Ioana Moldovan

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One well

 

The Hetea village is located in the centre of Romania. It is home to 136 Roma families who have access to only one water well. “Life here in Hetea is kinda rough”, says Gheorghe Burzus, the leader of the community. At the local elections, Burzus struck a deal with the challenging candidate or mayor: he would convince the Roma to vote for him in exchange for the mayor’s office help to dig a second fountain. That deal never came through.

At school, teachers tell the parents their children are filthy. “But how could they get cleaned if the better part of the day is taken up by queuing for water”, Burzus asks. Other promises were also forgotten not only by this mayor, but by all of them throughout recent history. The Roma were promised wood to consolidate their houses and build pit latrines. They were promised jobs, but the only work they get are mandatory hours for social welfare checks.

They try to supplement their earnings by picking mushrooms and selling them in the bigger towns and cities. Lack of permits to do so leads to confiscation of their merchandise and fines from the police. In communist times, the Roma were working in agriculture. They do not have any papers to prove that. Pensions benefits are thus only a dream.