In the aftermath of the Euro Elections, and the celebrations of the strange bunch of ‘don’t really know what our manifesto or policies are, except that we hate Romanians’ known as UKIP, I’ve been travelling to Romania to – hopefully – take love and aid since the beginning of February 1990, the first time was 5 weeks after the Ceausescu’s ‘execution’ (Was it ‘staged’? – who knows: their ‘graves’ in their home village are empty?) – but I fell in love with a country so alien to the United Kingdom, because of the unbelievable poverty there. To an average Western European, it’d be like discovering that Switzerland was, in fact third world, just a short distance away, or people in New York finding that North Carolina was third world….
It was – then – maybe 50 years behind western Europe in development, and the orphanages, well… On one of the early visits to Romania (I’ve been 127 times since February ’90) I’d challenge any macho man- including Farage prounced Garage – who is proud he’d never cried, to have gone to an orphanage in Tirgu Mures, and not wept uncontrollably, wondering what on earth can we do to help these children?
Burned into my mind forever were two particular areas of the orphanage, known, I recall, as ‘The Castle’. One was the ‘room’ where the mentally and physically handicapped young people and children were kept: naked, sitting in their own shit and urine, in excess 0f-20C winter temperatures, hosed down once a week with ice cold water. They ‘lived’ in bare, concrete ‘pens’, not dissimilar to a pig farm.
The other was a room packed with rusting iron cots, just enough room between the cots to pass through, with – mostly – four children and babies to a cot. Again, sitting in shit and urine soaked clothes and mattresses that had soaked it up. One little boy was ‘standing’ up: he drew my eye immediately: no arms, no legs, and just bulbous lumps of flesh where his eyes should have been…. he stank, understandably. Through a translator, I asked how often the kids had nappies changed, and were washed? Never. I asked how often they were picked up and cuddled. The question seemed to shock the lady staff member. ‘Never? Why would we?’ I asked what had happened to him, why he was like he was. He was failed ‘knitting needle’ abortion attempt by his mother, who presumably couldn’t ‘afford’ him, but she failed to kill him, just totally destroyed him for life.
I was utterly wrecked, weeping so hard there was no point in trying to dry my face or wipe my nose, as I picked him up out of the cot and cuddled him. He laughed: it was his first ever hug. If it was possible to cry more than I already was, I did….
Romania, now, has, in parts, a glamorous ‘facade’ of expensive malls – selling Armani, Boss, Cartier, etc., cleaned up buildings in the streets where foreigners would go, 10 years ago, in the hope that by looking cosmetically ‘good’ the EU would look favourably at their application to become a member state. The EU did, as you know. But go back a few streets, behind the facade, and in many ways, nothing’s changed very much from 25 years ago.
To me, Romania is another of my ‘homes’, so when I hear that git Farage, all I want to do is punch his lights out, and take him back 24 years to that orphanage. Or NOW, take him to central Bucuresti (the right way to spell it!), where the governmental corruption is such that in many ways, not a lot has changed.
I have hundreds of lovely Romanian friends: people who’d sacrifice their meal to give it to you. They are lovely people, but many still live so far BELOW the poverty line, it’s almost impossible to survive – unless they can get to the west….
Yes, there are ‘dodgy’ Romanians: but there are dodgy Germans, French, Brits…. the Romanians at least have some justification for their reputation. This article is from Channel 4, just 11 days ago:
- http://www.channel4.com/news/romania-tunnels-bucharest-orphans-photo (you might have to copy and paste it into your browser)
It’s horrendous. Gara du Nord – I know it well – right in the city centre, where, as the article says, you can get trains direct to Brussells, ironically. The Romanians in the article live just a few YARDS from Gara du Nord, the entrance to their ‘home’ a hole in the road. There are probably thousands of them in Bucuresti alone, many more in the other big cities. Is it any wonder young, and not-so-young people like these, are desperate to escape? Is it any wonder that they find the transition from what you’ve just seen, to living in ‘civilised’ UKIP-land? I’m probably one of the most ‘un-political’ people you could meet, though history my family would have been blue: but man, do I get angry when I hear/see (it was filmed, too) the interview of Farage a couple of weeks ago, where the interviewer would have won by a knockout early in the piece, if it were a fight? He’s just an ignorant git: his utterly appalling put down of the President of the EU, the Belgian whose name is, I think, van Rompuy, a couple of years ago, shows him in his real light….
Is it any wonder that when finally, they can ‘get out of hell’, these young people who were turfed out of the orphanages, as the EU said they had to close before Romania could join, don’t quite behave like idiot UKIP politicians? They need to be accepted in the same way as Farage has accpeted his alien – his wife: perhaps he’s lucky that she came – I imagine – from West Germany, and not East Germany…. And would I want him living next door to me? I don’t think so…..
I only saw this article online this morning, and it made me weep again. And no, I don’t apologise for using the word shit: excrement or faeces makes it sound so much more refined….