Sunday, July 05, 2009

Last month, in Northern Ireland, several Roma families suffered racist attacks, and many felt the police there were slow in acting against the racist behaviour.

Today's Newsround included a press pack report by Miriam, an 11 year old Roma girl living in east London. Miriam is hoping to teach people more about Roma culture.

Ricky: .... Next up to the kids who are fed up of not being understood. You might not have heard of Roma people but they're sometimes referred to as "Gypsies," and face a few problems when growing up. Gavin's been to meet one girl, Miriam, who wanted to set the record straight.

Gavin: Meet 11 year old Miriam. Along with some of her mates she's taking on the job of telling people all about her life. Miriam is part of a group of people called the Roma community, who've settled all across Europe over the last 1000 years. In the UK there are loads of Roma kids who live and go to school here. But many of them feel they don't get treated as well as they deserve just because they're from another part of the world and have different traditions. She and her friends have taken to the streets, giving out picture books which they've helped to make, telling everyone their story. Here in east London there's a big community of Roma people and this event is designed to make the public more aware about their way of life. The kids here are giving out books and leaflets to teach people about their language, food and music. After the roadshow I went along to Miriam's house to hear just why she was so keen for people to know more about Roma.

Miriam: The best thing about Roma is that they always - whenever they go somewhere - they don't leave the culture, they always keep the culture - like the music, the stories, they never forget it. We speak differently, and .... Roma people .. you see them, you don't know who they are, and you see them on the streets and they still say "hello" to you even though they don't know you. They're like brothers and sisters. Some people know us by culture. They will hear a song and they will like it but then, if they find out that Roma people were playing it, they wouldn't like the song any more. I would like people in this country to know more about Roma people, so Roma people don't get bullied.

Gavin: So for Miriam and her family, the task of making people learn more about their culture and where they came from is only just beginning.

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