I have the great privilege of working with the United Kingdom Association of Gypsy Women (UKAGW) this summer. They are a small, but mighty, organization that campaigns for the rights of UK Travellers and European Roma. My main objective is to support them in their mission to combat the European-wide practice of evicting Roma and Travellers from their land and homes.
The problem of evictions is close to my heart, having spent the last year of graduate school researching a related topic: the displacement of minorities and low-income populations in North America due to gentrification. Having said that, I want to be careful not to draw too many parallels–especially at this early stage–between the situation of European Roma and Travellers, and the situation of different groups in North America. Yet, it is impossible to deny the shared theme of discrimination and oppression that exists for both groups.
I am excited and nervous about working with UKAGW. Most of my background is academic, and thus, theoretical. Putting theory into practice will be an interesting challenge. I know I will learn a great deal from the women at UKAGW and from the people they serve which will be a tremendous help to me, an ultimately, I hope, to them. After all, it is in the sharing of information and stories that one finds common ground and the strongest bridges are built.
Speaking of bridges, another overarching focus of my internship is to help create a network of the different Roma advocacy groups across Europe and the UK. While I am not entirely clear on how best to obtain this objective, I am clear on what my objective is: helping UKAGW and other Roma advocacy groups make sure their voices are heard. These groups are typically those with the quietest political voice and I am eager to help pump up their volume!
That’s it for now, more thoughts to come as my departure date (June 8) draws nearer.
Posted By Lynne Engleman (United Kingdom)
Posted May 28th, 2014