Araceli Cañadas Ortega: Romani women are the roots that feed our communities with care and love
Araceli Cañadas Ortega of Camelamos Naquerar in Spain gave the following remarks about Romani women during the Roma Initiatives Office's online International Roma Day celebration. News server Romea.cz is publishing them here in English translation.
Remarks by Araceli Cañadas Ortega
Greetings, all my cousins, I hope this finds you well.
Today is April 8th. The strangest April 8th we have experienced, but also one that offers us an opportunity to reflect on what really matters. This year we won’t be distracted by celebrations or by taking pictures. This year, we comprehend the full meaning of the greeting "Health and freedom".
We also comprehend how the Roma people have always lived and resisted when faced with any difficulty, no matter how large. Roma resistance to exclusion, our resistance to the negation of our identity, our resistance to assimilation, to domination, to the instrumentalization that would make us appear to be the source of all ills and have us embody all the fears of racist minds in unfounded rumors spread by the media and social networks.
The Roma resistance that we learn from our mothers and fathers, our aunts and uncles, our grandmothers and grandfathers, and that we teach to our sons and daughters.
The Roma resistance that is born from a sense of community, of union, that is born of shared strength and wisdom. The Roma resistance rooted in knowing how to see and read situations in order to be one step ahead of things, able to confront them with the community in mind: to think of everyone, not just oneself.
Exemplary in our resistance is the strength of Roma women. Once again, in the pandemic we are experiencing now, Roma women demonstrate their wisdom and capacity to organize. Before any town hall, any government, any public or private institution, before anyone could even react, Roma women were already talking among themselves, figuring out who might be in a tight corner, what their difficulties might be, who would need medicines or food or cleaning supplies or hygienic materials or anything else. Roma women organized and continue to organize this firsthand information in order to share it with the relevant institutions and demand that they provide an adequate response.
Roma women who, in the confinement of their homes, care for and sustain life every day, every hour: they organize, clean, cook, listen, counsel and assist the elderly, children and their peers, mitigating and resolving the tensions produced by this agonizing situation, all in houses of less than 70 square meters inhabited by families of at least five members. Roma women who find the time when there is no time to call those who are alone, worried or ill. Roma women who are a light in the darkness, peace and harmony in the midst of chaos. Thus it has ever been, and will be so always.
Roma women, roots of the community, roots of the networks that support us, roots of love and care for our people. Roots of love and care for life, for health, and for freedom and the demand for the rights that have always been denied us, that are still being denied us.
Roma women who gather the stream of our people’s wisdom and transmit it to our children, from one generation to the next, through their food, their song, their dance, their words and their actions.
Long life to the brave Roma women!
Translated from the Spanish.
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