Praise where praise is due, with strings attached

Posted on February 12, 2013

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It’s been a very long time since I wrote on my little blog. I never gave up, but I was too caught up with life to breathe in and write about the things I care about.

Well, I couldn’t have found a better reason to start writing again than to bring up the topic of someone else giving up a cause. It’s a cause I’ve cared about theoretically for a long time, but only took a more personal and active role with in the last year because of people like Valeriu Nicolae – this is about him.

Please see his depressing (and pragmatic, real and sincere) article. If this is a new topic for you, look over his blog – he’s been writing a lot about the huge problems with Roma inclusion programs, EU funds and everything associated with it. I won’t dwelve into his articles, he’s a lot more eloquent than I could ever be:

http://valeriucnicolae.wordpress.com/2013/02/12/why-i-quit/

I really hope Valeriu won’t quit. He represents a lot more than just the leader of one of the most successful NGOs in Romania. His work with the Policy Center and the Ferentari shelter has proven that, with a lot of personal involvement (add a lot of time and a big chunk of money), there is hope for children who are considered lost. For kids whose childhood has been hijacked by poverty, disease, prostitution and crime. Hopefully, Valeriu’s example will inspire more and more people to support these children. Cases like Totonel’s (http://www.policycenter.eu/en/recomandare-de-film) will hopefully move things and provide the much needed fuel for change.

Coincidentally, only yesterday I witnessed in Targu Mures a much too common incident regarding an “educated” Romanian and a family of young, delinquent Roma. I wasn’t shocked by the language used by the “educated” one, wasn’t even shocked by the curses thrown at him by the young mother holding her infant in her arms nor by the piece of ice thrown at the old man. What shocked me was the overall approval of the “educated” man’s actions by the people I was with. The all too common attitude of  “the police can’t do anything about these people; they should beat the hell out of them, no questions asked, at least they’ll learn by fear”.

It’s a very sad issue. A defining issue for today’s Romania, and the overall EU. I know the solution won’t come from Valeriu’s NGO or the actions of a handful of people. I don’t know the solution, but I know it will take decades to advance. But there are few people that can raise awareness on these topics. These are the people that understand the system and have the levers to fight with it. The people that have the courage to stand their ground. To not back away when their tires are slashed by the organized crime in the Roma communities or when others accuse them of a hidden agenda. The people that inspire others to act. People I can use as an example in my small and perhaps insignificant fight against racism in Romania.

Valeriu, I know you won’t quit completely. I know you won’t give up on the kids in Ferentari. But I ask you to continue to aim high. To aim for structural changes, not just individual solutions. To continue being an inspiration, and not only advance the cause of the kids in Ferentare, but of all the kids whose childhood risks being stolen from them.

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