Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Wedding in the Roma Community

Gatali and Altini
Marriages are great and joyous events for the Roma, signifying the extension of a family. Marriages mark a change in the position of the couple by providing fully rights and obligations. For this reason they are accompanied with great celebrations.
In Roma culture children are used to get married in a young age. The appropriate age to get married in the Roma culture for girls is 9 to 12 and for the boys is 13 to 15 years old. Another Roma interesting fact is that the Roma girls are promised as brides since they are 4 or 5 years old, for a different amount of money. The legal minimum age for marriage in Albania is 16, but ADRA have noticed that the practice of school-age marriages remains common in the Roma community, and the authorities normally turn a blind eye.
Roma children in traditional Albanian costumes
ADRA Albania through “REFLECT’ project is working to raise the awareness of the Roma parents about the phenomenon of young marriages. It has been more than 3 years that ADRA is working with the Roma community in Fushe Kruja and now we can see a light of change. The Roma are more aware of the problems that bring young marriages for their children’s. A Roma a parent expresses in this way for this phenomenon “As a father I know what is good for my kids. There are some laws that have to be respected. We Roma have a tradition to marry our children when minors".
Through ADRA trainings about early marriages and pregnancies the Roma girls and parents are reacting about this issue. This is a great success that the “REFLECT” project has achieved. A story of success is the Roma weeding that was organized on 21th of September in the Roma community of Fushe Kruja. The bride and the groom are two beneficiaries of REFLECT project. Adelina Gatali is 17 years old and she has been attending “REFLECT’ project since its beginning. Even the groom Altini (18 years old) has been a regular attendee of this project.
They invited ADRA’s staff on this special day. All the Roma present in the wedding expressed their happiness that ADRA staff took part in this event because for them it was the first time that non Roma people were present to celebrate with them. The bride and the groom were the only ones that were not laughing and enjoying because according to Roma culture they have to give the perception of someone who have left the childhood behind and is matured.
ADRA staff with the bridal couple
The customs and rituals of the marriage vary from one Roma community to another. The special thing in this weeding was that all the Roma children wore traditional Albanian clothes, very unusual for the Roma culture.
Music was the most important part of the celebration. The Roma are talented to dance beautify under the music and for them music signify “Life”.
It was very impressive for ADRA staff to see personally this beautiful part of the Roma culture.

Uniting voluntarily the Roma boys to reconstruct their Community Centre in Fushe Kruja

For more than one year the roof of ADRA Community centre in Fushe Kruja has been damaged as a result it was impossible to proceed with a normal implementation of ADRA’ s projects.
This centre has an important role in the integration of Roma community as it creates a place where Roma and non Roma people can interact in social activities, trainings and meetings.
For the reconstruction of this building some Roma boys, regular beneficiaries of REFLECT project were asked to give their help. Volunteering work is important as it contributes to the process of community development; it’s why ADRA team involved these beneficiaries in this process.
Since the Roma boys are not professionals for the roof repair, ADRA negotiated with the municipality of Fushe Kruja in order to have their professional support to guide the boys.
On the 10th of September 2014 these Roma boys and two specialists from the Municipality collaborated together for the reconstruction of the roof.
Through this action ADRA aims to develop the spirit of commitment and volunteering among the Roma boys which reflects the impact of “REFLECT” project.