By Juliana Penha and Eva Kourova
Every year, on 8th April, all Roma communities around the world meet for two important reasons: to celebrate their history, traditions and cultural contribution and on the other hand, to raise awareness about the issues that the Europe’s largest ethnic minority group is still facing. “International Roma Day provides opportunity to raise awareness on the issues that many Roma people face every day, especially discrimination” said Eva Kourova, Community Development officer for Marcela Adamova, Manager of Friends of Romano Lav that also said “It is a day when we need to realize that top-down as well as grassroots actions are necessary to bring about positive changes in the Roma communities”.
This year the International Roma Day will be celebrated in Glasgow on two occasions: an awareness raising flash-mob will take place on Saturday 4th April in Glasgow city centre but the exact time and location is a surprise so watch out for this! And on Saturday 11th April a celebratory march will take place in Govanhill starting in Govanhill Park (assembly time 12noon) and moving slowly through Govanhill streets.
For the parade news go to: https://www.facebook.com/events/837938312949918/
“It is an opportunity to raise awareness of Roma culture and build links to and within the Roma communities who are too often demonised, misunderstood and under-resourced”, explains Joshua Brown, co-organizer.
But it is not easy to organize and maintain this event in Glasgow. To understand better the situation, the organizers explained a little bit more about the importance to maintain it: “Many Roma people even do not know that there is such a day in calendar as it is not a ‘topic’ that would be promoted in media or schools”, explains Marcela Adamova and continues: “But we want to let ordinary people know that there is such a day where Roma people all around the world can celebrate their Romipen (Roma identity).”
However, lack of support and limited resources threaten this yearly celebration to vanish, as Eva explains: “In basic terms this is a matter of priorities and it seems that the organization of International Roma Day has not been seen so far as a priority for any major stakeholder in Glasgow. So there is a chance that unless someone takes this initiative forward, there will be no celebration of this very important day next year.”
“It is unfortunate that last year’s success did not generate funding to ensure that the events would continue. The importance and success of last year’s events has inspired many people (including myself) and many community organisations to commit to making sure that International Roma Day is celebrated again this year” explains Joshua Brown.
This year, the events are partially funded by volunteers and donations from individuals and groups, but we hope that International Roma Day will become an annual celebration in Glasgow “I think we have to show that this will take place each year and is an established part of Govanhill’s calendar”, explains Jim Monaghan, co-organizer.
“I think International Roma Day is an important part of recognising and celebrating the multicultural community that is Govanhill and Glasgow. I think the more people learn about other cultures and the more they interact with people from other backgrounds the less likely they are to hold negative stereotypes and bias against them. I am very proud to be supporting International Roma Day celebrations for a second year”, reveals Joshua Brown.
You can get a flavour of last year celebrations here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8wXvw_l-gk