Sunday, March 25, 2007

Romanian children suffer as parents come here

The headmaster glanced around the classroom. "Hands up, those of you with parents who are working abroad," he told them. A forest of arms shot up; out of a class of 21 pupils at the school in Liteni in northern Romania, only three children kept their hands on the desks.

"Who do you stay with?" the headmaster, Gheorghe Moga, asked. "My grandmother," replied one of the 10-year-olds with his hand in the air. "My cousin," said an 11-year-old. Mr Moga went around the room. Grandmother, cousin, grandmother, cousin...

Romania, a nation mired in poverty, is counting the true cost of living on the edge of western Europe. Hundreds of thousands of parents are leaving their children with friends or relatives in order to go abroad in search of work.

The adults, who often send back money for toys, mobiles and school books, believe that they are making a sacrifice for the good of their children, but the Romanian authorities say their new wealth often comes at a terrible price. Many of the children left behind have become miserable and withdrawn and some, unable to cope without their parents, have killed themselves.

Last March, Razvan Suculiuc walked home from school in the village of Ciortesti, fed the chickens, went to the woodshed and hanged himself. He was 10-years-old.

In February, eight-year-old Constantin Jitaru hanged himself in Uricani village in western Romania while his mother was working in -Germany. He had been performing well at school but apparently missed his mother.

In November, an 11-year-old boy killed himself in Mosna village, in the Moldova region. He and his two brothers had been left with another family by his parents, both of whom were working abroad.

Hat Tip: FeenXP.

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