She paid no attention to us

Author: Emile Kondasova
Location: Usti Nad Labem
I went to the welfare bureau with my pregnant daughter and her smallchildren. A woman there treated us very badly: she paid no attention to us.
I needed to file papers for a housing allowance, and my daughter wanted to take care of her maternity support and child allowances. When it was our turn to go in, the woman pushed us aside.
My daughter was due in two weeks.
The social worker told us she was not going to help us: she had no more time and we came too late. Though in fact they don’t take a lunch break until eleven thirty.
She didn’t take us, but she helped the Czech woman who was behind us in line. She was Czech and I’m Gypsy: that’s why we were passed over.
I told her that my kids had had no food since morning, that my daughter was pregnant and nauseous from hunger. I politely asked her to help us, and saidthat it was our turn, and that we were waiting since the morning.
She began to curse, and said that it was getting late and that she wouldnot help us because it was already eleven. We had been waiting since nine.
She started to call us names and grabbed me and threw me out of theoffice. I don’t know why she treated me like a stray dog. I don’t know what had happened to her, whether someone had hurt her or something. I just had to leave.
She called the security. I was so embarrassed that I began to cry.
A policeman showed up and threatened me. We started to argue. He told me that if I didn’t stop, he would take me to Litomerice. He wanted to slap meacross the face.
I left. But I went back: to the manager. She threw me out too; she said she was not interested in my problem.
I wanted to go even higher up, but didn’t know who that would be. Theycalled a secretary. But she told me I had to have an appointment.
I explained to her what had happened. She phoned the chief manager ofthe social services office. But through the phone I heard the chief manager say that the secretary should not let me talk to anyone.
I don’t know who to turn to if somethinglike this happens again.
StudentSchool of Social StudiesUsti nad Labem 19 March 2001
It’s a sad story, Roma are also people, and we should treat them equally. Some Roma are not disciplined, they make problems and they destroy state property. But they are certainly not all the same.
MiMi School of Social StudiesUsti nad Labem1 April 2001
Hi. I have nothing against you others, but you sometimes make up stories that are not true. It has happened to me that they said they didn’t shout but then they made a scene. So – no more lies from now on. I don’t mean it badly, it’s for the good of it.
StudentSchool of Social StudiesUsti nad Labem1 April 2001
We all think that Roma are also people and they have the same rights as other citizens and they shouldn’t be treated that way. There are Roma among us who do harm, but they are not all the same and they should be treated in a decent way, like other citizens. Some white people are sometimes even worse than Roma.
Lukas GuldnerSchool of Social StudiesUsti nad Labem1 April 2001
The fact that you had been fired when you were pregnant is regrettable, but the attitude of us white people towards you Gypsies is determined by how you treat us. And, realize, that mutual relation can be set right only when you adjust your behavior to middle European conditions.
Jitka a ManaSchool of Social StudiesUsti nad Labem2 April 2001
We think that clerks in offices elsewhere in the Czech Republic treat all the people in the same odd way. They don’t care what the color of skin of their clients is.
Jiri NovakSchool of Social StudiesUsti nad Labem2 April 2001
My mother works as a social worker but she treats people with other color of skin and Roma in a much different way than the social worker in this story. She always talks to them even if they come few minutes before the closing hours, even if it is not her duty or she tells them to come next day. I think that the attitude of social workers towards Roma [only to give an example] depends on what kind of person the social worker is I don’ t know anybody who would be present at every session and examine the attitude of social workers towards each of their clients.
ZdenaSchool of Social StudiesUsti nad Labem2 April 2001
What happened to you is very sad, but it is often you who are responsible. You were right to turn to your superior, but she treated you very badly. You are a human being too!

One Response to “She paid no attention to us”

  1. Many of people who responded say they are sympathetic, yet they use predjudice language.

    “Roma are also people,
    and we should treat them equally.” [So far nor biased]
    “Some Roma are not disciplined, they make
    problems and they destroy state property…”

    Now explain to me this, why are you feeding into stereotypes about the Romani?

    I mean, any persecuted group of individuals that has to consistently FIGHT for survival in a world that denies them any kind of integration are bound to show their resentment and dissatisfaction with the intolerance of their society.

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