You have to get up in the morning and go back and go on working with them

Author: Workshop V
Location: EastWest Institute – Prague
Helena JavurkovaCoordinatorThe Stories Exchange Project
The Drom Center in Brno, the Romany social and cultural center, is very active. But I also understand that people complain about what Drom is doing. For people who work for Drom it must be frustrating, because they try to do something and they’re alwaysbeing criticized, by people who don’t seem to be dong anything themselves. My sense of it is that there should really be more community involvement. People complain and their complaints may be justified, but they don’t want to be involved themselves, to contribute. That was my sense of it when I was there, but I’m still an outsider.
Zuzana GaborovaLocal Project Coordinator, Stories Exchange ProjectLegal and Social Adviser, Drom CenterBrno
What you say is true.
The families there are very closed. They don’t cooperate. They don’t tell you what they think. They don’t tell anybody what they think.
I know this well from my own experience.
For example, when we were celebrating International Romany Day they told us that they would bring over some meat, some drinks for kids, and so forth.
On the day we had music ready, we had everything ready.
But people did not come down to the courtyard. They watched us from their balconies: they wouldn’t come and join us.
They didn’t bring the meat they promised.
They didn’t bring the drinks they promised.
It’s not because they don’t like us. It’s just that they do not loosen up when we’re there.
We’re a kind of institution: we’re Drom Center personnel and they won’t loosen up. They’re families with many members and they keep to themselves.
On the other hand, there’s a lot of rivalry among them. And when a family does something wrong to another family they don’t go to them: they come to us and start yelling at us about that family breaking their window.
Eva BajgerovaRomany Adviser to the Regional GovernmentUsti nad Labem
What Zuzka has said is also very true for Maticni Street in Usti – where last year the Czechs built a wall between themselves and the Roms.
The Roms there keep very much to themselves but they expect a lot from you. Throughout the country peoplereally do not trust any kind of organizations – but they don’t trust their neighbors either.
Anything you do for them is wrong. Anything you do for them is actually not for them.
Anything you do, you’re actually doing for yourself.
And so anything they do they also do for themselves.
They keep criticizing you. They never stop criticizing you.
But we shouldn’t be afraid of talking about it: we should open this subject.
And we should prepare then to put up with a lot of criticism, because as soon as we start talking openly about them they’ll start criticizing us.
And they do bother their neighbors.
I tell people, ‘don’t behave this way because you’re really bothering your neighbors.’
And they start yelling at me: they start calling me names. They call me a whore and whatever – you know. It’s very hard to talk with some of these people. You try to help and they yell at you, and you cry and you don’t want to do anything any more.
But you have to get up in the morning and go back and go on working with them.Because if you just walk away, you’ll just confirm what they feel: thateverybody is bad.

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