BABENI, VALCEA

Schools

Babeni has 11 educational institutions, including kindergartens, primary and secondary schools.

Yet most are very old; several have not seen much renovation since they were built in the 1920s and 1930s, and need extensive work to both the interior and exterior.

These schools educate children in the Roma minority as well as non-Roma. However, many children have dropped out of school due to the poverty of many of the families in Babeni.

Workplaces

Before becoming a city Babeni people were renowned for their animal husbandry, agriculture and cottage industries (weaving, metalworking and woodworking).

For a variety of reasons very few people still work in these areas. First, the national industrialization process has made its mark in this area, with very few villagers working in the fields as they did prior to 2002.

The appearance on the market of cheap, mass-produced products has meant that the tools and wares traditionally made by Babeni craftsmen are no longer demanded.

A significant number of Babeni residents have emigrated - in a decade its population has declined by about 1,000 people.

The Roma people of Babeni are no different.

Wood products made by Roma from babeni were once very popular, yet while there are a small number of Roma still involved in this ancestral craft, many have left it after the market became inundated with cheaper, factory-made products.

People

According to the local council of Babeni, about 8,500 people live in approximately 3,175 households, down from early 2000, when they numbered approximately 9,500 people.

In 91% of the inhabitants are Romanians and just over 4% are Roma. The Roma minority are employed mostly in woodmaking and are members of the woodmakers’ guild.

Places

Babeni is located in Valcea on the right side of the Olt river. The nearest major cities are Ramnicu Valcea, approximately 20 km away, and Dragasani, approximately 30 km away.

Initially the town had the status of a commune, but since 2002 has become a city. Currently the city adminsitrates several villages: Paduretu, Romani, Capu Dealului, Tatarani, Bonciu and Valea Mare.

Babeni is well represented for tourism, with historical monuments such as the churches dedicated to Saint Demetrius and to Saint Paraschievi and for the home of the poet Dragos Vranceanu, and for the culture museum, and also for the traditions and customs which are kept alive today by townspeople and villagers.