I have a neighbor who I bonded with when I first got to my site. He came over one evening when we were having dinner outside (when my host brother was in town) and I introduced them to the wonderful game of UNO. It’s been awhile since we’ve really had a chat, and this morning when I was walking to school he was outside the bar and said he was walking in that direction and he’d like to walk with me.
With Easter right around the corner a lot of people are getting ready for the festivities that begin tomorrow evening. They’re preparing food and cleaning up the cemetery, and Victor said he’d helped clean up a bit yesterday. I then asked him if he had family buried in the cemetery and if relatives were going to come visit because that’s what they do here a week after Easter- they come visit the cemetery of their loved ones and bring food and drinks and I’m not sure what else (more will come when that actually happens). He said his family probably wasn’t going to come because out of the 6 of the children, only 3 remain, and most of his family is buried in a neighboring village. This then brought him to tell the story of how his family got to Moldova.
His father was Polish. During the war (I asked him if it was WWII but I’m not so sure) he was captured and became a POW. There he learned how to build and install windows and doors. At some point he escaped and walked all the way to Moldova by foot. He ended up in Zaicani (the neighboring village) and that is where he eventually decided to make himself a home. He then got married and they had 6 children. Like I said, 3 have died, 3 remain. One of his sister’s remains in Zaicani and another in Moscow. From what I understood, his sister in Moscow used to send money to Zaicani to his sister and then he would get some. Now there is no money, and he can’t afford to go to Zaicani, and she can’t afford to come here. Either his wife has died or is also working abroad and his children have moved out of the village: thus leaving him all alone. One day he told me “today I was happy to walk and talk with him because I had somewhere to be and so did he: and it was the morning so I assumed he hadn’t been drinking yet. When I told him I enjoyed our conversation and I like talking to him when he’s not drinking, his response was, “but I have.”which means “I love you” in Russian. At that point I decided to take a step back from him because I began to realize he is very lonely and he drinks a lot of alcohol. So
It breaks my heart that most of the people from Moldova leave their families behind. This culture is one that is SO based on traditions and family that when all of the family is gone, often all that is left (in many minds) is alcohol. There is no work here (especially in the villages) so in order to survive the locals must leave. Families are torn apart and many Moldovan’s don’t want to come back because they are afraid they won’t be able to leave again, or they are illegally working abroad. People are sad because life is hard and they miss their family and often many people are just looking for someone to talk to. My host parents miss their children so much and I am so happy that I was able to connect them via Skype but I know it’s not the same as having their children in person… and in the same country (even better: the same village). Holidays a hard time to be away from family (trust me). So while many people look forward to them, others are not looking forward to them because they still won’t be with their children, or their parents.
Today I went around the room in one of my classes and asked the kids, “How are you today?”. Most students responded, “I am happy” and when I asked why they said, “because this weekend is Easter and we won’t have school next week”. However, one girl said, “I am sad because it is Easter.” I didn’t understand why this would make her sad and she said, “I am sad because it is Easter and my mother won’t be returning home from Moscow.”
Out of 350 students in my school, 200 have BOTH parents abroad, 100 have one parent abroad, and the rest have their parents in the village but there is no work which means no money.
(Ok, sorry for that. I just watched, “The Secret Life of Bees” and it got me all emotional and put me deep in thought. This was supposed to be a short post).