In June 2011, for the first time since the revolution and before, I went back to Roumania, a beautiful, underestimated, yet poor country that, according to many today, made nothing out of its revolution – Roumanians prefer to speak about “the events of december (1989)” – and in fact, would need another one to get life really going. I heard people complain that, under Ceauscescu, at least every citizen had a job. During my travels, I noticed a widespread criticism on the allegedly corrupt present strong man, former army officer Traian Băsescu.
Roumania, although part of the European Union, hardly ever hits the world news. It is a forgotten country. In Belgium the word ‘Roumanian’ is associated with ‘criminality’, due to Roumanians, among many other nationalities, involved in thefts and robberies, particularly in Brussels. Yet, I have always known the Roumanians as a very hospitable, warm, and open-minded people with a rich identity. So, I went back to Bucharest, to Buzău, Sibiu, Moreni, Râmnicu Sărat, Trgovište, as a photographer, without any hope of finding anyone who would ever publish my photos.
As I was then working for the Flemish Ministry for Public Health, and got to know a lot about that subject, my focus was on health care: in general and psychiatric hospitals, at people’s home places, in institutions for the mentally handicapped, in old people’s homes, … Progress has been made, for sure.
It struck me, however, how the Roumanian Yellow Cross, organizing home care even at remote locations on the countryside, has to fight to survive. I asked a nurse I joined on here trip to patients living isolated on the countryside, what these people’s fate would be without her and other Yellow Cross nurses. She answered: “Adieu”, and with a slow move of her hand, made it exactly clear what she meant.
The demographic evolution is not any different in Roumania than it is in any Western-European country. Its population ages quickly. The elderly are many. Everywhere in Europe, governments realize that residential care cannot be the solution to this demographic evolution, and that a transfer to well-organized home care will be the only way to sustain a human society. Roumania unfortunately, is missing this boat.
See also: Crucea Alb-Galbena