The Woman’s Club of Hamlet learned about the Roma Gypsies in the Ukraine at their last meeting, from guests Jack and Mary Carroll, who have taken four mission trips to Munkacs, in the Ukraine, and their interpreters, Ildika Hegedus and Akos Longauer.
The Carrolls are members of Hamlet First Baptist Church, and undertook their missionary work through the N.C. Baptist Men (an outreach of the N.C. Baptist Convention) in partnership with the Hungarian Baptist Aid. Hegedus and Longauer are Hungarian speakers, employed by the latter organization. The mission was to bring medical care to a village of Roma Gypsies, who are Hungarian speakers. Mary Carroll is a pharmacist, and Jack has EMT training. Others in their missionary group were nurses, doctors, and other medical technicians.
The Roma Gypsies live in ghettos in the Ukraine, in what Jack Carroll described as abject poverty, without education or health care, in severely overcrowded conditions. The missionaries provided their own medicines and equipment, and often treated illnesses which more prosperous societies would regard as minor, as well as more serious conditions. Some of the conditions requiring surgery. Even the simplest health care is unavailable to the villagers.
The village’s first kindergarten has opened recently, with Alicia Jones of Raleigh, sent by the N.C. Baptist Convention, as its teacher. Children often suffer from malnutrition, and lack of adequate clothing. Illiteracy is the norm among the villagers, and it will take a generation to begin correcting the conditions in which these people live, according to Hegedus.
The Carrolls displayed examples of native art which they had purchased while in Munkacs, paintings using sheeting and house-paint, and skillfully woven baskets. Crafts are often the only means of income for the villagers, but they lack markets. Mary Carroll said that they often shipped clothing home, or left it behind, in order to bring back crafts and art work.
The program was presented by the Woman’s Club Department of International Affairs, chaired by Juanita Harris.