Proiectul “Te iubeste mama!” menit sa faciliteze comunicarea audio-vizuala gratuita online intre copiii ramasi in Romania si parintii acestora, care sunt la munca in Italia. Scopul principal este acela de a preveni si diminua numarul de cazuri sociale in randul copiilor ramasi acasa si sustinerea rolului parental la distanta./Comunicazione audio-visiva a distanza; uno strumento di sostegno alla genitorialità transnazionale: si rivolge alle mamme e ai papà che hanno i figli e la famiglia in un altro Paese, accompagnandoli nel difficile compito di conciliare la vita lavorativa in Italia con le esigenze della famiglia lontana.
Emigration after the communist period radically changed Romanian society. What are the social and psychological effects which the new generation, having lost its way between the two worlds, is going through at the present time? Romania not only lost a significant amount of the workforce, but also some of the love: the love of parents who left to work abroad, and who left their children behind in order to ensure a better life for them. Sometimes, the price paid by the families whose members live at great distances from each other because of economic reasons is much too great. Painfully great.
The tragedy of these families gave an impetus to members of Romanian communities everywhere to take up attitudes through various actions, timidly but surely, when faced with the large-scale phenomenon caused by mass migration.
The Romanian Women’s Association in Italy was established in Milan in 2011 by Silvia Dumitrache. It is a structure for social and cultural promotion which supports the integration of Romanians in Italian society, with the aim of helping them to maintain connections with Romania. The project “Mother Loves You!” (Te iubește mama!) launched by this association is a method of rebuilding long-distance relationships between parents and children with the help of free audio-visual communication.
There are between 100,000 and 300,000 children who have at least one parent working abroad, the exact number not being known precisely. Of the more than 1,200,000 Romanians who are in Italy for work, there are over 130,000 women with an average age of 40 in the north of the country. According to the data published by UNICEF and the Federation of Child Protection NGOs (Federația Organizațiilor Neguvernamentale pentru Copii), 15% of the families in Romania have at least one member who is abroad for work. If the father is abroad, the children will not see him for two to four years in 21% of the cases, and 28% for longer periods. Among them, there are children aged from 2 to 6, a very vulnerable age.
There are also cases when children end up on the streets or in orphanages, run away from home, become targets for paedophiles, or disappear without a trace. The effects of the separation from parents are negative, the child entering various states of sadness and depression. Psychologists say that 80% of the children left at home become gravely ill longing after their parents, with repercussions on their personalities. Unnoticed or neglected depression, the thought that mother left because of them and not for them, may lead the children to wish for death, feeling responsible for the situation themselves. Children’s separation from one or both parents generates the awakening of a feeling of abandonment.
Half of the “white orphans” (Children Left Behind) of European migration come from Romania, and more than 100 children put an end to their lives because of their longing for their mothers.
This study demonstrates that both integration in the country of destination, and reintegration in the country of origin, are complex processes, which should be adequately supported by intervention policies.
Supported by the “Mother Loves You!” project, children in Romania can come to the library, normally following a schedule established with the parents working abroad. Visual contact, spending a longer time together, with the possibility of helping children with their homework, for example, maintaining normal relations and communication are important for the parents and vital for the children. Communication via videoconferences will have beneficial effects on these children’s psyche and ulterior evolution.
Giving psychological help both to the children and to the parents who are far from their families and country of origins is important and necessary. Even from 2005, the diagnosis “Italy Syndrome”, has been used in the international medical environment.
“Italy Syndrome is an acute depressive form affecting female workers from Eastern Europe, especially Romanian and Moldovan, who come to Italy in order to care for our families, and leave their own children without being able to see them for years on end. This diagnosis was first used in 2005 by two psychiatrists in the Ukrainian locality of Ivano-Frankivsk, who noticed a grave form of depression of social origin among the women who worked abroad. It is not just chance that it was discovered three years after the [migrant] amnesty of 2002 which led to the regularisation of the status of domestic workers.
Italy Syndrome – whose name is derived precisely from the fact that our country has the largest number of domestic carers (badante) in Europe – originates in two factors, both caused by a crisis of identity; these women do not perceive themselves any longer as ‘good mothers’ because of the prolonged distance from their own children. To this is added an ulterior crisis of identity which is connected to the dissolution of the country of origin in the post-Soviet period.
This depressive form can affect both carers residing in Italy, and their children in the countries of origin. The number of so-called ‘white orphans’ is growing in fact, children who are still in the stage of pre-adolescence, who end their days because of the difficulty in dealing with the distance.”
For the running of the project in the pilot stage in Romania, over a period of 6 months (September 2012 – February 2013), the National Association of Public Libraries signed partnership agreements with five county libraries in the areas intensely affected by the population’s migration abroad. These libraries had the quality of county coordinators: County Library “Alexandru and Aristia Aman” from Dolj, County Library “Christian Tell” from Gorj, County Library “G.T. Kirileanu” from Neamţ, Satu Mare County Library and County Library “I.G. Sbiera” from Suceava.
Following the involvement of the Dolj library in the pilot project, it was noticed that 232 children in 28 public libraries in the area communicated frequently with their parents who were working abroad, using the videoconference service.
What gave you the impetus to launch this project? Why did you call it what you did?
Love and affection are the key elements in a family to enable a child to grow up properly. You can invest how much money you want, you are not going to go far if the rearing of a child does not have love as its foundation. Mother Loves You! is a project that started from a necessity to put the members of a family in touch. In order to treat an issue in the long term, we need to go to the roots. In order to heal, we need to know the causes, and to have a desire to recognise them. And we still need to work very much on prevention.
We are all the orphans of migration, we are all affected by this phenomenon. It is not poverty that kills, as we are tempted to believe, but indifference. Communism does not equate with poverty, communism brainwashed us, polished our hearts, and dented our affective capacities. It touched the being on the inside.
The effect of migration we are talking about now is a chain reaction that affects three generations. The children born in the poverty of the system in Romania are prize-winners and they excel wherever they go. You find such children in the film that inspired me when I started this project (“Home alone, a Romanian tragedy” – “Singur acasă, o tragedie românească”, directed by Sorin Manu and Ionuț Cărpătorea). Many of those who stay home are prize-winners in school in order to satisfy the parents they hear over the phone, and whom they know to lead a tough life, working hard in order to send them to school, or to pay for their bread and give them a future. These children feel guilty and, to some extent, responsible, and they want to excel. Excellence of this kind must give pause for thought to society. The child was a prize-winner, but what good did it do? He could bring his mother home only by the sacrifice of his life.
Children are the pulse which society needs to read. These signals are under undervalued, they are taken only as disparate news, with no connections between them. It is only known that Romanians left because of poverty. It is terrible for your child to die during times of peace, in a country which is not involved in a conflict, and from causes that are not connected to poverty. We have a country of infinite resources. It is a strange phenomenon. When I created this project, I wanted for the sorrow of those women not to be useless. Their sorrow generates positive energies aimed at prevention, if possible, by political will and sincere accountability and with the aid of state institutions and social policies. Many eyes are turned from this project because it carries too much sorrow. Sorrow is harmful. We all are a consequence of a bankrupt system, we are victims. There are two Romanias – the one inside the borders, and the one formed by those who left abroad, two Romanias with different Romanians.
If we have identified the issue now, what can we do to solve the situation?
Our investment needs to be in matters of emergency, in supporting the reintegration of family, in supporting the long-distance parental role, in supporting the connection between family members. It is vital to cultivate our solidarity, everything needs to be cultivated, it is important to use positive energies and to win the credibility of the institution. We are the institution!
Letter from abroad: Mommy loves you! @Romania in contact
“Dear mother, dear father,
I brought home two ants today, they had gotten lost under my t-shirt. It was then that I understood ants are not perfect either.
And suddenly I was no longer so angry at people.
I understood there is a piece missing from the soul of each one of us, and we struggle all our lives to sew it back again.
I understand that you did not abandon me, but just went far away for a while, just like when you used to run to catch my kite snatched
by the wind and brought it back to me.
I understand that all the children in our village, dressed in the same insufferable breastplate of longing for parents, make a big family together, the family of those who are left behind, but there is somebody up there who does not allow us to come crashing down,
and each of us has their star in heavens.
I know that people never leave of their own accord to go away from their hearths and that sometimes a separation is the price paid for survival; while the bitter taste of loneliness is mingled with the sweet taste of bread and they sometimes stay as parts of the same dough forever.
You were right, mother, I believe your half embraces made me stronger.
You were right, father, my dreams are safe as long as you lay bricks, one on top of the other, far away over there, and mother cares for other people’s old ones.
You know, mother, I started to browse your books for meandering minds and, even if I don’t understand a great deal, I am fascinated by them.
You know, father, I opened the piano’s lid one morning and the keys replied to me with a kind, welcoming sound, and I caressed them for a while just like you did, and I understood their secret, encased in the heat of ivory. So I would take piano lessons so that the mechanism would not get rusty by the time you return.
I finally understood where the road that leads to you passes through: it passes through here,
though the top of my chest.
I have to remember to tell the other children too…”