Photo Essay

Did Romania changed?

Take me!!!

My origin is Romanian, and my feelings about this country are very painful.

I was born under a law were abortion was illegal, a law that had just been passed on by Ceausescu 1967-1968. If a family had less then three children, they could not legally abort the third, so my mother had to keep me despite her attempts of not to bring yet another child in her poor life.

This was the biggest mistake Ceausescu did, this generation born in 1968 had the mental power and determination to fight, and finally the revolution in 1989 freed the nation. In between all those young people I find myself as well, I was only 20 years old a target to bullets, and in front of me an uncertain future.

I remember the revolution like it was yesterday, the fear was annihilated by happiness, a mass of people marching the streets singing, people from around Bucharest walking the whole night to be present to the fight in front of us, holding simple garden tools in their hands, brave people who had enough.

I remember that day I had to wake up at 5am to be able to partially use the washing machine, because the rest of the people living in that block of apartments were sleeping. Hot water was a rarity, plus reaching at 9th floor were I was living at the time was a huge problem. As I said, at 5 a clock I could take advantage of using hot water to wash my cloths, and of-course to rinse them with freezing water by hand, as by 6.30 the water never had power to be pumped and reach at 9th floor once the people living below started to use it. We used to fill up the bath with water to have even for cooking, and sometimes we used the snow in the winter time as well. Another risk was electricity, by 8 a clock we did not have electricity either. Life in Romania was cruel, peace time, but we were suffering like it was war.

Back to the first Revolution day, as I was rinsing the cloths, and my hands were almost numbed and painful, I heard the people outside screaming, helicopters flying above us, tramps full of people, busses over crowded, and voices calling everyone to come out. I left my washing as it was, dressed in a minute, and at my mother confusion I stepped out the house.

The atmosphere was terrific, soldiers were confused, orders to shoot the population have been given, and they did not know what to do. A necessary detail, I was located in Military, Sector 6, maximum 20 minutes from the centre of Bucharest where the people were killed by soldiers as well as the security shooting them, a direct bullet in between their eyes, and run-over with tanks. If I close my eyes now, I can still see the horror, screams and blood everywhere.

Despite not knowing who will be the next target, and also knowing the risks involved, we were all moving towards the centre of the capital, fear was non existent in our hearts, and finally the country was unified by the most desirable dream to make it come true, Freedom!

The security formed by Ceausescu invisible to us, and controlled by him entirely, made this nation powerless for at list 17 years. One security per three civilians, so it was very hard to express yourself freely, always in danger of not knowing who is the traitor in between us and end up at the police station. Police at that time was called Militia, corrupted bodies who had brutalised many civilians, and never protected them at all. Mind you, are still corrupted and not protecting the population even in present days.

In my area civilians started to feed the soldiers finishing all the food supply they had accumulated over sleepless nights, queueing to buy meat, nescafe, oil, and other products like oranges, chocolate, which in those times were difficult to buy from the market, but easily under the counter, paying 10 times more. The black market was the only source to buy what was at the time considered luxury items for Christmas. Now, I mentioned just few items considered luxury, just to give an insight of how we lived, shampoo was almost none existent on the market, an item that it is necessary for everyday usage, was still considered luxury, so most people used detergents, and boiled water mixed with cold to have a proper wash...

The images I have attached to this story shows the area I lived in for 31 years, images I have taken in 2009 after 20 years from the revolution. At 21 years old after the revolution I managed to fulfil one of my dreams, travel and see the world, at 31 I left forever, and at 34 I settled in UK.

Unfortunately I do not have images that will illustrate the state of the area 20 years ago, but you will be able to see how it looks now, and please take my word for it, there are not major changes after 20 years from the revolution. A big shame, a corrupt country will always remain a corrupt country, not matter what people think. The rich are very rich, insulting the everyday hard working population, the poor are indeed very poor, and the middle class almost disappeared!

The blood I have seen over four sleepless nights and days, terrifying eyes, and frozen population fighting for a dream, protected by soldiers as much as they could, I only can say that I was very proud of being Romanian, but now is not the case. I realised that nothing has changed, all that blood was wasted as now we have created yet another illusion and tragedy, we have plenty of food on the counters and markets, but not money to buy. Only few benefits from that lost of young blood and gained freedom, and those are the rich showing off their expensive cars, and villas. With a great audacity, the centre of Bucharest had become their territory during the night, day time can be enjoyed by anyone, but the night time only the rich can, the working men cannot step in, is to expensive!

I come from middle working class, as my mother had worked extremely long hours, years of nights and days, taking work of two shifts together, meaning 16 hours per day, to offer us what was the most important thing at the time, food, food to grow healthy and strong. Now to keep my mother to the same level, me and my sister have to send money all the time to keep her alive, paying for her medicine and food, otherwise her working pension after 34 years of hard work in the same place, will never pay for her existence.

Communism system written sounds perfect, but in practise was terrible. To many holes have been spotted by the ones in power, and indeed all the East European countries have been abused one way or another by Socialism, and Communism system. In reality they have not been abused by the system, thats just a piece of paper, tragically they have been abused by their own people, people of their choice.

Finally, I do not see any hope for the country I born in, if something will ever change will take at list another 40 years, two more generation will have to die in order the new to take its place. Until then I have lost my identity, and I am not proud of what is left anymore.

Thank you for reading,

Roxana B-B

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24 responses

  • Fox Harvard

    Fox Harvard (Deleted) said (18 Oct 2010):

    That's a hell of a wake-up.

  • John Linton

    John Linton gave props (19 Oct 2010):

    Hell YEAH! Rad!

  • Judy and Wayne Wanamaker

    Judy and Wayne Wanamaker gave props (19 Oct 2010):

    Roxana, you have eloquently painted a bleak picture of life in Romania. You are indeed a brave woman to have escaped such an existence. Sad as it is, it is a story that must be told to a world oblivious to such suffering. Your photographs are a wonderful photojournal of the situation there. I voted for this poignant and depressing essay, because it is so real and human.

  • Michael Franco

    Michael Franco gave props (19 Oct 2010):

    Very strong, educational and eye opening. I for one had NO clue of the suffering Romania was under and completely in the dark of its past. Once again I am appalled and disgusted by a Governments hold over its own people. This is an outstanding piece of work.

  • Donald Garrett

    Donald Garrett said (19 Oct 2010):

    OH, so sad and heartbreaking for this to happen in one's homeland! You have shown a great deal of grit and strength to overcome the evil powers. Good for you. A well-written work!

  • Thad Zajdowicz

    Thad Zajdowicz gave props (19 Oct 2010):

    Roxana, Very powerful and moving -- thank you for posting, I know this had to be painful to document.

  • Orlando Emmanuelli

    Orlando Emmanuelli gave props (19 Oct 2010):

    you got my vote luv. this is quite touching.

  • Lazarescu Costin

    Lazarescu Costin gave props (19 Oct 2010):

    Definitely YES ! Voted without hesitating! Romania changed at the surface, we now have the right to get out in the street and scream our dispare, and our government took the right to completely ignore us ! I will leave this corrupt country as soon as I can, as far as I can. From the land of oppression Romania is now the land of dispare, people are turning grey and getting older and older every minute. Your story is sad but true, touching and shocking !

  • Lazarescu Costin

    Lazarescu Costin said (19 Oct 2010):

    After 20 years... I still have to run away from here too ! so...nothing really changed !

  • Benn Bell

    Benn Bell said (20 Oct 2010):

    Roxana, you have painted a very poignant picture of the miserable conditions in Romania. Your essay is well written and very dramatic. You do a good job documenting the plight of the Romanian people and your own person story is compelling. Your photographs are elegant photojournalism. Bravo! Got my vote.

  • Maura Wolfson-Foster

    Maura Wolfson-Foster gave props (20 Oct 2010):

    I am left speechless after ready this powerful essay and viewing your amazing photos. Thank you so much for sharing this Roxana. You have such strength and vision! My vote x 1000.

  • Rajeev Jadhav

    Rajeev Jadhav said (22 Oct 2010):

    Thanks for sharing those painful moments of ur life. This sharing will release ur stress down !! You are not only beautiful person but these painful days gave u a healthy personality .The article is precious!!!! Living for country, Fight for freedom are like a jewels in ur neck !!!!!!! You are fighting for ex defense person is another great work Roxy !!! I am proud of u and feel very lucky to have frd like you !!!!!!!

  • Rajeev Jadhav

    Rajeev Jadhav gave props (22 Oct 2010):

    My vote !

  • Rich Klein

    Rich Klein gave props (25 Oct 2010):

    Roxana - What an eye opener for everyone. Such promise gone. It breaks my soul to think of such a tragedy. Voted!

  • Litz Go

    Litz Go gave props (30 Oct 2010):

    My interesting knowledge of Romania is that it produced great gymnast. I never have any idea of how it was like until I read and seen your photo essay. You wrote this so well and with passion. My vote, Rox. Hope that it will better for the next generation.

  • Christopher Griesé

    Christopher Griesé gave props (4 Nov 2010):

    Wow. The only story I have read on JPGmag that actually held my interest for more than first three lines.

  • Robert Allan

    Robert Allan said (5 Nov 2010):

    Wow! What can I say? This is one of the most bleak and depressing stories that I have ever read, and the photographs illustrate the suffering so well. You are an amazingly strong and compassionate woman. Your deep and heartfelt humanity shines through this essay and it is a testament to both your inner beauty and the resilience of the human spirit. I will return to these images in the following days, study them and comment on them when I have fully under stood them. This work deserves no less. Thank for sharing such a painful and personal story Roxana! xxxooo

  • ajtiM

    ajtiM (Deleted) said (22 Dec 2010):

    excellent work and choice of pictures!

  • Bennie Beretta

    Bennie Beretta said (5 Jan 2011):

    You make this important story come to life. Bravo!

  • Joerg Schlagheck

    Joerg Schlagheck gave props (8 May 2011):

    Thank you for sharing this! My mom was born in East Germany and I got to know a little bit of the socialist reality there when I was a kid. Articles like yours are important because they raise awareness. Without this awareness corruption can spread easily, everywhere. Great work!

  • Shirley Valencia

    Shirley Valencia   said (13 May 2011):

    Roxana, How sad that life is delivered to us in such a sad way. My childhood was sad for me because I was stricken with Polo at 9 years old. Fortunately I had praying parents and GOD saw fit to give me back my ability to walk after a year of being confined to a wheelchair. There are so many sad stories of war, poverty, death and starvation. What is horrid is we can only change a portion of these things. So many fall through the cracks. We have a lot to be thankful for we live in a free country and are doing some of the things that make us happy. This is a blessing. You are strong and can survive a lot, because of your childhood.... love , your friend

  • Rochelle Berman

    Rochelle Berman said (15 May 2011):

    Your story inspired me to relate how sad I was to find out the history of Romania many years ago and I adopted a son who is now going to be 13. Someday I hope to take him to visit his country of birth but my impressions of Bucharest the two times I was there were so sad I am waiting for the right time to give him pride of his country.

  • Cristina Gallegos

    Cristina Gallegos gave props (19 Jul 2011):

    great essey!

  • Pere Ferrer

    Pere Ferrer (Deleted) gave props (23 Jul 2011):

    Another shocking story, well developed and with great photos

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