Nem írtam még soha angolul nektek, de ezt a történetet így szeretem, ahogyan van...angolul. A tini korom egy-egy hetét Ukrajnában töltöttem egy cigány táborban. Erről az élményről szól ez a kis novella, amit egy iskolai feladat kapcsán írtam meg. Páran azt gondoltátok, hogy amikor a cigányságról beszélek csupán romantikusan állok hozzá a kérdéshez és ezért szeretem ezeket az embereket. Őszintén szólva, ott állva nem igazán láttam semmi romantikusat a dologban. A leírása talán kicsit az lett. Ítéljétek meg ti magatok!

I remember the first time visiting Ukraine. As I saw the grey-faced people, old taxi cars, the market and the roads full of huge holes, I felt as if I was in an old Hungarian film from the 60s. We went there with a church youth group to help poor people. I was very excited about seeing the living conditions of Ukrinian people. As I walked on the streets of the city I understood, there are only poor and poorer people in this country. I thought that it couldn’t be worse but then I arrived to the village where Izolda lives.

The car turned onto a muddy road and after a second I noticed six or seven mud huts situated next to a stinky morass. I saw women and children coming out from their houses. That was the first time I saw her, Izolda. They walked to our car and welcomed us warmly. They expected the missionaries to give them food and clothes.

She smiled at me, confusing me very much. I didn’t understand how could she be so happy? The little children surrounded me, touched my clothes, my hair, asked questions like, ’Are you a movie star from one of the soap-operas on the TV?’ or ’Why is your hair so clean?’, ’Do you know Floricienta from the soap-opera?’.’It was interesting because all of them had a TV at home. They watched commercials, soap-operas in their towsy and cold mud huts.

Those children were acting like any little children would act. Laughing loudly, playing ’catch-me-if-you-can’, asking for sweets and chocolate, girls talking about dolls, boys about cars. But when I looked at them I saw, some of them didn’t have shoes. Some didn’t have sweater or coat. (I was freezing in my boots and my warm coat.) Their hands were black, their clothes smelly. Her long, curly, black hair have never seen a comb, nor shampoo. They didn’t – or couldn’t- care. Later I heard that every second child dies of pneumonia or because of dirt.

After meeting the people we walked around the huts and gave food and clothes to the families. In every house I saw many children and tired and shamefaced men who pretended they didn’t see us. They didn’t have any opportunity to work because they were gypsies. They didn’t have anything to eat or to wear. It was terrible to see thin and hungry men sitting without anything to do.

She came with me holding my hand and talked to me about her life. She looked happy despite of being undereducated, under clothed, hungry and dirty. She introduced me to her boyfriend whom she married two months later. At that time she was fourteen.

After doing my task she showed me the only house that looked better than the others. It was the church. One tiny room filled with chairs and with an old guitar in the corner. She picked the guitar up and started playing an old song. She sang and her eyes were smiling. I wanted to cry when I remembered my church. A huge hall, beautiful decorations, warm radiators, microphones, drums and musical instruments.

Then, I was introduced to the teacher who came from the town in order to teach these people how to read and write. She told me, she couldn’t give books or exercise books to them because they would use them to make fire. The old teacher wasn’t paid for her job. She taught them as charity. Izold went to the blackboard and wrote her name down. That was the maximum she could do, even so everyone was proud of her.

We were in her village for roughly four hours but it changed my way of thinking. She was just like any girl of my age. She had desires, fears, thoughts but no one cared. She was the girl who gave poverty a face. She was more than a number or statistics. More than the lack of food or warmth or education, she was a living creature who became very important to me.

Moira C. xox- 2007