Mr Palm's speech during the launching of the study "Mapping of services for Roma Children in Albania" on 17 April 2012
Every morning, on my way to work, I see the same person screening the trash bins and collecting valuables. He comes on his three wheel motorcycle, and often his wife accompanies him. I assume she is his wife, because they work as a team. He runs his business, he maintains his vehicle, he budgets for fuel. I assume he has children, and that he sends them to school.
He does his job, when many other men are gathering in town to have their first coffee.
You know I am talking about a man, or a couple, or a family, from the Roma community. I am not talking about those who sent their children cleaning your windshield or begging on the street. These would be very few. I am talking about the majority of Roma people who try to make a living.
My story might be true, or might be fabricated. Perhaps there are different men coming each morning and I in my mind just can't keep them apart. But I know, that the family is working hard. I know they will find it difficult to keep their children in school. Because the family knows that the children are likely to be rejected when looking for a job. A lot of education doesn't seem to make sense, when you don't get a job because your father is in the garbage business.
Why I am telling you this?
I want to remind ourselves that most families from marginalized minorities do work hard, they love their children and want the best for them. They don't have many choices. Their children don't have many choices. They are invisible, because they work in an industry - the garbage industry - that doesn't pay well. They are invisible because they don't work in offices or have no formal employment. They work at hours, in locations where we don't pay attention.
We have helped the Ministry of Social Affairs to create a map of where many Roma live. So they become more visible. So we can turn our attention to them. If we are a business man looking for partners, or if we are in the civil service, we can know where they are. As a civil servant, working on social issues, we can now have a more accurate picture of where the people live who deserve a lot of our attention.
The map and the tool will be explained in more detail by Blerina. I just want to let you know that in most locations where Roma communities have been identified these communities are small. In many, if not most neighborhoods, only one Roma child was found not to be registered, one or two children were not in preschool, and two or three children were not in school. We now can even see the school, where they are supposed to learn. These are small numbers.
We don't need many more conferences, meetings, or workshops to make sure these few children go to school, or receive medical treatment when needed. For those meant to provide the service to those most disadvantaged children, I want to ask: What else do you need?
We don't need more laws or policies to admit the Roma child into school. Or that the clinic provides the medical treatment the child is entitled to. Just do it.
The map works two ways. We can see where the Roma live, and we can see the institutions, the schools and the health centers that should also provide for the Roma. We also can see where a service is missing, which is the case particularly in terms of kindergartens and pre-schools, and I hope the Ministry of Education is listening.
I hope this map, and the tools will be used widely. Primarily by the institutions who are meant to ensure that Roma children do well, and thus can escape the poverty of their parents. The map is publicly available, and everybody is invited to monitor progress, and help in the effort.