on his wall.  Although he is not in need of typical healthcare services, mental & emotional healthcare could have gone a long way in healing his broken family. 
These girls of Shuto Orizari are enthusiastically getting ready for the wedding that is about to happen.  Although their living conditions are not optimal this does not stop this community from celebrating life & love.  This young Roma girl was admiring the dress as a Roma Women was trying on dresses for the wedding.  This young Roma girl was admiring the dress as a Roma Women was trying on dresses for the wedding. 

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