”THE BELGIAN EXPERIENCE” OF ROMANIAN EMIGRANTS
Abstract: A straight answer to the question why Romanians did and do leave their country, would seem inappropriate/hazardous. Without any doubt, even from its very beginning, the phenomenon of emigration had economic determinations, which are to be found in present time. It is difficult, however, to integrate such a complex process within a unique pattern.
Key words: immigrants, family, poverty, exprience
Generally, the reason for migration lies in the local constraints (the lack of jobs) and the economic situation of the family (poverty). The main reason for leaving for work is earning money, this way the migration is based on request and recruiting labour. Coming from less developed countries, the emigrants, in most cases, take jobs which are normally refused by the citizens of the respective country, jobs which do not correspond to their social. Thus, in some countries there are jobs which are constantly done exclusively by the emigrants (for example the migration of romanian women in Spain to harvest strawberries, the migration of romanian nurses in Germany, in Spain for construction work and in Belgium romanians are second place as labour force in constructions after the polish and women are wanted for nettoyage and baby-sitting).
As we all know,
Along with the grown ups, the work emigration is done also by young people who live with their parents and don’t have enough money tonbuy houses and raise a family. In the beginning they spend their money having fun, but, in time, they begin to earn money to build them a decent future.
The main reasons for emigration are: poverty, unemployment,
the unbearably small salaries and the inability of the government to secure
social protection to its citizens. These causes make those able to work leave
the country and ask for asylum in well-developed countries,
Generally there are two types of departures: people who have someone known at the destination (another Romanian fellow who left before - network departures) and departures without that kind of relation (independent departures).
Most of those working abroad left through a national social network, but who exceed the bounds and include people not only from the emigrant’s community of affiliation, but also from the destination. Often, these people who became part of the destination network bear the nationality of that country where the emigrant settled and help him obtain the necessary documents for a legal sojourn or settlement, intermediate his employment, offer recommendations etc. This person is generally named „my belgian” or „my german” or „my french” or any other nationality.
Generally the emigration networks are deeply rooted in the communities of origin. Depend in on the criterion on whose base the migration networks were built Ruxandra Ciobanu mentions five types:
1. Kinship and relation networks
2. Ethnic networks, usually throught local networks (ethnic networks in the case of the gypsies), which, in time, take the form of kinship based networks (meaning that after a period of time many member of the family leave).
networks – departures by a network to a known person who already lives in
4. Community networks – depending on the country of destination there may appears specialized networks for every country or diffuse networks (common social networks used for any destination, the reforest here is no single network of departure in every country.). However, we may say that there are many networks, more or less structured, which individuals use as strategies of departure and at destination. For belgium, and not only the first who leaves represents, in fact, the key-element of the networks because it brings another persons from that country, which he houses for a while and finds them jobs.
at destination these show the cases
of the emigrants who, by working in
All these networks have lead to a progressive increase of the number of emigrants by reducing the risks and costs of migration.
At destination, the Romanians in Bruxelles find enough obstacles. The ones who leave on a contract have their own experience. These people, especially at their work places, find enough hostility, being considered competitors by their collogues. Thus, in most cases, the natives, taking advantage of the lack of experience in a cosmopolitan environment try to find ways to make them quit or they are often demoted. In time, things will get normal, but these experiences, unwillingly, affect the emigrant’s mind.
However, most of Romanian emigrants accept jobs rejected by natives. At the same time, a main part of the illegal emigrants have neither education nor qualification, increasing the number of poor people and the children of illegal emigrants don’t have official access to medical services or education. Many of those who leave for work have crossed the border for the first time. It is a kind of a clash of civilizations. The lack of linguistic ability and the difficulties of professional recognition represent considerable barriers. Those who don’t have legal documents work on the black market with small salaries without insurance and in difficult conditions. Having reached the land of promise they seem to rebuild their biography, they change. Most of the emigrants are ashamed of their origin, of their native country, of their fellow countrymen, the deepest effects, and which will then have reverberations are the cultural ones. Afterwards some of them bring their children, their relatives, their friends, they found small communities.
Having come to
The Belgian experience means a period of adjustment to all that is representative of that country. Given the conditions of this system, with unemployment and a big competition, nobody will teach you what he knows, for fear you might take his job.
For example, in an asylum for old people, it is not
difficult for a nurse coming from
With the passage of time, you learn all these, you acquire the so-called belgian experience. Unfortunately, it takes time, during which you go through painful experience.
The enthusiasm of the beginning diminishes when you
want to do something but you can’t or don’t know how. Depression follows,
remorse, the thought of returning home, questions you have never asked
yourself. In time the suffering ends, the character purifies itself and life
goes on. People get used to this way of leaving. There are few those who don’t
adjust and return to
Many of them miss the spiritual nourishment, the
places people and habits. The first generation has always that emptiness in
their souls. Their children, however, don’t feel their parents ‘restlessness,
no longer live between two worlds. For them the other world exists through
stories. They are moved only when hearing the name
The so-called belgian experience is acquired in time and patiently but often leaves marks in the emigrant’s mind, which proves that the changes he experiences and the critical situations he faces, turn him into a mature person, change his life views and from the western mirage he once dreamt of remains only with the coldness of the world he has been adopted by.
Ciobanu, Ruxandra O. , The international migration and the change of community in Romanian Sociology, Tome II, NR 2, Polirom Publishing House, Bucharest, 2004.
Sandu, Dumitru, The
culture and experience of migration in
romanian villages, in Romanian Sociology, Tome II, NR. 3, Polirom
Ruxandra O. Ciobanu ,quoted work, p.134.
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