Beggars

Life is so full of contradictions. Was it last year that I sat and read most of the Katitzi books for my children? Reviewed them here and on Shelfari. Trying to tell my children about the Roma people. But there is no way to really talk about a people as one, is there? On the one side you have Katarina Taikon’s view. And her very angry sister’s view, that was broadcast at last year’s book fair in Gothenburg,when she was interviewed and railroaded the journalist. According to her, the Swedish people is ghastly and still treating “her people” poorly.

Then we have the Roma people that we encountered in Italy, last time we were there. The beggars in Florence. The ones that threaten you, put curses on you, ball you out for not giving them money. The ones that one moment stand in front of you and point at their pregnant bellies, and then you watch them a moment later, behind a corner, taking out the pillow from under their skirts. The ones that stick their heads in to your car, when you are trying to listen to the GPS, having stopped at a red light, trying to get out of the city of Pisa. Stick their heads in to your car and shove a mug in your face, while you try to concentrate, expecting you to put money in the mug and then swear at you in Romani, when you don’t.

The beggars have now been present in Lund for about a year. And the debate has been strong in our country. What to do with them? Is begging on the streets disturbing the traffic? The flow of people? The police in Stockholm finally decided that it is allowed. But is it truly appropriate? On Champs Elysée, these beggar women sat in a long row with about ten meters between each beggar. And I can only say, that I found it unpleasant. Likewise seeing a beggar sitting in the metro with her poor bored small children. To see them sitting in Lund, outside the supermarket by the train station, outside the book shop down town… It is so not Sweden. They sit there with their fancy coffee mugs which shows that before they sat down to beg, they had a cup of coffee to set them off. They sit and mumble at you, in Romani, like we are supposed to understand what they are saying. For all I know, they might be telling me that I look like a fat cow?!

Many people do give them money. They feel so sorry for them, to be so poor that they have to beg. Someone in Church said that it is not for us to judge them, to say “How do I know what they will use the money for? How do I know that they are really poor?”. But half of the population in Sweden is asking these questions. The other half is saying “We should help them get an education so they don’t have to be so poor, so they can get a job and not beg” and some are saying “We should give them shelter, food to eat, clothes to wear. Let’s set up a help organisation”.

Last week, they finally interviewed these Roma beggars, which was about time, I would say and what I have been telling my children since we were in Florence and Pisa, was confirmed in the interviews: “We have come here from Romania to beg for money so we can build out our house with an extra room. Our family has five members and we need one more room.”. People that see them on the streets do not understand that these Roma beggars are no regular homeless people begging. They are not homeless. We saw some of them arriving in Sweden this summer, when we had to pull in to a parking lot right after the Copenhagen bridge, so I could run to the loo. They come in caravans, entire families, for one sole purpose: To beg for money! They have no intention of doing an honest day of work. They have no desire to get an education here. They have come here to get money in the most effortless way possible.

Today,  on the news they said that politicians have finally reacted and are now turning to the Romanian government, demanding that they take care of their own citizens. They are being asked to pay for social welfare for their own, because the Swedish government do not want this on its shoulders. We should not have to support the Romanian Roma beggars. Let’s say, I doubt very much that the Romanian government will pay a penny for them. A futile attempt by the Swedish government, reacting too late, to a problem that is constantly growing. Perhaps they should have listened to the rapports from Italy and France? They had the problem first and the only thing that Sweden did was condemn them for their harsh treatment of the Roma.

I can understand Rosa Taikon’s anger, at the treatment that her family had to go through in the 1930s, during the war and even after that. But let’s face it, she just can’t defend this behaviour of the Romanian Roma. You can’t have one segment of the population that has put it in to a system, to live off the others like parasites. It will create feelings of disgust and hatred. To continue play a victim, instead of proving that you are not like the stereotype that you are accused of being, leaves a very sour taste in everybody’s mouth. Including mine. I will not teach my children that these people are anything but parasites. I will not donate a single penny to them. Sorry, call me un-Christian, but God says that we must try to take care of ourselves and do our bit. And to go to a foreign country for the purpose of begging and playing on people’s feelings, is not doing your bit to take care of yourself. Its forcing other people to take care of YOU!

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50 responses to “Beggars

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