This story is part of the #PlanetChampions project run by New Horizons Foundation (FNO), Romania. We publish the story with the FNO’s permission and with the support of Norsensus Mediaforum’s volunteers who translated the story for the SDGs Youth Media Allies project.
“First of all, I would like to introduce myself. My name is Lupu Ana Maria Regina, I am 17 years old and I am of Roma ethnicity. The topic I chose is closely related to personal experience, stories, things I saw and chose to talk about and try to present the problems that the Roma people face.
The chosen Sustainable Development objective is represented by SDG10 – Reduced Inequalities through which I want to present my own story, which means for me this culture and to overcome certain stereotypes that are attached to my ethnicity.
I believe that the minority group to which I belong and my personal life, as well as the school, have a strong correlation between them, as every ethnicity has to fight a daily struggle between prejudice and proving the contrary.
My experience as a Roma person is closely related to my childhood and also to my family. When I think of my cultural background and all this relentless journey that the Roma have had to take, from racism to unjust stereotypes to stigma, the way they have managed to handle this, it only makes me proud of my ethnicity.
I had the chance to meet many people of Roma ethnicity, different subgroups, dialects, but the thing that, regardless of traditions, way of life or dialect, was preserved, was the need to be with family, to love their families and to respect them.
Recently, on May 16, the Roma Resistance Day took place, which marks the grueling battle they fought for their culture and which, unfortunately, they still carry.
This day made me think about the majority behavior from that period, and according to people who went through the Holocaust, the Roma continued to be with their families, to help each other, and even to sing, which transposes their free and fearless soul into reality. 16 years marks much more than a simple memory, which, unfortunately, many want to forget, and I do not mean ethnics but others.
An example is that no sooner than April 15, 2015, the European Parliament acknowledged that Roma people were subjected to torture in the Genocide, and even if it insisted on creating an image that wanted to induce the fact that the Roma went through those things, not because of racism, but because of their deeds, (“Gypsies were persecuted under the National Socialist regime not for any racial reason, but because of an asocial and criminal record”), the Roma continue to prosper professionally, culturally and socially, and to break down prejudices.
As for the help offered to my ethnic group, generally, I believe that “doing good” does not have to take into account certain beliefs, but the moral principles of each individual, in the end, being all people, without prejudice, without racism, without doubts, fears or suspicions.
In these conditions in which we find ourselves, the help consists mostly in social media, in what we promote, and the enormous ways in which we could educate people regarding, not only the ethnic groups in Romania, also on other factors.
On the occasion of May 16, I was part of the initiative of some groups regarding this minority, through which I tried to present the way in which the Roma still resist the racism, stereotype, and stigma they face daily (Image no. 3).
I also believe that helping does not necessarily involve the physical presence of a person, so I donate to the Roma Education Fund, an organization that gives young Roma a chance for education.
Although I was asked by many people “Why”?, why I would choose to go this way, to help my community, knowing well the racism in Romania, I think the answer is more in the soul, and maybe the happiness felt when I know I can help my minority group, it exceeds any financial fulfillment.
Yes, I know it is a very long road that the Roma have ahead of them, and no, I don’t think it will end too soon, but I want to live with the thought that through my help, through the decision to speak, to get involved, I will make a change, I will motivate other people, and as we all know “Sar ora kharam” (Together we can / do).
Being part of a minority is certainly not the easiest thing, especially in terms of how it is viewed, but I choose to see beyond stereotypes, from dozens of subgroups, dialects, or traditions, to be Roma for me means family, love, faith, and courage.
The love that lasted in my father’s family, the way my grandmother managed to make sacrifices, the obstacles that stood in their way due to the fact that “they are Roma”, the fact that they were proud of this, kept their traditions and chose to talk in turn about the lived experience, it offers me today the opportunity to be proud of my Romanipen, to use my voice to help my culture.”
Translated to English: George-Alexandru Mureșan and Eduard-Emanuel Perdevară