It warms the cockles of my jaded, half-dead journalist’s heart every time I visit Ramona and see how much her six-year-old daughter loves to learn and how much work they do together at home. They have come a very long way since we finished our collaborative book about her life almost two years ago http://issuu.com/ciaraleeming/docs/elvira_and_me
A major theme in my collaborative book Elvira and Me was the pain felt by Ramona at living thousands of miles from her small daughter, who remained with her parents in Romania when she migrated to England in 2009. This is a complicated dynamic that I can’t pretend to understand: the obvious (to me) fact that a daughter should be with her mother wherever possible was not so simple for Ramona, whose mother had become extremely attached to her eldest grandchild. In the event, after much persuasion, the daughter moved to the UK in June this year and has thrived – settling down, starting school, making friends and learning some English. Sadly, however, she’ll be leaving again less than a month from now, to spend the winter back with her grandparents and extended family in Romania. I am saddened by this – it seems a great shame to me to pull a bright and bubbly five-year-old out of school midway through the year and to tear her away from her mother – inevitably breaking her heart. I’ve voiced my opinion but who am I to put my own values on another family and another culture. Such are the challenges which face many migrants across the world, not just Roma people. The family dynamics seem quite different here though and importance is placed on very different things. I am anticipating many tears when Ramona returns from Romania alone.