#InternationalRomaDay | Roma is the plural form of Rom. Rom is a synonym of (hu)man.

by Giorgos Tsitiridis, Project Coordinator of Roma projects, Northern Greece, SolidarityNow

Roma is the plural form of Rom.

Rom is a synonym of (hu)man.

April 8, the International Roma Day, is a day of celebration for the world’s gypsies in commemoration of their First World Congress, held in London on April 8, 1971, which set the foundation for claiming rights by the international community. There, representatives of 14 countries chose the name Rom (singular of Roma) as the international name for Gypsies. The word Rom is synonymous with Dom, the word used by the Indians for “man”.

They also set up five committees to deal with the main issues: education, housing, language, culture and civilization.

Greek Roma do not recognize themselves as a minority and call themselves Greek Gypsies. Nevertheless, April 8 is celebrated not to highlight the diversity, but to project the issues that concern the Roma, the history, the culture, the civilization, and their contribution to Greek society. 50 years after the London conference, we are at a critical point with many difficulties, but at the same time with lots of opportunities so as to solve chronic problems regarding the Roma in Greece.

Following the announcement of the new National Roma Strategy 2021-2030 by the Secretary General for Social Solidarity and Fight Against Poverty of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs Mr. George Stamatis, we are all called to help end stereotypes which for years recreate suspicion, fear, inequality and strive for the effective social inclusion of all Roma without discrimination.

SolidarityNow through its Solidarity Centers in Athens and Thessaloniki has offered its services to many of Roma who needed it. At the same time, through collaborations with associations, centers and communities, SolidarityNow has been present and has implemented programs for young Roma, women and children.

For example, the cooperation of SolidarityNow with the Katerini Community Center and the Roma branch, from December 2021 must be mentioned. Initially, the cooperation took place in the framework of the program “MAMA: Postnatal Care and Support” regarding the implementation of informative activities on child nutrition, women’s health, parenthood, pregnancy. Subsequently, as a result of the warm response of the interested parties, a collaboration was established that continues to this day, with the presence of the SolidarityNow team in the settlement of Pelekas.

Moreover, SolidarityNow participates in the National Partnership of the Roma Civil Monitor 2021-2025 coordinated by the Roma Women Association of Dendropotamos. The aim of this Partnership is the monitoring of the National Strategy and its harmonization to the European strategy.

At a time when Europe’s borders are often hostile to people in need, the Roma and their wanderings on the European continent teach us that barriers, conditions and conventions can be bypassed or even better, evolve, according to the people’s needs and global social changes. The special conditions for the Roma, who are a historically nomadic people, is that they always become more vulnerable in times of unrest, war, refugee waves. In fact, they are almost always the first victims of such tragic historical events, experiencing torture and persecution.

SolidarityNow supports the efforts for the integration of Roma into the Greek society, but also creates interventions at the local level, with the long-term goal of changing the attitude of the host populations and presenting ways of harmonious coexistence with respect for diversity, which can ultimately offer mutual benefits for all parts. After all, history teaches us and the current conditions confirm it, that the differences based on dialogue and equality are the ones that develop us both as individuals and as societies.