At the bus station in Zenica, there was a band of Roma children, begging from passengers. One small girl, perhaps 8, received about 7 KM from a passenger. I could see the large coin in her hand. She jumped up and down and screamed with delight. She ran to the other children to show off. But was she tough. This wasn’t an 8 year old but a 40 year old soul. Hardened.
The status of the Roma here is unclear. Most don’t have documents, and many Roma communities were destroyed in the war. The children don’t usually go to school- nothing available in their language. They live from begging and selling scraps. No access to health care. Poor diet leads to stunted growth. I did see, in Zenica, near the market, a Roma mother carefully combing and fixing her daughter’s hair. I do see the mothers caring for their children. I do see a group of women living out rough in the mountains. I see them survive.
I wonder a lot about the Roma. How would they fare given access to education? To health care? Would they reject it? Should the children be sent to school? In the states, we do have Travellers, who live this life. But they are less visible.
The status of the Roma are just another complicated situation here in BiH.