Macedonians Prepare to March Against Poverty in Skopje

Macedonia is one of Europe's poorest countries, with an estimated 30 percent of the population living in poverty and a similar percentage of its people are out of work. The country even ranked as the most miserable in the world on The Economist's 2012 Misery Index, which ranks countries by unemployment rate plus inflation rate.

Two Macedonian non-governmental organizations, Platform Against Poverty and 8th of September, are trying to do something about it. They are organizing a March Against Poverty in the capital city Skopje for March 1, 2014 at 11:55 under the symbolic title “5 minutes to 12.”

The march is being organized and promoted through a Facebook event page and a blog by the same name, as well as under hashtags #5до12 and #5do12 on Twitter. It will end in an open air concert dubbed the Concert for Dignity. 

"5 to 12" flyer explains the march route: Parliament, Government and Jadran Square.

“5 minutes to 12″ flyer explains the march route: Parliament, Government and Jadran Square.

The organizers of the march explain [mk] their reasons on the official website:

Одговорот е многу едноставен, затоа што граѓаните имаат потреба од тоа. Овој настан ги повикува да се приклучат и да ја подржат иницијативата сите оние кои живеат во сиромаштија, но и оние кои сакаат да застанат на страната на народот и да зборуваат во името на оние кои немаат глас

Нé радува и тоа што граѓаните почнуваат да прашуваат „зашто треба да излезат“, а не инструирано да се движат по маршови за оваа или онаа тема.

Ние преку овој марш сакаме да покажеме дека граѓаните живеат се полошо и полошо, дека ниту една влада досега не придонела за унапредување на нивниот квалитет на живот. Дека статистиките кои ни ги презентираат за економски раст и раст на социјалните трансфери не се реални, граѓаните живеат во беда и сиромаштија. Воедно, сметаме дека сите претходни биле успешни и добри настани затоа што секое излегување на народот на улица значи и кревање на гласот за подобар живот.

The answer is simple: because the citizens need it. This event calls upon all who live in poverty, but also those who want to stand on the side of the people and speak in the name of the voiceless.

We are glad that citizens have started asking “why should we go out,” and are not just joining marches by directive.

Throughout the month of March, we want to show that citizens live worse [than before], that no government so far has contributed to the improvement of their quality of life. That the stats presented to us about economic development and increase of social transfers are not real, that citizens live in misery and poverty. We also consider all previous events successful and good because every time the people go out in the streets they raise their voice for a better life.

Prior to the march, the organizers have been conducting research [mk] with focus groups and organizing public debates to get feedback and information from the people. They strive to get public support so they can initiate changes to the Law on Social Protection and debate in the Parliament for ensuring a decent minimal income for all.

To aid in the promotion and give a voice to the voiceless, several students from the Skopje Faculty of Dramatic Arts made videos in which they read portions of statements from the survey.

The monologue in the above video [mk] is transcribed and translated below:

Јас сум самохрана мајка и имам две деца. Не сум вработена и зимам социјална помош три илјади денара. Кај нас е срамота да кажеш дека си сиромашен – сите ќе ти се смејат. Едноставно, нема да те прифанат. Тоа и за децата е лошо. У која установа да отидеш, никој нема да ти помогне. Толку години се влечам по социјално, по секакви установи… Никој не ти помага. Само ти викат чекај, чекај… и цел живот ќе помине у чекање. А децата па нема шо да јадат. Тие деца треба да јадат нешто. Ќе тргнат еден ден у школо. Треба да ги облечеш нешто. Само полошо си праеш за себе ако кажеш дека си сиромашен. Ја шо да праам со тие две деца и со тие три илјади денара. Со шо да ги ранам? Шо да ги облечам?

I am a single mother of two. Unemployed, I take social benefits of 3,000 denars [about 67 US dollars]. In our place it is shameful to say you are poor – everybody will laugh at you. Simply, they won't accept you. This is bad for the kids too. No matter which institution you go to, nobody will help you. I spent years dragging in the social welfare, in all kinds of institutions… Nobody helps. They just say wait, wait… and all your life passes waiting. While the kids have nothing to eat. Those kids need some food. They will also need to go to school. You'll need to clothe them in something. You only make the matters worse if you say you are poor. What should I do with those two kids and those 3,000 denars. What should I feed them? What clothes can I buy?


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