Friday, 24 July 2009

No! No! No!

Sajokaza Roma Women's Committee

No! No! No!

Sajokaza has made the Hungarian National headlines this week in an article entitled 'Nem! Nem! Nem! (No! No! No!)
Some of the Roma have been stealing electricity - one man has gone to prison for this heinous crime.
The Solyom Telep (settlement) has no gas, only partial electricity, no sewage system and only 4 standpipes for 1,200 people. The old electricity meters were removed 60 years ago and not replaced so 200 families have been obtaining electricity illegaly and dangerously. The debts are now enormous and in order to prevent more people going to goal (which is obviosly more expensive in the longer term) the National government has agreed to clear the debt provided the Local Municipality pays 10%. They have refused.
The Jaibhim Community got up a petition and organised a film festival to raise the 10% to give to the Municipality - still the Municipality refused. This means that the government money, 90% of the debt, cannot be drawn down and there is no way to force the municipality's hand without a change in the social rules of the whole country!
The politics here are crazy and clearly loaded against the Roma. The local municipality has the power to help but point blank refuses to do so - you can draw your own conclusions.

The Roma Community together with Jaibhim have formed a women's committee (with a man who wants to get into politics on it too ?!!!) called 'Helping Hands' and they have asked to send a representative to the Municipal Social Forum (which has no power but can make suggestions to the Municipal Government) Guess what? They have been refused.
So now Jaibhim are useing the money raised by the film festival (which could have provided the 10% match funding) to pay off the debts of those families most in crisis and threatened with the prospect of going to goal to prevent even more suffering.
Who are the criminals here?
Many of the Roma have been to prison for the most petty of crimes. The latest is for the non-payment of fines imposed for not sending their children to school ... and therein hangs another tale ...

An electricity meter in one of the newer 'Che' houses that replaced older dilapidated structures in the 70s

This house does have electricity but no gas, running water or toilet/bathroom

No utilities here

Water carriers

Water carriers 2

Water carriers 3

Temperatures can reach 37 - 40 degrees C in Summer.

Paint buckets being washed out in the same place that the drinking water comes from

One of 4 pumps in the Solyom settlement serving 1200 people

The children are a novel hosepipe connector - see below

This hose pipe is connected directly to the pump

Keeping cool!

Gusti does 6 hours community work a day for the local municipality

Bea, Maria & Maria watering the plants and flowers in the village. This community work enables them to top up their benefit.


  1. Looks hot hot hot to me! Makes me want to pour a bottle of water over my head right now!!
    Somehow I will have to resist as I don't want to make a mess of my desk. Also, George is lounging underneath, the wires might get wet and he could light up in a blue flash of very expensive electricity!!!

  2. Hi Tina and Anne Marie! The project looks amazing and the images are really great. We are so looking forward to the show in the gallery! Can't wait hear of all your tales and adventures.


  3. This really is an amazing story! Most of us are lucky enough to be able to take these necessities for granted. It's hard to fathom what life must be like without them. It must be unbelievably frustrating for those who are being deliberately deprived. Be well and stay safe.