I have been told that I cannot say I still have a blog if it’s not updated. So because I love this place and I kind of miss writing, here is a short post on where we are. Plus, I want to be able to say that I still blog – I hear  bloggers make money in Romania  🙂

After eight years of studying in US we returned to Romania and  we are trying to readjust to living in our own country. It is a strange feeling to be without a  “home” in your home country. On this bumpy way coming home we find hope in the people with whom we protest for a better country, in people we bike with in overcrowded cities, in children who don’t accept injustices and speak up for their rights.

We do have hope but, for the time being, we are silently looking around learning and searching  for a place where we can make a difference.

The current “Gypsy  problem” in France brings back in mind, to help us find different ways of analyzing the situation,  some forgotten  pieces from history.

In 40’s Marshal Antonescu was trying to solve another “gypsy problem” in Romania…”all Gypsies in Bucharest must be removed. But before removing them, we must consider where to take them and what to do with them. A solution might be to wait until the marshes of the Danube are drained and build some Gypsy villages there and let them fish….Another solution would be to negotiate with the big landowners. There…is a considerable shortage of workers in Bărăgan. We could build these villages there…at least some houses and barracks, a sanitation system, stores, inns, etc. We should set up a census and arrest all of them en masse, and bring them to these villages. We will build three-four villages, each for 5–6,000 families, and install guards around them so they cannot get out. They will live their life there and find work there too.”(Ciuca)

In 1942 roughly 25,000 Romanian Roma (around 12% of the total Romanian Roma population) were “evacuated” to Transnistria. “The May 1942 census, through its definition of the two categories of Roma, also showed the criteria for “selection” of those to be deported. It was based on nomadism and, in the case of the sedentary Roma, on criminal convictions, theft, and the lack of means to subsist. In some documents authorities also referred to the necessity of ridding villages and towns of the poor Roma population without an occupation or trade and no means of subsistence, without any possibility to earn a living, and those who made a living from theft and begging.”(International Commission on the Holocaust in Romania)

The “Gypsy colonies” were created just for  them in Transnistria. “Due to the malnutrition, some of the Gypsies—and these make up the majority—have lost so much weight that they have turned into living skeletons. On a daily basis—especially in the last period— ten to fifteen Gypsies died. They were full of parasites. They were not paid any medical visits and they did not have any medicine. They were naked…and they didn’t have any underwear or clothing. There are women whose bodies…were [completely] naked in the true sense of the word. They had not been given any soap since arriving; this is why they haven’t washed themselves or the single shirt that they own.

In general, the situation of the Gypsies is terrible and almost inconceivable. Due to the misery, they have turned into shadows and are almost savage. This condition is due to the bad accommodations and nutrition as well as the cold. Because of hunger…they have scared the Ukrainians with their thefts. If there had been some Gypsies in the country who were stealing…out of mere habit, here even a Gypsy who used to be honest would begin stealing, because the hunger led him to commit this shameful act.” (Achim, p.26-28)

In Spring 1944 the deported Roma  returned to Romania.  11,000 of them never made it back. Those that made it, came back to a country where, for another 45 years, were not even recognized as an ethnic minority.


International Commission on the Holocaust in Romania, Final Report of the International Commission on the Holocaust in Romania: The Deportation of the Roma and their treatment in Transnistria, 2004, p.5-6

Achim, Viorel (ed.) Documente privind deportarea ţiganilor în Transnistria. Bucharest, Editura Enciclopedică, 2004,vol. 2: no. 249, (Report December 5, 1942)  p. 26-28

Ciucă,Marcel-Dumitru, et al., (eds.), Stenogramele şedinţelor Consiliului de Miniştri. Guvernarea Ion Antonescu,  Bucharest, Arhivele Naţionale ale României, 1998, vol. 2, p.181

My first steps in academic life in US were guided by two wonderful professors Chip Bruce and Ann Bishop. They were the idealist persons in my life that overestimated me big time.

They fostered the spark for the search of meaning in me and now this search is taking us on separate paths. I’m scared because I don’t know if my direction is already set at the right angle to make sure I become what I can be (like in prof. Frankl‘s diagram above) but this looks like a good time to figure it out.

Ann and Chip, with humility, I thank you both.

The Lion’s Roar, A Community and Compassion Initiative tells a sad story.

In 2005 Laura Simms, a US storyteller and activist,  faced with the tragic reality of caged starving animals in a Zoo from a small Romanian town, had a plan:

“within four years the zoo will be up to EU standards, the animals will be healthy and Buhusi itself will have a practical and self-sustaining plan for industry, cultural activities, tolerance and tourism.”

After a few months the project initiators learned first hand about “greed and a kind of pride that stood between change and comfort” of local people responsible for the zoo. Players and partners were reevaluated in 2006 only to be challenged again in January 2007 as Romania was entering the EU. The Buhusi Zoo did not meet the European standards at that time and was closed down.  The initial dreams had to be reduced to a main dream of finding new homes for the animals. Two years later the last of the initial 45 animals found a better place to live.

The Lion’s Roar shared the story of this project and stories about the animals with love and compassion. Bella’s story is just one of them, one that has a happy ending.

The four-year plan was successful. At least for most of the animals. It took the hard work and the dedication of passionate people to save the animals from a reality that was killing them.

The questions that I have now are: who has the plan, how many years and where we could find the passion to fight for the people in Buhusi (and other places in Romania) whose lives during Communism and after resembled, in so many ways,  the lives of caged creatures.

Laura Simms tells stories on “How to find Romania“. I don’t know if she adds anything from The Lion’s Roar experience to her grandmother’s stories but I am very interested to listen to the (human) stories that she collected during her work in Romania.

me on Twitter