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Printed 07.07.2022 10:07


As adults, the Roma care for their children, making sure they have enough to eat, and clothing and raising them. Accordingly, it was up to the head (man) of the family to see after the material security of the family, bringing money in however he could (wages from work, state social support, by fraud, etc.).

The life of the Roma settled in Slovakia was set in rural camps, which have survived to the present, particularily in Eastern Slovakia, where wooden cabins and huts of unfired bricks predominate. Before the Second World War, many lived in so-called "earthings," simple dwellings sunk into the ground. A house for a Rom isn't a home. If small children need to have their mother at home, Roma need to have their people, the whole extended family, at home. Among them, a Rom feels at home in even a wretched little hut. And a person has to learn to live in a house. Living in a house may seem simple to us, but the fact that it isn't so simple can be demonstrated with the Roma, when they suddenly found themselves in new apartments in housing estates. As part of the program to eliminate the Romani camps, large families were transported to flats in huge housing estates in the cities and towns, and had to start living with a different culture from day to day. The subsequent destruction of these flats by their Romani inhabitants, frequently featured in newspaper reports and anti-Roma diatribes, is the result of their attitude towards their "homes."

In these camps, there existed a man respected and honored by everyone, a chhibalo or vajda, who acted as a guardian of morality and order. He was often the master of ceremonies who presided over wedding, funerals and other events. With the disintegration of social bonds in the post-war period, his authority declined as well. The foundation of Romani society remains the family, and all activity of the adults is concerned with the security of the family, in the cities as in the villages and camps. There are great differences in wealth and ways of life among the Romani camps, but the residents of these camps are often more free than people in civilized places. Something is preserved in them which, in today's busy world where everyone is looking out mostly for themselves, we don't see.

There's an optical illusion at work in Czech towns and cities: it seems that there are more Roma than there really are. In comparison with other groups of people, the Roma spend much less of their time in their residences, and a lot more on the streets. In the summer months, life in a Romani encampment also takes place outside: women cook on stoves carried out in front of their homes, they carry tables outside as well and eat there, wash there, and hold various celebrations and parties outside. And outside is where one would hear various Romani songs: one mourning a mother's death or poverty, another lively, in the Csardas rhythm.

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