Putting a Face on Poverty

[First, draft profile by the students I am advising at St. Stephen’s School. Great work from five budding journalists. Thanks to Kelly Worcester for kicking me in the butt a bit to make this happen.]

Putting a Face on Poverty

A blog dedicated to interviews with the impoverished men and women that we have passed in the street everyday until now.

 On Saturday the 28th March we met with Vasco, a Bulgarian man who moved to Italy to earn money for his children and grandchildren, all of whom still live in his home town. Despite the fact that Vasco speaks mainly Bulgarian, and only a little Italian, we still managed to learn about his journey from Bulgaria to Italy, where he left behind his family, his status and any recognition of his previous education and qualifications, all of which he exchanged for the hope of an improved life in a country he didn’t know.

  While he drank his coffee, Vasco spoke about his reason for leaving, namely the high rates of unemployment matched by the lack of hope. Vasco had previously worked in Bulgaria, holding down jobs for around 50 years, but after the inauguration of president Rosen Plevneliev, such opportunities started to disappear, and Vasco became unemployed with no hope of finding another chance to work. Four years ago he made the decision to leave, moving to the centre of Italy, where he continues to inhabit a small tent in Trigoria.

Living in Rome, however was not the dream that Vasco thought it could be.The country, whilst home to many immigrants, is still largely unreceptive, especially to Eastern Europeans, meaning that getting a job has been near impossible. Vasco has had to turn to begging, which is still his main source of income, supplemented by the 20€ he receives a week from the local Tabacchi, as pay for selling newspapers.

Currently Vasco is trying to raise enough money to go home and visit his family, and whilst in the past week he has raised over 80€, ticket prices raise all the time, meaning that even if he does manage to pay for a ticket there, returning to Italy may be too expensive.

Despite the fact this plight seems desperate, Vasco is a genuinely friendly man who has become a part of the natural landscape of the Aventina, an ancient  road running through the historic center of Rome, with people of the district coming to know both him and his wide smile.