A couple of months ago, I translated a comment on Alex Culiuc's blog which I found to be touching and revealing about the lives of Moldovan labor migrants. Since then, I've been meaning to translate a follow-up comment by the same commenter (here's the original), Snejana, and I've finally gotten around to it:
…when I write about Moldova I get very emotional, because I don't understand why life is so difficult. On every corner in Italy there are Moldovans looking for work which they hope will make them some money and allow them to pay off their debts and send some money home to their children. Just today I was standing by a bank, and a strange woman walked up and greeted me. She asked me just one thing: “Do you know of any job at all, no matter what it pays, I'm sick of walking around outside and searching from morning until night,” and she got teary-eyed, then she got embarrassed and left.
It's difficult when there's nothing I can do to help, it's difficult when I hear hurtful words about us, but those at home should know that there are lots of us here who work very hard and aren't ashamed to say we're from Moldova, and to tell people about our holy places; we cook our national dishes, and we pray all the time for our motherland.
I know lots of people who say that they are sick of being someone's slave and have gone home to their villages, because it is psychologically very difficult to always be a foreigner.
My friend is an Italian, and he always wants to learn something about my country, I'm happy that at least Europe is interested in us because of our girls. Because before, 10 years ago, no one even knew what side of the world we were from, but now, like they say, “whether they talk good or bad about you, at least they talk about you.” […she describes differences between Moldovans and Italians…]
I'm still quite young, and I have time to choose my way in life, but now I want to tell the people who want to come here that the land where you were born will always be in your soul. Best to you all, Ciao vi voglio sempre bene.
Another comment from Snejana, in which she summarizes an Italian's opinion and posts it in full (in Italian, which I can't translate and have omitted here):
Here are a few words from Italians who have visited Moldova. I don't know if you'll understand Italian, but I'll translate the most important part, which is that those who have been there a few times say that the situation is getting better; I want to believe this, too.
So do I, although I'm not sure it's true.
Old and New on Str. Cosmonautilor – Chisinau, Moldova, August 2006 - photo by Lyndon Allin
Here is the missing part written in Italian (I apologize for the “rough” translation, the best I could do…)
Moldova: this is my second trip in this small country formerly belonging to the Soviet Empire. After landing at Chisinau Airport, I will become aware, day after day, that also in this little country with big problems things are slowly changing- getting better even if among several difficulties.
In Chisinau suburbs, two huge Soviet-style buildings, which went unnoticed in my previous trip, look like a sort of gate of the city.
I lodge in a flat in Stefan Cel Mare blvd. Externally the building has the above-mentioned Soviet look, with a jail-like entrance door, dilapidated stairs and an elevator that seems a bet (will it succeed in reaching the seventh floor?).
A fat “babushka” is waiting for me. After the greetings, she hands me the keys. The flat is really nice, spacious and clean, contrasting with the austerity of the deteriorated façade. The flat provides all the possible comforts.
Lilia takes me downtown to visit, better to visit again, the centre of the city, where at each corner I see internet points, cafés and restaurants which were not there at the time of my first trip. It is my first time in “Sun city” mall as well, which reaches the same high standards of the best European malls. Life in Moldova is slowly enhancing.
Chisinau, on the banks of Byk river, is a city full of green, with parks and lakes. During World War II, air strikes destroyed almost two thirds of the old city buildings: Chisinau today is a city under reconstruction. Many ancient and impressive buildings are still present, together with cathedrals with bulb-shaped domes, mixed with ugly square gulag-grey buildings dating back to Stalin era and to the fascinating cafés which are opening everywhere. On the contrary, in the rural areas which surround the city people poor lifestyle is evident.
Apart from famous writers, Alexander Pushkin (who was exiled in Chisinau) and Mihai Eminescu, all other sculptures in town refer to war events. A statue of Stefan Cel Mare, the national hero, a sort of Moldovian Garibaldi, can be seen in Stefan Cel Mare park on the west side of the homonymous avenue.
There are many artistic and historical museums spread around the country, but the National Museum of History offers a surprising set: a life-size reconstruction of the Soviet invasion of Chisinau in 1945.
Chisinau is the perfect town for those who easily get lost: straights streets are arranged in a regular grid with the main street, Stefan Cell Mare Blvd, crossing the city from South-East to North-West. On the Northern side is located the main square, with the most important buildings and cathedrals and the Moldova Arch of Triumph. Some of the streets show Moldovan names, some other have still the Russian names and few show both new and old names.
Chisinau, the capital, is a lively city full of young energy and fun, with shops, a big park right in the centre, a national museum, restaurants, bars and handicraft markets selling souvenirs, in particular “matrioska” dolls in all shapes and colors.
Kurtz, thanks! It is nice to see such optimism. We were having dinner this spring with a Moldovan friend in DC, and she had some mustard or mayonnaise jar from Moldova that I think she had used to bring jam or preserves from home. What I noticed was that – instead of the primitive glass cylinders I had seen for years – this product of Moldova had been packaged in a modern-looking clear plastic squeezable (I think) container. When I noticed, I made a remark expressing pride and joy about such progress (sincerely), but, the dinner company being one mostly of Moldovans, we then all just laughed. Some enterprises may be successfully modernizing, but the country as a whole is not exactly a model of good governance, unfortunately.
well… it is sad… and I, myself travel a lot and I met a lot of Moldovans abroad. I also have a lot of friends who left after we graduated the university. A lot of them say that I am stupid because, with my language skills I could work in construction (or even better:))) in Italy, instead of doing intelectual, low paid work in Moldova…
Unfortunately, those who complain in Italy, return to Moldova with cars bought on lent money, because this is the only way to “get on top”. You here only successful stories here, at home… so that everbody wants to leave as soon as possible to make the same living, to get the same “euphoria”. “NO SOLIDARITY… NO FRATERNITY… WE ARE FRIENDS IN MOLDOVA, HERE WE ARE ON OUR OWN”, this is the way it works out there.
I don’t want to be appreciated for the trafficked girls, who after all, provide high quality services…
Unlike others, I would prefer to stay incognito rather than being target for mockers…
I am a researcher looking for information about Moldovian associations in northern Italy. I would appreciate if anyone could help me out with suggestions.