The life of Romas in Edinet
Edinet is a town in the north of Moldova. With a population of about 20.000 people, it is inhabited by several ethnic minorities like Russians, Ukrainians, Bulgarians and Romas. Due to historical circumstances, the rate of emigrants was rather high. Some ethnics came to Edinet because they were seeking for a better life, others for a social shelter. To find out the concrete number of Roma inhabitants in Edinet is a difficult task. However, the approximate number of Romas varries from 600 (who are settled permanently) to 1200, including those who are working abroad.
Editor: Cristina Gutu
Although Moldova tends to be democratic and upholds European values, when it comes to human rights and social equality of Roma people, the mentality of Moldovans is way behind time. Racism and prejudice are an everyday reality. Already Roma children feel outcast. They are ignored by their peers and therefore obliged to spend their childhood in the close circle of their own community.
Olea, a 10 year old second grade student, says that even at school prejudice is overwhelming: “At school, my classmates ignore me, call me names, as I am Roma, and never play with me. The teachers treat me badly as well.” Olea comes from a wealthy family, but even this does not improve her social position in the eyes of her peers. It is simple: To speak of and to Romas is a taboo, yet “why” is a question with no answer.
Olea’s father, vice-president of the local Roma association says: “The situation of Roma integration in Moldova is rather poor, especially in the town of Edinet. Most of the Romas that live here permanently immigrate abroad, especially to Russia and Ukraine in search of work. They cannot get proper education, as the attitude towards them is full of prejudices. I hope the situation will change in the future, and I would like people to judge using their own hearts, not the opinion of society. Most of the Romas are illiterate, due to this they can’t find a proper job. As a result, their social benefit is minimal, about 80 lei per person (approx. 5 euros). Local authorities give us help from time to time, mainly clothes and small amounts of money. Together with Sultan, we managed to obtain social help from a German organisation, as well as clothes and household goods.”
Especially education is an issue that touches the Roma community in Edinet. Those few who were lucky enough to go to school only finished primary school, even fewer went to high school , and only one Roma in Edinet went to University: Sultan Nenita. He is the only Roma representative in the local council. Due to this social exclusion of the Roma community in Edinet, they live according to their unwritten laws. Few of them take interest in integrating in the society they belong to, preferring to live in an isolated, still safe world; they would rather be punished by its inner rules, then face the reality of prejudice and racism amidst other communities.
The Reality Report is entirely produced and edited by the respective reporter(s)
and does not reflect the opinion of ERSTE Foundation.