Wednesday, 5 August 2009
Bodvalenke August 2009
Today, at the beginning of August 2009 and only two months into the Fresco Project (see previous post), Bodvalenke is very depressed. There is no work and hasn’t been for many years. The original Hungarian occupants have left and now there is a population of only 205, 90% are Roma, 80 of which are children. They are the poorest.
Eszter Pasztor, the frsco project originator, estimates that 40 of these children are actually starving. The reasons for this are simple. The family allowances and social security benefits are being drained at source by a very unscrupulous Roma money lender who exploits her own people with a particularly vile brand of food usuary.
This is how it works. Your children are hungry. You have no money. You go to the money lender because you have no choice. She sells you a loaf of bread at twice the shop price (the shop doesn’t give credit)! She then charges you 100% interest per month on the already inflated cost of the loaf (banks charge 15% per year!) so you can see how easy it is to build up massive amounts of debt quickly.
On top of that you are grateful to her for helping you out of a crisis. Not only is she respected but she is the clan leader! You don’t even realise how dependent on her you are until the loans are called in and the violence begins.
The 'eco' toilet
Bori's brothers meet the combine
Bori, age 14, our guide through the village