Behind the absence

 

Awarded project “Call for Entry 2014”

 

Most young people of my generation grew up without one or both parents. It’s sad you have to accept absence as a necessary evil, since you were a child”.

Iona, 19, both parents live and work in Italy.

The Republic of Moldova is a small country in Eastern Europe, surrounded by Romania and Ukraine, where more than 100.000 children and adolescents grow up without their parents. They are social orphans, whose mothers and fathers emigrated looking for a job.

Based on a recent study by IOM (International Organization for Migrations), migration flow includes a fourth of the working age population: while most of the male population from Moldova migrates to Russia and Ukraine, most of the female population chose Western Europe, and Italy in particular.

Fathers and mothers abandon their homeland, professions and relatives, hoping they will be able to guarantee their families a better future.

The lurking consequence of this massive migration is that thousands of children, too young to be left growing alone, are fostered by grandparents, who are often too old to be parents again, or they grow up in decaying orphanages built during the last century to host the orphans of WWII.

This migration flow is the result of two structural crisis. On one side, the crisis of this country of the former Soviet Union, with a per capita income of € 150,00 a month, where it is impossible for the population to make a decent living; and on the other hand, the crisis of European countries, like Italy and Spain, where with the average age of the population constantly rising, the economic system imposing at an increasingly advanced age, and the lacking of social services, the need for foreigner workers who can look after their children and elderly full-time.

If the money that emigrants send back home, generating a wealth of 1 billion dollars every year, is the drawing power of the economy of Moldova, the other side of the coin is the deep cut in its social fabric.

My photographic project “Behind the Absence” is intended to help rising a new awareness of the consequences of migration in a country where post-communist institutions make low-cost manpower their main “export product” in order to maintain an unsteady economic balance.

Understanding the extent of the problem of migration and the long-term negative impact it may have on the country development, is essential to structure new social policies in order to provide the future generations with the chance to decide whether they want to stay or they prefer to go, without giving up their own personal and economic development.