The epitome of misery- Bettina Rostás
The epitome of misery
As the end of our Belgrade trip approached; fighting against the heat, the exhaustion, and the tiredness, we started our research for the city’s Roma communities. We were successful at that, as we found two Roma settlements; however, the sight that awaited us there was beyond the worst horrors one can imagine.
With the help of Sebijan Fejzula – colleague of the Romedia Foundation –, after having said our farewells at the International Media Youth Summit, we gathered information on how to get to the Roma settlements in the proximity of the city. After dinner, we got into a cab, and the driver took us to the given address.
As we got out of the cab, it smelled of manure. There were small children running around whose parents were quite young. We wanted to do an interview at the first house, but the two older women were already unhappy with our arrival, and they didn’t want to co-operate, they sent us away. Disappointed but still full of hope, we tried our chance at the next house. Here they even allowed us to take out our cameras.
The head of the family, who gave his permission for the shooting, also gave us an interview. He told us that the Serbian Roma families don’t get any support from anyone, not even from the municipality; they have to rely completely on themselves. They have very few work opportunities, because no one wants to employ the Gypsies. As we were talking, you could see the sadness on the old man’s face. One could tell that he had lived a hard and miserable life. His only joy where his grandchildren, who were playing around him even during the shooting.
One of the women from the community told us that there was another settlement not far from theirs with worse living circumstances. After a short discussion, we decided to visit the other settlement as well and if possible, take some pictures and conduct interviews. We thought it was important to show how Roma communities are neglected. One of the women showed us the way to the other settlement.
As for the living circumstances, she was right. Here, we didn’t even see brick buildings; only huts made out of paper and wood. It was a horrible sight. Despite the August heat, I felt a chill running through my body. While at the first settlement smelled of manure; here our nostrils were filled with the smell of carrion and decomposing garbage. This was the epitome of misery!
As we got to the huts, I felt bitter and hopeless. The poverty of the place was unbelievable.
A middle-aged woman greeted us, and invited us in to her courtyard after we had told her who we were and why we were there. She told us how miserably the living conditions are for her and her children, her mother and her brother; and that her husband had left them. She also said it was impossible to find a job, and that they didn’t benefit from any support.
After we finished the interview, I couldn’t utter a word. I was gravely shocked and disappointed. It is sad how people can be so unmerciful to one another. I was very angry, and I felt that I had to do something after this horrible experience. I must write it down so that I can tell everyone: the oppression of Roma people is getting worse!
Since then, I have reevaluated some things. I now look at the world differently. I appreciate the good more consciously, and I condemn the oppressor!
Bettina Rostás (22)