Kelsey Mathew: Roma Gypsies in Transylvania

Kelsey Mathew has been fascinated by the Romani people  the – aka “Roma”, aka “Gypsies” (sometimes seen as derogatory) from an early age. I’m thrilled to have her on the show to tell us about some of her experiences interacting with this fascinating people in Romania during her many trips back with missions and charitable organizations! We’ll learn about the situation in the Transylvania region of Romania — its bad — and a bit about Romanian Romani culture, beliefs and practices too!

She opened her own Etsy store and sold artwork to help raise funds for children and families living in desperately squalid situations usually on the outskirts of otherwise modern Romanian villages.

She later stopped the Etsy and now sells her art at the Kent Market in Seattle and online at her Instagram:

Kelsey has been back to Romania to help at least 10 times and you can check out some blog posts and pictures over at

You’ll see heart wrenching photos like this (

I am going to share about one village in particular: Seleus (Sell-eh-oosh). Situated about twenty minutes outside Sighisoara, Seleus is in two parts; the main section, and the hill. The muddy hill is where most of the Roma Gypsies live, in shacks made of plastic, sticks, mud. The ground is perpetual mud littered with garbage and covered with feces. The children run around with bare feet (only some have shoes). Stray dogs overwhelm the village, barking and biting.

If you cannot see the pictures on your device, check them out on a browser at They are surreal. Like a really bad dream, but they’re real.

Hit Kelsey up at her Instagram for information on how she’s helping and on how you may be able to help as well.

One Reply to “Kelsey Mathew: Roma Gypsies in Transylvania”

  1. yeah, as it turns out, I fscking love Transylvania. Transylvania is where the Unitarian Universalist church began. Unitarians have a really cool belief system, which allows for all beliefs which cherish and value non-violence.
    I was listening to your recent podcast… wow. Cool stuff. v cool stuff. v v cool stuff.
    I like when yr guests are compassionate. The thoughts of compassionate people are more interesting and valuable in the long term than the delusional ones– though these perspectives may be amusing, at times. If only it were possible to gather up all of the smart, compassionate people in a digital community such taht they would be able to share their work making hu-man society less painful. Or something.

    Yeah, I like this. I would nominate yr girl (ack, sexist)– I would nominate yr woman to return to yr show and share some of her perspective on the Unitarian church in Romania. (I mention this because her blog is, “Romani for Christ,” so, she’s active in theological communities, and the stories and narratives of Unitarians allow for all non-violent depictions of Christ) That would be a hell of a story.

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