Thursday, July 29, 2010


Not everyone in Bulgaria would agree with me, but every weekday when I see the Romi street cleaners keeping every part of this city clean for its citizens and guests I think what amazing women they are.

I first saw them in our training village of Varshets. I thought at the time it was unique to that town and a great way to provide employment. It was summer, there was always some litter on the sidewalks, but more often there were nature’ droppings…….seed pods, leaves, flower pedals or fruit that if left unattended, made the area “grungy”. Most fascinating when I first saw them were their brooms. Tied onto the end of a wooden pole (or sometimes a stick) was a thicket of shrub branches, easily replaced when worn and always available. Most important they were FREE. Scattered throughout town, these ladies methodically swept not only the sidewalks but the street gutters as well!

I was a bit surprised when we moved to the big city and once again saw the Romi street cleaners. During the fall they were responsible for “raking” the leaves not only on the streets and sidewalks but also from under the shrubs in the parks and along the street medians. For weeks on end they fought what seemed like a loosing battle, but Mother Nature finally gave up having shed the last of her foliage, and they were victorious.

With the leaves all swept away, I wondered if they would continue to work through the winter. Absolutely! They continued with the daily cleaning of sidewalks but as the weather worsened and the snow made its appearance and the ice started forming, they took on new responsibilities. Outfitted with flat wooden shovels and bags of sand they now cleared the sidewalks or chipped away at the ice at the bus stops, making it safer and easier for all of us hurrying to work or tending to our needs.

With the threat of snow past for another year, came the spring clean-up. All the sand they had carefully spread throughout the winter now lay heaped in the gutters, or filled sidewalk crevices. Very methodically they swept and bagged it all, swept the garden lawns and prepared the city for another rebirth.

I love walking this city, but I particularly enjoy it when the Romi street cleaners have preceded me. They are what keep the city from looking like a dump as many of its residents do not think twice about littering. If they were ever to “strike” the city would look quite different in just a week’s time.

Just like a child who's attention is heightened with the musical call of the ice cream truck on hot summer days, my ears perk when I hear the "swish, swish" of the tree branch brooms. I know the ladies are close by.

So to you ladies, I extend a smile, a greeting and my heartfelt appreciation for the amazing job you do!!!!!!!!!!!!


1 comment:

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