In Roma villages, between poverty and hope of integration

Children who don’t go to school, families living on €3 (CHF3) a day in dilapidated houses without running water or electricity – this is daily life for thousands of Roma in Romania. Switzerland is making them a priority in its foreign aid for Eastern Europe. In a little schoolhouse at Gradinari, 200 km west of Bucharest, some of these least privileged children can go to school for the afternoon, too, an unusual occurrence in Romania’s rural villages. They spend several hours within school walls that were once brightly painted but now show their age. The children play, receive extra tutoring and are given advice meant to instill more self-confidence. They also get a hot meal, sometimes their only one of the day. But amid the poverty that is relatively dire for an European Union member-country, the children often must look after younger siblings or work in the fields. So the time spent in school is discouraged, the lessons devalued. In 2013, for example, 12.2% of the …

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