Despre Di(h)or, Cambodgia si Cretuleasca

23 Feb

Sunt iarăși în avion. De data asta pe ruta  Istanbul – Bangkok . Stau între doi domni: cel din dreapta pare că ar fi fost rezultatul unei povești minunate de dragoste dintre o dihoriță miloasă care a fericit un cioban nespălat  și- logic- neiubit de câteva deceniii. Îl blestem în gând și îi dau numele meritat : Di(h)or (h-ul din mijloc e tăcut). Și-a decojit hoiturile din picioare și s-a încălțat în papucii oferiti  în mod sadic (din punctul meu de vedere) de Turkish Airlines.  Aerul dimprejur s-a îngălbenit instantaneu și sistemul video a cedat și el. Pe bune.  Cum avionul era plin ochi m-am hotărât că o să călătoresc fericit în budă. Până să decolăm însă, mirosul m-a anesteziat și visam că mă plimbam printre butoaie de brânză împuțită. Plictisitor tare. Norocul a fost însă că celalalt domn  de langa mine sforăia tare și creativ, așa că din când în când apăreau în vis tot felul de animale care răgeau în moduri tare interesante, dar care făceau somnul imposibil. Am stat în budă cât s-a putut de mult și în rest m-am plimbat prin avion. 8 ore. Că sistemul video nu și-a revenit până când s-a reîncălțat Di(h)oru . Dacă aveți vreodată nevoie de un ghid pentru Boeing 747, vă stau la dispoziție.

Am ajuns frânt în Phnom Penh, după o escală scurtă în Bangkok.  Traficul din capitala Cambodgiei face ca Bucureștiul să pară un oraș în care circulația e o minunăție de ordine și civilizație.

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Am descoperit că trecerea de pietoni, semaforul, linia continuă și sensul interzis sunt un fel de decorațiuni care indică o speranță, în mare nejustificată , de a separa drumul de câmp și vacile de mașini.  Alte semne nu am mai vazut, dar după cum se circulă nici nu ar avea vreun rost.

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Pe stradă am fost întrebat de cel putin 20 de ori dacă vreau droguri. Dacă  doriți o experiență îndelungată și magnifică în închisoarile din  Cambodgia, atunci acceptați oferta. Închisoarea de lângă capitală oferă în mod generos  spatiul de 45 cm pe 1.60 m pe detinut și pentru doi români. . Nu pare o problemă de nerezolvat să mai apară și alții. Se plătește pentru a dormi întins.Nu am îndrăznit să întreb care sunt formele de plată.1361 din cei 3305 de detinuti sunt închiși în așteptarea sentinței. Primirea sentinței poate dura între 8 luni și sfârșitul lumii,  dacă e să te iei după felul în care sunt ținute dosarele. Dosarele sunt claie peste gramada, in camere umede unde accesul e cam la liber pentru oricine care e cu partidul cel bun . Faptul că nu există calculatoare care să fie folosite în sistemul justiției, că marea majoritate a judecatorilor nu au studii superioare ( însă sunt membri ai partidului care trebuie) și că în medie sunt cam 600.000 de locuitori pentru fiecare  tribunal ar trebui sa fie parte din informarea obligatorie a turistului care intra in Cambodgia cu chef de distractii la limita legii. Tribunalul pe care l-am vizitat avea pe rol 1087 de cazuri si judeca maxim 10 pe saptamana. Timpul de asteptare cam de doi ani si opt luni este in mod placut petrecut in inchisoare, asta daca nu se pierde dosarul ceea ce duce la o prelungire pe perioada nedeterminata a detentiei . In plus mai au si o lipsă de vreo 500 de judecatori  si 400 de procurori, lipsa pe care ministerul justitiei planuieste eficient sa o rezolve cam in 10-12 ani.

Desigur, dacă aveți un surplus de câteva zeci de mii de Euro pe care doriți să îi faceți cadou unui funcționar al partidului comunist cambodgian, atunci Phnom Penh e locul ideal pentru a accepta ofertele de distracție ilegală și de a explora felul în care funcționează corupția locală.

Am întalnit trei secretari de stat în timpul vizitei mele acolo. Toți aveau câteva caracteristici comune:  bărbat, inel mare cu diamante, ochelari cu rame de aur, ceas de aur, Lexus 4X4 ( mașinoi de lux de vreo 1000 de salarii medii pe economie în Cambodgia sau vreo 83 de ani de muncă cinstită).  Desigur,  nu puteau să scrie decât cu pixuri/stilouri Mont Blanc -brand de super-fițe- purtate în general de bogătași. Un pix Mont Blanc  costă o poală de bani, brandul având ca semn distinctiv un fulg de nea la capăt. Părul ielegant întins peste chelie ( de la stânga la dreapta) și vopsit într-un negru-corb la fel de verosimil ca discursurile lor despre cât de democratică e Cambodgia, este un alt semn caracteristic.

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Niro, Micky Spaga și Hrebenciuc sunt din acelasi film, numai un pic mai stilati- în Cambodgia se poartă unghie lungă la degetul mic. Habar nu am la ce folosește, dar ăsta este încă un lucru pe care nu am dorit cu tot dinadinsul să-l aflu.

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Săracia din zonele rurale este greu de imaginat, mai ales dacă nu ieșiți din capitala care e plină de Lexusuri și jipane. Salariul mediu pe lună este undeva în jur de 60 de dolari.

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Zecile de miliarde din ajutor extern trebuiau să ajungă undeva.  În Cambodgia te scoți fie dacă ești politician, ori funcționar în sistemul de stat, fie funcționar al instituțiilor internaționale sau unul dintre șmecherii care administrează o bună parte a celor peste 4000 de ONG-uri .

Regimul lui Pol Pot a omorât undeva între 1.4 si 2.2 milioane de oameni și a distrus orice tip de elită. La sfârșitul regimului – în 1979- nu mai exista nici măcar un singur psihiatru.  O estimare oficială spune că aproximativ 40% dintre cei care au trecut prin perioada Khmerilor Roși suferă de boli mentale. În 1991 era un singur psihiatru la 1 milion de oameni. Acum sunt 54 pentru 14 milioane de cambodgieni. În zonele rurale  majoritatea populatiei nu știe să scrie sau să citească. Statul alocă în fiecare an suma de 30.000 de dolari ( o treime de Lexus) pentru bugetul menit să trateze oamenii cu probleme de sănătate mentală. Situația copiilor este dezastruoasă.Vremea blanda permite pustilor sa doarma pe strada. Traficul de copii e in floare asa cum sunt si casatoriile fortate in marea lor majoritate cu chinezi sau vietnamezi.

Clima este o minunăție mai ales în ianuarie, februarie sau martie.  Țara are niște locuri incredibil de frumoase, iar mâncarea este absolut senzațională. Piețele sunt fabuloase, se vinde și se cumpără aproape orice. Fructele proaspete sunt de zece ori mai ieftine decât în magazinele pentru străini din capitală, iar mancarea de pe marginea drumului este o experiență care merită încercată deși există un risc de cufureală.

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Niște băieți au șparlit  anul trecut rămășitele lui Buda, dar templul de unde au fost furate, care e la o oră și jumătate de capitală merită vizitat.

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Cambodgia este o monarhie condusă de un partid comunist. Țara este varză, varză și în mod oarecum firesc regele este balerin și stă mai mult prin Paris. Au un prim-ministru Hun Sen super corupt, care e la putere de 30 de ani și care recent a spus ca planifică să se retragă din funcție la vârsta de 94 de ani. Are 64 si cred ca Adrian Nastase si-ar baga unghia in gat, binenteles prin fularul Burberry, daca ar vedea felul minunat in care coruptia este politica de stat.

La întoarcere am zburat la fereastră. Lângă mine, un israelian cu PTS ( stress post traumatic) care a vorbit cu mine în mare parte in ebraică. Am gesticulat cu entuziasm  tot drumul, nu de alta, dar din când în când băiatul își dorea să iasă din avion.In timpul zborului ca sa fim clari.

Când am ajuns în București am fost fericit să văd că încă avem un președinte neamț, un premier mincinos și  majoritatea elitei politice în închisoare sau pe drumul spre închisoare. Comparativ cu ultimele țări pe care le-am vizitat noi locuim într-un paradis al normalității. Ca să îmi revin complet am încercat o porție televizată cu Andreea Crețulescu și Lavinia Șandru . Mi s-au părut niște doamne înțelepte, calme și echilibrate.Mi-am planificat o portie de Rares Bogdan si Ciutacu ca sa imi revin treptat. As fi putut sa rezolv imediat cu un calup de Antena 3 dar am si eu limitele mele.

Broken and unholy

28 Jan

Abraham’s tomb. The bullet proof window that separates the Jews and Palestinians praying in the same place built around a tomb both people consider sacred. Praying to the same God . In a place where 29 Palestinians were massacred by a Jewish settler.

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The amazing landscape.

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Huge discrepancies. Bedouins living in appalling conditions. All Bedouins’ houses can be demolished at any time. Some were demolished. There are far too many Palestinians in the same situation.

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Jewish settlers on the Bedouins ‘ land living in a comparatively strident comfort. Palestinian Authority that seem they couldn’t care less.

Too many children/youth carrying with them heavy weapons. A paralyzing sensation that there is no solution.  Angry people. Racist  bureaucratic policies that almost nobody in the international community dares to talk about. Money wasted by international aid that makes no sense. Blabla and useless reports that costs millions and justify the good life of a few . Houses build by the UN and Norway and demolished by the Israeli government.  The world turned upside down.

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A street just for those that have the power in Hebron. A nearly empty street in a city that is overcrowded. Two children playing in the middle of the street.

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Snipers. Palestinian children without future. Growing angry and frustrated. Risking to be put in prison at almost any time . With or without justification. With or without proof.

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Lots of corruption and incompetence on the side of the Palestinian politicians. Ghettoes – far too many ghettoes –perfect breeding grounds for violence and radicalism.

The chilling us or them paradigm. The ugly and somehow surreal wall. The barbwire. The soldiers.Check-points. Lack of dignity.

People at war with each other living a few meters away from each other.  Some with all the power; the others more and more desperate.

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But I felt eerie happy spending time with the Bedouins despite the sad stories. Felt peaceful. A moment that could have made me forgive what I really believed.  That it would be impossible to imagine a more sarcastic word for this place than how it is advertised – the Holly Land.

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Puie Mutin –din Georgia cu love pentru Katiusa

24 Jan

Marin, fiul Miței (sora maică-mi), după legenda familiei, a cântat cu Phoenix. Habar nu am dacă a făcut-o sau ba, dar un lucru e sigur : Marin cânta senzațional la chitară. Aproape la fel de bine cam cum pilea, dar considerând că unchii Ghica și  Gigilică Bouroșu erau la nivel de  Hendrix și Segovia, iar tata și Gogu clar superiori, asta cu pileala nu era apreciată cum se cuvine, cel puțin nu în familion.

Deși arăta potențial, ficatul lui Marin nu a fost cooperativă (vorba lui Năzdrăvan) și privat fiind în mod sadic de apă, a decis să se retragă din activitate. Împreuna cu Marin. Într-un gest firesc de solidaritate-sindicatul bețivanilor era și a rămas, cred, cea mai unită, solidă și talentată instituție– nea Ghica, tata și nea Gogu, deși mult mai batrani, l-au urmat relativ repede pe plaiurile eterne/etilene.

Gigilică pare să nu aibă ficat, căci altfel nu se poate explica sănătatea lui impecabilă.

Marin a încercat să mă invețe să cânt. Nu am înțeles nicicând chinul lui și am refuzat cu încăpățânare să mă integrez corului multi-etnic ( Bouroșu e de viță pură si cum spune și numele, ne-parte a neamului nostru superior și zburător).

Dar divaghez.

Sunt în Georgia. Țară  frumoasă tare, tare, dar și săracă rău. Nu Tbilisi, unde sunt acum, dar în jurul capitalei e jale. Sunt cazat  la hotel Diplomat – o semi-bombă care reflectă de minune starea diplomației mondiale. Dorm, frânt de oboseală, căci am prestat la greu prin ghetouri în Kutaisi și Tbilisi unde am amestecat la greu țigăneasca mea de baltă, cele 40-50 cuvinte pe care le stiu în rusă și cu “moldoveneasca” . Sunt câteva mii bune de romi născuți in Georgia, dar care încă vorbesc moldoveneasca de Chisinau și care au “bunei “ din România. Visez, oarecum logic, că mă chinuie Marin ( care avea accent de Piatra Neamț) să cânt împreună cu el , Gogu , Ghica și unii dintre “moldovenii” cu care am vorbit în timpul zilei . Trebuie să cântăm Katiușa și nu prea vreau. E o Katiușă cam ciudată și behăită mult mai rău decât sunt eu obișnuit. Cum îmi e drag să îi revăd, fie și în vis, cedez și rag și eu cu ei. Rag așa de tare încât mă trezesc .

Se cânta totuși Katiușa. Nu e Marin, deci nu e chitară de acompaniament. E o altă versiune. Cântată tare- tare de parcă ar fi la mine în cameră. Mă uit pe geam și înțeleg: la 2 metri sub mine, pe stradă, sunt patru georgieni răzbunători care schilodesc cu entuziasm perla culturii ruse.  Schilodit e de fapt un eufemism. Fiecare dintre ei muge, screme, vomită sute de blesteme toate pe o linie melodică diferită și în dușmania auzului. Dacă făceau asta la invazie , sigur lucrurile ar fi stat cu totul altfel. Dacă aș putea mi-aș sparge timpanele singur și mă simt foarte tentat de suicid pentru câteva minute.

Mă infurii. Sun la recepție. Nu apuc să zic niica. Primesc o lectură rapidă într-o engleză oribilă, că sunt străin și nu înțeleg. Că nu e nimic neobișnuit și că o să plece în câteva minute ca e frig rău afară. Și că au mai sunat și altii. Mă gândesc că dacă recepționera la Diplomat vorbește așa nu e de mirare că și-au luat-o georgienii așa rău de la cei care ar fi trebuit să îi ajute cu ursul rus de la nord. Nu îi zic asta, că la cât de furioasă e, poate vine și mă bate. E ditai dihania și decid să fiu în mod necaracteristic politicos: o înjur doar de mă-sa cu grijă și în detaliu ( desigur în română) și îi trântesc eroic telefonul. Mă închid în camera pe dinăuntru, ca să fim siguri. E 12.10. La 2.30 sunt un alt om.

Baieții au în total 6 cântece. Ok, nu sunt cântece, ci mai degrabă exorcizări ale diavolului care ne-a înzestrat pe noi, cei cu handicap alcoolic, cu auz. Katiușa revine la fiecare 10-15 minute. Nu am rezistat și am cântat și eu o dată cu ei pe geam. În mod sigur sunt cel mai iubit țigan în Georgia. Mă tot strigă să mai cânt. Mă simt răzbunat față de bestia de la receptie.

Inspirat de un drag slogan românesc îi învăț, ielegant, să strige: Muie  Putin!.  Sunt euforic toate trainingurile mele de leadership au dat in sfărșit roade.  Se aude: M……..eeeeeeeeeee Puuuuuuutiiiin! în tot cartierul.

Dorm neîntors. Până înainte de 8.30, când am intalnire cu un domn important de la Consiliul Europei din Tbilisi. Un italian scorțos.

Stau cu el la masă. Bestia (e frumușică foc dar mare rău) ne aduce mâncare și îmi aruncă un zâmbet până la urechi de cred că o să își taie singură capul dacă încearcă un pic.  Mă gândesc , cu pragmatism diplomatic, că ar trebui să îl las doar pe italian să mănânce și să bea. Oricum, ei sunt mai mulți și la felul cum arată nu ar fi din punct de vedere genetic o pierdere prea mare. Vine un nene cu niște ochi roși și cât cepele și un fizic de rugbist  care arăta vag familiar.  E bărbatul bestiei, după cum îi pune mana  pe cur. Are două pahare de pileală cu el, pe care le ține în cazmaua care funcționează ca mână stângă. Ia mâna de pe curul doamnei și trântește un pahar pe masă. Mă pupă pe obraz, încearcă- și aproape reușește- să îmi dizloce umărul, râde la mine și zice cu poftă: M……eeeee Putin !

Agreez.

Bem. Eu și el.

Ragem: M……….eeeeeeeee Putin !

Italianul se uită la mine apoplexic.

Abia aștept să mă mai duc în Georgia.

PS. Lângă Hotel Diplomat e un restaurant, în subsolul unei case – Leul Negru – absolut senzațional. Ziceți: Muie Putin ! când intrați și poate mâncați, ca și mine, gratis. De luni prestez Gaza.

Euro-Narnian* , preservatives, MSG , the Decade and toilet training

20 Jan

*Euro-Narnian is the language used within the bureaucratic heavens in Brussels.

The followings excerpts come from the latest document published on the EU Roma website. The document wishes to prove progress and indicate what needs to be done.

“Member States were Encouraged to Ensure Effective Equal access for Roma to mainstream public employment services, alongside targeted and personalised guidance and mediation for Roma jobseekers, and to support the employment of qualified Roma civil servants.”

The member states were thoroughly EEEE-ed and MSG-ed. Swiftly and powerfully Encouraged, Ensured, Effectived and Equaled in the very first sentence the Member States were trembling with fear. Then in a powerful but yet not final blow within the same paragraph they received a heavy dose of MSG (not to be confounded with the toxic chemical used for flavoring cancerously but nevertheless tastily diverse food products). The MSG – Mediation, Support and Guidance was to be the best type of it – personalized MSG. Four time E-ed, once MSG-ed and thoroughly advised might seem tranquilizing, brain killing blabla, but is in fact the most powerful criticism meant to address appalling discrimination and inequality of Roma within Member States yet.

Euro-Narnia itself is very, very far from doing what it encourages Member States to do. Rumors say that this powerful E-s and MSG package is heftily paid by the Masters that are known to be very generous with our money and happy to strongly enhance and forever preserve whatever they cook/think.  This treatment for Roma employment has been used for years and is well justified.  Hundreds of millions were spent for its design and delivery. It brought amazing results and joy for the careers and fortunes of a few Euro-Narnians. It also created a healthy dependency for the hefty fees of the Euro-Narnian projects of another few Roma experts – most of them not part of the Roma folk or with very limited interactions with those. Admirably it also provided the much needed, reports conferences and pompous and intricate rhetoric for the other millions of Roma who live in abject poverty or complete ignorance of Euro-Narnia  . Some other achievements are mentioned by the document:

“improvements in the educational participation and attainment have failed to translate into improving employment prospects among Roma. In some cases, the employment situation of Roma has even further deteriorated…”

For the feeble hearted you need not to worry. The document provides “promising practices” to make up for the slightly challenging (in vulgar English catastrophic) situation.  True, the mysterious “many positive practices” of the recent past were replaced by a few and rather doubtful “promising practices”. This is the climax of progress as in their amazing wisdom and humbleness the Masters elegantly hinted they accepted the opinion of some of the worst of folk- those that waste their time and effort in the Roma communities. We told the Masters that the level of failure of the Euro-Narnian projects is the only exceptional thing happening and they included our views and translated it into beautiful Euro-Narnian. This is how we ended up blessed with “promising practices”.

 “… quality temporary lodgings have been built with the involvement of the Roma community in France. In Germany, housing projects also include measures that promote the integration of Roma families in neighbourhoods. In Belgium, mediators work to gain trust of both Roma and non-Roma for acceptable housing interventions. In Hungary, cities are required to prepare a desegregation plan as part of city development strategies”

A pragmatic read (a cursed and thoroughly banned practice in Euro-Narnia during the previous lordship on Euro-Narnia lead by Barosolan and the mighty Viviane) will tell that in fact there is as usual nothing to write about. Let’s examine the concrete achievements :

  1. “quality temporary lodging built with the help of Roma” – blessed be their hearts as it is well know the Roma need quality temporary lodging and not old fashioned stupid solid, permanent housing.
  2. measures that promote integration in neigbourhoods” – nothing is more useful when you face hunger and freezing than reading that promoting measures for integration are taken by Euro-Narnia. The fact that nowadays integration is not done in stables or working camps but in neighborhoods is another huge step forward.
  3. “mediators work to gain trust for acceptable housing interventions” is as good of an indicator of good housing for Roma as anything else including a requirement desegregation plan as part of city development strategies.

But why stop here with achievements. The Masters of Euro-Narnia hailed a few years ago that the new anti-discrimination framework represented a quantum leap forward. At that moment it seemed irrelevant for the Gods of Euro-Narnia that quantum physics deal with the tiniest of the worlds and is considered by the experts to be very complicated to comprehend as “our brains are not wired to understand it”.  Anyway this new reports makes clear the monumental dimension of the quantum leap.

Thirteen years after the EU’s landmark anti-discrimination directives were adopted in 2000, discrimination against Roma is still widespread.

Comprehending what the Masters of Euro-Narnia think and do is not for our feeble minds. Our brains are not wired to understand it as proven by another masterful paragraph:

The Decade for Roma Inclusion has been a strong inspiration for the EU Framework.

Even the most optimistic expert will not put the number of Roma who heard about the Decade at more than 0.01 % of the entire population. If you ignore those paid to promote the Decade it is very unlikely that more than 1% will consider the Decade a success. You need to be really delusional to consider it inspiring. Having the Decade as an inspiration for the EU Framework is like saying that the main goal of your life is to master toilet training. It sounds great if you commit to it as a precocious 1-2 years old but is really pathetic and hard to be taken seriously any other time.

Worm and The projectors

13 Jan

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Vierme ( Worm) is ten and is responsible for making money for his family. He steals scrap metal and whatever else he can whenever he can. There are 6 other siblings in his family he is the oldest and the hardest working of all. He is teaching two other brothers how to collect scrap metal. No running water in his home/shack – they steal electricity. Children caught stealing are not prosecuted. If caught he gets a beating. He has lice and scabies.

There is no work for his mother. His father is in prison – he was caught stealing scrap metal. If she steals the children will be left by themselves. No matter how much she tries it is unlikely she will get a job.

There are many families similar to Vierme’s that live on the outskirts of many villages/cities. Access to these families is hard especially during November to March and whenever else there are heavy rains as the roads turn into mud.

These children should be taken to school by a school mediator.The salary of a school mediator is around 150 EUR per month. She/he (it is a rare case when a male has this job) has little incentive to go take children like Vierme to school – it takes a long time to get there, her clothes and shoes will get filthy/destroyed and many times she will have to face  angry and frustrated parents – sometimes people that are drunk or on drugs. Vierme’s mother needs him to collect scrap metal more than he needs him in school.

Teachers do not want Vierme in their class. He started with a huge gap compared to the other children and he would need lots of extra attention to catch-up. Most of the time he stinks, he is dirty and can pass to everybody else in the class lice and scabies. Teachers’ salaries are terrible around 200 EUR per month.

People in the local administration also have poor salaries. The EU funded project is not helping them much at all; it’s just more work for very little pay. There are huge amounts of money that are supposed to be used for the communities like Vierme’s community. People in the local administration that are supposed to distribute the aid think Vierme and his family are lazy, dirty foreigners.

The guys that ran the EU projects have salaries 10 to 20 times bigger than any of the above. Those are the projectors, the people that imagine how things will work; they write the reports about the achievements.

Vierme is in school. The school mediator takes the children to school, the teacher has a full class, is skilled, trained and helps these children to get a good quality education. The local administration is helping the community as it delivers aid to the most impoverished. Funding properly spent.

Bullshit. But this is the report that is considered the truth. And every single stakeholder has an interest to say it is true. The European Commission and the governments because the money is spent and they badly need something positive to show for their overall incompetence and disregard for the poorest of the poor, the projectors because the money is good, those in public administration to keep the pretense that they work for the people, the teacher and school mediator to keep their jobs and work as little as possible.

Gulliver’s travels took him to Balnibarbi and then Lagado. The academy of Lagado was famous for its projectors. The projectors tried to do amazing things such as taking the sunbeams out of cucumbers, store them in vials and use them whenever needed, building  houses starting from the roof,  ploughing with the help of the pigs … Art, literature, mathematics, linguistics, were all concerns of many projectors attempting similarly brilliant things. The academy was thriving and extending– at least 500 rooms in a series of building in the city. The city and its surroundings were becoming a ruin due to the many failed projects but the projectors were well paid to continue their jobs.

There were some hard working and skilled people in Lagado – the lord Munodi was one of them. He was known for his eminent services, integrity and honor. He was also considered by the elites to be the most ignorant and stupid person among the ruling elites as he had an “ill ear for music”.

I know many, many nowadays Munodis. Most in the civil society but also people that work for the European Commission and governments.  Smart, honest people that did or do some amazing things but fail to conform to the lip-service directives and poor users of Eurotalk. They are perceived as stupid and ignorant by the opportunists that couldn’t care less about their jobs but are very concerned about their careers –a good number of them are or end up in senior management positions.

There is wide agreement among these people (most within the Romanian civil society) that the EU Structural Funds targeting social inclusion, poverty reduction, employment, discrimination, education and many other fields are in a far too big proportion useless. That the thinking, design, the process of application and the implementation of the projects financed by EU money are flawed, stupid and sometimes sadistic.

Sadly most of the Munodis continue to work for or apply for EU funded projects. Unwillingly and some unwittingly, they legitimize a system that produce an unacceptable number of failures, fake achievements and corruption.

At the end of the day all of us lose. We waste public money. The credibility of the European Commission – the most educated, diverse and promising bureaucracy in Europe is crumbling and makes Europeans doubt a great achievement – the European Union. The civil society looks wasteful and money oriented and risks becoming completely dependent on money distributed by governments. In this way what should be the watch-dogs of the governments – the civil society organisations- become the lap-dogs of the politicians in power.

EU Funds should make a difference in the lives of many including poverty stricken children. At this moment, unfortunately , far too many of these funds, at least in Romania, seem to be working towards enacting one of the sarcastic metaphor of Jonathan Swift – Lagado.

There are exceptions when children like Vierme are taken to school by some kind and hard-working people. It is even more exceptional when teachers do work with children like him. But those are nothing but aberrations in a system that is profoundly flawed.

The situation of girls living in poverty like Vierme is even more complicated. There are cases when prostitution looks like best possible opportunity. Sadly, sometimes it is the only opportunity to escape a hellish life. I do not describe here a Roma problem but many of the children who are facing these problems are Roma.

There are solutions. We need to start with honesty and critical evaluation of why and where we failed. Or we can continue to find excuses, pay lip-service and prepare ourselves for Gulliver’s visit.

* The picture used is not of Vierme but of a child that has his faith

The good, the bad and the ugly

12 Jan

Zana (Goddess) is, logically, in heaven. She has a new track suit. The girls that needed clothes the most are now dressed warmly and are bubbly happy with their colorful clothes.

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Toto  and Adita ( it is going to be 5 years in March since I know both) organized the 57 boys that came for football – the discipline was much better than any gym class I saw in the school.

Adriana, Denisa, Nicoleta and Natalia (I know them for over 4 years now) helped with sorting and distributing clothes, shoes and boots for some other 16 very small children that came. All of them badly needed the help. Claudiu came also, he was on and off touch for the last 6 years- he is one of the first I started working with. He will be 17 this year, he looks at maximum 13-14. All things considered he is doing ok.  The life of the girls is also better.

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From time to time there is a new child that comes and steals something – a ball, a pair of shoes, socks, T-shirts. The results at school are not that great. Some of the children and many of the parents try to take advantage of me. A few manage.  Some talk crap and imagine ugly things about my motivation to help. Failure is a good part of doing this – it feels crappy every time but I didn’t find a way without it.

Many of the children from the ghetto expect to be disappointed. Expect the worst. Some are rather gifted at forcing out your ugly side. Creating routines takes time and is awfully frustrating. But it works. Not great but it works. Expecting that all those you are trying to help will be thankful it is both stupid and arrogant. Some will. Most don’t.

I spent my afternoon on Saturday and Sunday distributing clothes, food , toys, shoes to those that needed the most in a village next to Bucharest. Some of the children were barefoot or almost barefoot in the snow.

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The living conditions for many are appalling. Many of the children work long hours gathering metal scraps from a nearby dump.  I know that going once in a blue moon there doesn’t help and many of the children will end up uneducated, abused, violent and excluded. Will go again but I am not sure that I will manage to change anything fundamentally. I will try.

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I am not sure that taking pictures of the children is a good idea. It makes me uncomfortable but many times I wished to see some evidence seeing people talking enthusiastically about reports that I knew were bullshit. Long term detailed photo referencing I was told was the only acceptable -good method. Maybe there are other ways that could avoid some of the ugly talks related to picture taking that I hear once in a while.

The ugly is not only about the violence, prostitution, drugs, theft, abuses, garbage and abject poverty many of these children live with every day with. It is also about the projectors and the way we continue to waste public money – especially EU money. About this and how we seem to be living in one of Gulliver’s adventures in a next posting.

On bouncing balls, week-ends and the end of a long year

8 Dec

Saturday

Pisica(Cat) is happy with his new winter shoes, he tells everybody, individually, how cool he is as his boots are the only ones that are not black or white. Most of the boys ignore him – he is unfazed, his grin dangerously close to his ears.

Silviu is in a completely different class. He runs like a headless chicken all around the gym and yells that he has new boots. He couldn’t care less that there is a football game going on. He came again without socks – outside temperature is around 0 Celsius. He is the only child that regardless of how many socks we gave him he never has any. I put his new socks on – he is 10 but has problems to put his socks on. Mada helps me. Mada is a big shot and one of my main heroes; just a couple of weeks ago she organized an event full of national and international celebrities including the first dude that jumped from the space and his new and somewhat old parachute. We are lucky, this time Ionut- his cousin- made sure he washed his feet before coming. We didn’t have the same luck last week.

Everybody from the smaller children group eats fruit or cake but Dario and Gabi. Dario is happy. She has 2 bananas and sings to them.

Dario

Gabi doesn’t sing well – he is more into fashion -busy wearing his bananas as horns.

Gabi

The older boys are playing football. There are around 60 children in the gym. Most of them I know them  for 4-5 years now. Feels weird that they are so well behaved. Just two years ago would have been impossible to have more than 20 children at the same time in the gym.

One of the boys’ mothers came to see me. She will go to prison together with his older brother. Drugs related felony. She wanted to make sure that we know in order to pay more attention to him as she wants him to stay and do well in school. Is not the first case and  as weird as that might sound I think this is a much better indicator of success than most EU reports about the awesome feats of heroic social inclusion that happen in the Roma communities, on Mars and in Euro-Narnia.

Sunday

Bibi, the girl that can’t hear, is happy with her gifts – she is 8 today. Mitica (another Mitica) is almost 11 he doesn’t know how to read. He is smart, he learned fast what I showed him. I asked Dario and Alex to compete in a math test – multiplication tables- they did great. Stefan is ok with his math he is in the 7 grade despite the fact he is almost 15 y.o. Denisa is lazy but she did fine with her Romanian homework. Mario and Esmeralda worked with numbers. Their language skills are not that great.

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The new trend among the boys at the center is rubber balls. I do not know what is wrong with boys/men but rubber balls seem to touch instantly our pleasure center. Only if you say rubber ball and we start drooling.  Give us one and our cognitive processes go into :

Rubberrrr Baaaaaall !!!

Let’s see does it bounce?

Yes it does! It bounces, it bounces, it bounces!

Let’s try again, let’s see maybe will bounce again !

It does it does, it does !

How about now, will it bounce now ?

Yeees it bounceeees !

How about now ? Can it bounce again ?

Yes it does, it does, it does !

Will it bounce against the door ? Yeeeey it does !

Does it still bounce the same against the floor ? Maybe it doesn’t ! Let’s check !

Yeeey it does, it bounces, it bounces !…

We can starve ourselves to death if we do not lose the ball or break something.

I think this explains also the process through which we become utter idiots when watching football, basketball and anything involving bouncing things. Women seem not to understand this at all. Their world must be terribly boring.

We cooked together – healthy cookies. Everybody loved them. Washing the dishes afterwards was fun as everybody wanted to help with it.

Washing

I talked to Alex’s grandmother – Alex’s story is even worst than I knew. Esmeralda ( she is the smallest at the center) didn’t want to let us go. It sucks whenever this happens – and it happened enough times to know there is no good way to deal with it.

I will be 44 this week.

There have been lots of struggles this year. I had my good share of frustrations. I still made lots more mistakes than I think reasonable. Still unhappy with my own discipline. Had my share of meeting crappy and stupid people and I behaved like a crappy and stupid one a number of times. I saw lots of unfair and painful things not just in the ghetto or at the centers for institutionalized children.

I met some great people. Experienced some pretty amazing things. I am very thankful for lots of things that happened to me and for the fact that I was able to help as much as I did. I think I am a better person than last year. Wish to be able to say the same next year.

What do I want for my birthday ? Everything that could help these children.  And I need advice about a tutorship scheme that could work for them and make the school better.

And Happy Holidays – no more posts at least until after the Christmas !

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