Even if equality and non-discrimination are enshrined in constitutions of human rights in most countries, there are still some people who are not treated the same as others. Worse of all, certain people groups or social groups face discrimination due to historical disadvantages generation after generation, in workplace, in housing and education or training, to an extent that such discrimination has been seen as ‘normality’. For instance, the Roma community and the Dalits, the members of the lowest social group in the Hindu caste system, have been subjected to discrimination for centuries and their situation does not seem to improve.
The Roma is Europe’s largest ethnic minority with 12 million members in Europe. The ancestors of modern Roma come from Northern India. They migrated to the continent about 1,000 years ago. Most live in central and eastern Europe, but for centuries, smaller Roma communities have existed in Western Europe.
For centuries, the Roma community has been among Europe’s most disadvantaged populations. Across the continent, a high number of Roma experience social exclusion. They are often treated differently from other ethnic groups in the workplace, in housing and education. In recent years, more Roma have been moving to Britain, France and other countries in search of a better life.
According to a 2016 survey by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights, 80% of Roma live below their country’s poverty threshold, while 63% of 16-24 year-olds are not employed, compared to the EU average of 12%. In addition the 2015 Eurobarometer survey on discrimination in the EU shows that 20% of respondents would feel uncomfortable with a Roma and only 45% would be at ease with their child having a relationship with a Roma.
In several countries in Europe, Roma children attend the poorest schools or face discrimination in schools where they are the minority. As a result, Roma communities often suffer from low levels of education. International experts say this has created a form of inter-generational poverty. Even with these realities, Romani people are not a homogenous group. A growing Roma middle class exists. Some Roma communities have remained settled in parts of Europe for hundreds of years, while other Roma are more nomadic.
Praying for the Roma
– Rev. Grover Crosby
Almighty and Gracious God, we come to you in Jesus name on behalf of the Roma people (nation). You know the plight of these dear people as they try to survive in an unwelcoming, deprived and hostile environment. Thank you for the spread of the gospel among them, giving them hope and a positive identity. Thank you for the growing number of leaders, both within their communities and non-Roma partners, being raised up to bring them to faith in Jesus, and ground them in their faith. We pray for the Roma leaders. Guide them as they develop strategies to reach their people, and provide the resources needed to establish churches among them. We pray for the youth movements springing up presently. We pray for a new generation of Spirit filled believers to empower the churches. Raise up workers/volunteers who can help with education, health and the development of healthy communities. Thank you for hearing our prayer in Jesus name. Amen!
If you are interested in knowing more about RHCCC’s PEACE program in Roma community or would like to participate in this ministry, please contact Rev. Grover Crosby.