BALESTI, GORJ

Places

Balesti lies west of Targu Jiu in southwest Romania and is one of the most significant villages in the county of Gorj, since it is the administrative seat that groups villages Ceauru, Cornesti, Gavanesti, Rasova, Stolojan, Talpasesti, Tamasesti and Voinigesti, and Balesti.

 

Residents of Balesti are active in agriculture (farming, fruit growing, viticulture) and animal husbandry (livestock). The main source of income comes from exploiting local gravel pits.

 

The area is renowned for the Badej oak, a tree that is at least 200 years. Many tourists visit.

 

People

The population of the town is 7,400 inhabitants of which 750 are estimated to be Roma.

Roma from the villages come from guilds such as potters, musicians and silk.

 

There are very few cases of geographic segregation, with Roma houses placed next to the houses of ordinary Romanians. 

 

Schools

No less than ten schools and ten kindergartens serve citizens of Balesti.

 

Between 100-150 Roma children, both preschoolers and children of school-attending age attend four different schools. More children would be in school if income levels were higher. Some Roma families have no source of income.

 

As is the case in many Roma communities, the school drop out rate is quite high.

Workplaces

Once the most widespread source of employment in the area was agriculture (vegetables or fruit) and animal husbandry (livestock). To a lesser extent some residents worked in coal mining. 

 

Traditionally Roma practiced their crafts, making wooden objects (spoons, chairs, tables, spindles) and then sold them, or were musicians who performed at various events (weddings, christenings, and birthdays).

 

Due to an absence of any retail outlet for the marketing of products most Roma have given up in search of other revenue-generating practices. Some of them work in agriculture during the day, others collect wood, fruit or mushrooms that they sell, while others do not make a living any more.