Happy birthday to you !

5 Aug

You are born. Your parents live on welfare, small criminality and garbage recycling. During your first years you will be used for begging and you will start with a significant development handicap due to horrific nutrition and living conditions. You will be significantly more days sick than the average child. The worst will be your first 2 years. Accordingly, your brain development will be affected and you’ll have a high chance for a lower than average IQ.

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Slovakia-2013  sugar diet and abject poverty 

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Serbia 2013 – begging 

ChildrenMofleni1

 Romania – playing in a a toxic creek near the garbage dump

Garbage recycling in a very toxic environment will be your next job – starting as soon as you are 3 or 4.  If you are cute, disabled or you know how to play an instrument you might escape recycling and carry on with begging in the streets for much longer. There is a significant chance you will end up on the streets, sleeping in sewage systems or in a children institution if you have too many siblings or whenever your parents end up in prison.

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Albania 2013- lunch break from sorting garbage     

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Turkey2013 – garbage, and water supply

By 8-9 you are “eligible” to contribute to your family needs by stealing from stores. By 10, prostitution and drug trafficking seem like normal occupations. By 12 you are at a very high risk of being used by criminal gangs as you are to young to be prosecuted. Before you are 14, you are likely to  consider prostitution, stealing or selling drugs as ways to make fast money and escape living on or from garbage. Most children of your age are already involved in some or all of these criminal activities.

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Underage prostitute Romania 2013

Kindergarten – in the unlikely case you went –  and then school are going to be bad experiences. You will have to deal with the fact that average children hate you, that they call you names and make fun of your limited vocabulary, hygiene, clothes and smell. Teachers will put you as far away as possible from being seen by anybody and they will say nasty things to you or at best ignore you.

You will not fit in. You will not understand the purpose of studying. The probability that there will be somebody willing to encourage you and help you with school is very small. You will be moved to different places- sometimes abroad- and you will abandon school a number of times before the educational gap between you and the average children will become, pragmatically, impossible to recover.

You will grow up aggressive and illiterate.

Aggressive

Montenegro ghetto

You will witness lots of violence around you and you will think violence is part of normality. You will see prison as a prerequisite to becoming a “real” adult as many around you will be constantly going and coming out of prison. You will see lots of drugs and people abusing drugs. From time to time people you know will be killed in violent acts or by drugs.

At around 16 you will be angry and frustrated with everything around you. You will start to understand that you are in a trap and to escape it you need to go against all expectations and sometimes all odds. It will seem more realistic to you to “win the lottery” with a lucrative break-in, theft, or robbery, or by dealing drugs or trying out prostitution.

For you, success will be represented by those very few that got rich from being involved in drugs, theft and criminality; those who are uneducated like you but have a lot more money than the average citizen in your country. It is a lot more likely you will try to follow their model than going back to school for another 8 to 16 years.

There is a huge chance will end up in prison before reaching 21. As a male there is a high chance you will be raped while in prison. As a female, by 21 you most likely are already a single mother. You are hundreds of times more likely to have been raped, been used as a prostitute, have prostituted yourself for survival, and to be HIV positive than than the average girl in in your country.

You have almost no chance to integrate into mainstream society after 21. Around 90% of those like you that were sentenced once will return to prison –most of them quite soon after their first release. This will happen again and again.

After coming back from prison it is very unlikely there will be anything to do for you besides garbage recycling or getting involved again in criminal activities. You are at a very high risk to become addicted to drugs or alcohol.

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Addict begging- Albania 2013

You will live in a slum and you will have children that will follow the same cycle as you did.

You will end up your life as you started it. You will depend on miserable welfare handouts, begging and garbage recycling. You will die at least 20 years younger than the average citizen of your country.

You started like this (child begging in Bosnia 2013):

And you will have a very high chance to become this ( addict sleeping -2 meters from the school gate Romania 2013):

This is the cycle of life for far too many children and their families. I work now with some children that are the third lost generation.

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Generations lost -garbage recycling Romania  2013

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 Generations lost – beggars and recycling Italy

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  Generations lost – garbage recycling Bulgaria

You – my dear reader – you might think that these experiences are specific to a certain minority. One that some of you hate. You are wrong. The majority of those living in the slums are poor people and not ethnic minorities. And yes, this could have happened to you.

But you are lucky. If you are reading this, there is almost no chance that you were born in a ghetto. You think that this has nothing to do with you. The idiotic policies, the incompetent bureaucrats, the corrupt politicians, those dealing with child protection, they are responsible.

Some of them are indeed guilty. As are some of the parents of these children. And some of the many racists are guilty too. But YOU are the one who can change things.

We can break this cycle. I know how it can be done, and it’s been done before. Not systemically, but in many places on a small scale.

If we don’t make changes, the ghettos will explode. The number of people in the ghettos is increasing at a very fast rate. And sooner or later this will affect you or your children. Your worst fears about drugs and violence can become reality.

We need YOU. We need to put pressure on those who should be acting, and to support those who are already doing something. You can help by signing this petition: http://www.childpact.org/sign-our-petition/

You can also volunteer or get involved in other ways. If interested please contact me or see http://www.childpact.org

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11 Responses to “Happy birthday to you !”

  1. alianais August 5, 2013 at 9:18 am #

    Reblogged this on alianais and commented:
    “You – my dear reader – you might think that these experiences are specific to a certain minority. One that some of you hate. You are wrong. The majority of those living in the slums are poor people and not ethnic minorities. And yes, this could have happened to you”.

    • Bogdan August 6, 2013 at 5:42 am #

      Darling have you visited these places? dunno about other countries but in Romania those are the enthnic minority! that is, one minority that simply refuses to integrate in the society and not for any reason, but simply that sending kids to beg is more profitable than sending them to school.. the goverment has no real solutions to this situation, because hey: they have rights too, ironically enough and the children are thought about their rights so that the police can’t take them away..

      aside from this, every country has cases like this, let us therefore please not send the wrong message about some particular countries .

      • valeriucnicolae August 6, 2013 at 5:24 pm #

        Bogdan – the question is if you did. I can take you to some of this communities were the majority are not from any ethnic minority …

      • Nikolina August 7, 2013 at 12:35 pm #

        There is always a possibility to create policies that would encourage people to change life habits that drag on for generations…Sometimes these people come from a minority sometimes from a majority: there is no rule for poverty! I have seen both. These policies are not magical stick that would change the situation overnight it will take a generation or two but starting to create and implement them is the first step to better life. Regardless of which ethnic group these people or children come from: a) they deserve better; b) a society is as good as it’s lowest class!
        people at large prefer to live in their own community and safety net and refuse to see further. Ups mistake: they only look at the wealthier ones and wish to have their wealth, never think of those that have a lot less or nothing…
        I would also like to send a message here to anybody reading this: if you are not willing or ready to help, DO NOT stand on the way of people who want to do that!

  2. Cristina August 5, 2013 at 9:02 pm #

    I think the EU is more interested in solving this matter than local political systems. I would take this petition to them, especially since they want to give out funds to these poor countries and help organizations… Hope this helps!

    • disunion August 6, 2013 at 10:23 pm #

      Hmmm!

  3. chad evans wyatt August 6, 2013 at 12:11 am #

    Breathtakingly eloquent. Thanks, Nicolae

  4. Nelly Akobia September 2, 2013 at 7:05 am #

    Thank you, Valeriu, for this piece!!! It is such a pity that even among the community of human rights and child rights defenders not everybody is on the same page and still people have the mindset of the middle ages thinking that only bad and lazy people can be chronically poor and that they really choose to live in unbearable conditions. I hope pieces like this and the discussion that follows will gradually make us all more aware of the real human suffering in our neighborhoods, cities and countries. Thank you once again!

    • valeriucnicolae September 2, 2013 at 5:12 pm #

      Thanks Nelly. Will publish soon country focused ones…

  5. lilisimcov July 18, 2014 at 7:25 am #

    Citesc și recitesc articolele de pe blogul tău… Impresionează și ating!… Pentru mine, persoana care sunt în INCLUZIUNE de vreo 20 de ani, e foarte important să aud/văd/cunosc exemple/modele de integrare socială și nu numai!… Caut similitudini(nu pe probleme ci pe fapte concrete, care duc la soluționarea lor!) cu ceea ce se întâmplă în țara mea… Găsesc. Puține dar sunt! Mă rog să-ți dea Domnul suficiente forțe ca să nu te oprești din drum! Multă baftă, Valeriu!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Imagine just for a few seconds… | ChildPact - August 14, 2013

    […] Just for a few seconds imagine you were born in extreme poverty. Then your life will follow the path described in this heart-breaking article by Valeriu Nicolae. […]

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