TARGU JIU, GORJ
Located in the south-west of Romania, Targu Jiu is the capital of Gorj county, and has been since the seventeenth century . The city’s name comes from the river Jiu that crosses from one end to the other and over time to the west side formed three terraces, which form the territory of today's town.
The city is first mentioned in a declaration issued by Mihai Bravu, Prince of Wallachia, in 1597.
Targu Jiu was the site of numerous battles throughout history. Among the most important are:
• in 1631, the battle between the forces of Matei Basarab and Leon Tomsa;
• in 1821, the national liberation and social revolution, led by Tudor Vladimirescu;
• in the revolution of 1848, led by Gheorghe Magheru and Christian Tell.
Without doubt the most celebrated name originating from Gorj is that of Constantin Brancusi, the sculptor who changed the vision and direction of contemporary art.
Today, many of his works are to be found in Targu Jiu including the Endless Column, The Table of Silence or Gate of the Kiss, all of which are included among Brancusi’s most famous works and continue to contribute substantially to the city's economy, with each visited by many tourists every year.
Targu Jiu’s city population is just over 82,500. Approximately 7,000 people are Roma from different guilds, including brickmaking, silversmiths, musicians, wood carvers and others, divided into several neighborhoods.
The best represented by number are the neighborhoods of Obreja, Meteor, and Rudăriţa. Here, as in most areas of Romania, many Roma lack an identity, suffering from a low level of schooling, a lack of a stable job and lack of ID papers.
Targu Jiu is well represented in educational centres where no less than 30 schools, high schools, colleges and universities help residents pursue educational studies.
Yet the dropout rate of Roma is high, with no more than 60% of school-age Roma children attending school. Very few finish college; most leave after the eighth grade. In the Roma neighborhoods there are many cases of illiteracy and truancy.
Experts say that the reasons such situations arise are mainly due to financial problems existing in Roma families.
Industry in Targu Jiu is comparatively well entrenched, with many multinational companies having established outlets in the area. But there are too few jobs compared with the demand. Moreover, research shows that integration by Roma into the labor market is low, with many unemployed or living beneath the poverty line.
There are many reasons: the financial crisis, lack of education, lack of professional skills are among them.
Once the members of the Roma community in Targu Jiu were recognized for traditional crafts such as coppersmith works, sheet metalworking, aluminum and brass works which resulted in items such as pans, pots, stills or buckets.
Guild processors made wooden spoons, chairs, tables and other household items. Brickyards in the area were known for making handmade brick earth (adobe). However, increasingly smaller gains from the sale of handmade objects, an influx of precast goods at very low prices and very few marketing opportunities for products has caused many Roma to quit their jobs.
Many, hoping for a better life, choose to emigrate.