Today we were able to play with the neighborhood kids again. We went back to the Ruth School and played with the kids until they all began to trickle in. All they want is a smiling face, a hand to hold and someone to hug them. As we began our program we talked about super heroes and make crafts.
When we went back outside we had them all sit around an imaginary campfire drawn on the concrete with sidewalk chalk. They sat and played games, sang songs and learned an important American tradition: S’mores! We brought the marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers. They were absolutely fascinated by the marshmallows which they don’t have here. As we began to serve the snack the sun had melted the chocolate so we smeared it on the crackers. The Romanian sun acted as our fire and made the experience a little more realistic. From the little kids to the Romanian translators everyone loved the treat and wanted more. The adults were really just as excited and fascinated as the children and asked for the left-overs. Who knew that something as simple as marshmallows could be such a hit?
After lunch some representatives from the city council came to talk to us about the state programs in effect to help the Roma. Many of the projects were in essence similar to those of UNICEF and the main obstacle was again confirmed: discrimination. Roma are simply shunned as dirty, smelly and thieves. One of the Roma men asked us on Sunday to please pray that they might someday have their own church because it hurt him to take his family to church and have the Romanian women move so they won’t have to sit by his wife. Gabriella, one of the city council representatives, explained that she was married to a Roma and therefore had extra interest in their cause. When we asked if she had every been discriminated against because of this she could recall a situation in which she and her husband were with a group of friends and were the only ones denied acces to a club due to his ethnicity.
This week has been a rough week for many of us. It is very emotionally taxing to want to help and educate a people who see no value in education. The lessons we have learned here and the people we’re met have deeply impacted us. The faces and smiles of these people will not likely be forgotten.
Thank you for everything you’ve done for Project Ruth ! I hope you will have good experiences in Ethiopia and other places you’ll visit.
God bless you all !