No, I’m not Romanian and I’m not “going back there” for Christmas. I am Romani; British Romani of Slovakian and Polish heritage.

Yes, I have relatives in Europe. Though, as of last night one less. My cousin died of TB (Tuberculosis). A preventable disease.

I’m extremely angry.

Yeva was only young. Her brother Juraj (also pictured) is apparently sick too, but Duška, Branka, Bohdan (the oldest three) and Havel (the youngest) are OK. I hope he makes it. Their mother, Noemi stayed with our family for a while in the UK when she was younger, but her family went back to central Europe. Last I heard they were in the Czech Republic on their way to Slovakia to stay with bibi Naděžda (Nada – who is an old woman now).

We sent them money, when there was a place to send it. Bibi Nada was in Bardejov for a while, but after kako passed she moved south. I don’t actually know where Noemi or bibi are right now. I got word from Márk, a cousin who lives in London, who married Noemi’s sister (Mariana). I am not in touch with most of my relatives, simply because of the situations in which we are forced to live.

You ask me why I do this… why I do what I do, and this is why. Yeva was a child. Her death would not have happened if she was not Romani. Her death would not have happened if she was not Romani in a part of the world who despises her on that basis alone. How can you look into her face and hate her?

I am tired of hearing stories like this – of relatives who died because they were not given adequate care, or who died because of the disgusting situation they were forced to live in. I was lucky; I was able to grow up in the UK where the situation for Roma is a lot better than it is in much of the rest of Europe. But I never forget for a MINUTE where I am from and where my blood runs thick.

Zutij tut i Marja.

Me and Duška before I came to the US.