Thursday, December 08, 2005

from terrible to much better

These last few days have definately varied drastically.

Tuesdays are days I have come to dread. This is the day when people (Roma) can come to my boss' office with their questions and concerns. Questions are typically based around where a form needs to go, who they need to talk to, etc- Valia functions are an information center. But lately, people have been coming in with a recurring problem- their electricity bills. At first, it would be one person, a bit upset, hoping that Valia could help. Then, in the last couple of weeks, this number has increased dramatically, to the point that this tuesday, and entire community came into the office. Of course I can't understand all of what went on, but it seemed that people were getting mad at Valia. Since she's Roma, they were basically saying that she should be doing more to help them, and the help most of them wanted was not to pay their electricity bill at all. ever. THEN they demanded a meeting with the mayor and the municiple council, who consequencly enough, were all in sofia for a meeting. So it was this big, fat hairy day of lots and lots of yelling and some crying. And to make matters worse, Isai - Valia's husband- came up to the crowd of people and began saying that the Roma HAVE the money, they just don't want to PAY. Where he came up with this idea, I don't know...but it definately got people fired up.

I think the thing that makes me dread these days is seeing the hardships, and admitting that they are there. When I get my weekly dose of the reality of poverty facing the Roma, it sometimes makes me think that what I'm supposed to accomplish is either impossible, or useless. Will creating activities for youth to participate in REALLY help them pay their bills? help them achieve satisfactory levels of education? be treated like equals in their community? its so hard to know what I will accomplish in the next two years, and so easy to believe that it will be nothing.

and then there was wednesday. work was the same old, same old, but we wound up leaving a bit later than usual to head for the bus. As we walked across the town square, our night was brightened by the newly hung lights and decorations for christmas!!! further down the street, we heard music (traditional bulgarian music) and when we got there, there was a youth dance group performing! We had arrived just in time to see a little ceremony for the town christmas tree- also new today- that included dance and music. It was the first time in a long while that i'd heard bulgarian music and seen kids dancing- quite a breath of fresh air. It was that little bit of "something" that I think I needed to get myself through the week. The first signs of christmas.


At 6:33 AM, Anonymous angeline said...

Toni, what you said really hit home. Many a night I would wonder why put soooooooo many hours of my life into sports. I could think of so many more 'noble' things to do. But when I look back, I realize that the things I gained from those teams (think: youth organizations) are invaluable. The comraderie, the self-confidence, the determination to face a challenge instead of running away, understanding the importance of teamwork...and all the little life lessons I learned from coaches and friends. i've come to believe that the most practical/important life skills can be learned trough games and social activities. not to mention, life is more fun that way.


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