Bradut Lesca, a Role Model for the Roma Community

 

 
The “Alpine Goats for Two Poor Communities” project is developing in Nemsa and the Drag village, located in central Romania. Its objective is to improve the lives of poor farmers in two communities by delivering pure bred French Alpine goats.  The two villages, mainly inhabited by Roma people, have become some of the leading communities among Heifer Romania project holders.

 

Since the beginning of the program, goat breeding became a popular occupation in the village because it is providing food, income and hope to people who never owned anything before. The project holders are the farmers’ associations of Fraternitatea Interethnic Association, in Nemsa, and the Goat Breeders Association, in Salaj county Drag. 

 

The Roma minority endures harsh living conditions and extreme poverty. Migration to Western Europe is common for these people. This leads to trouble because they are often discriminated against; ethnic discrimination is encountered frequently. They are distrusted, and because of this, their integration and economic development is a difficult process. The major challenges of the Roma minority include overcoming poverty, improving access to education and developing marketable skills. The Nemsa community mirrors the general situation of the Roma people.
 

Nemsa is a poor village that has major shortcomings in infrastructure, such as buildings, roads, communications and transportation; they are all in need of improvement.

  

Besides infrastructure, local poverty is one of the villagers’ main concerns. In the early 1900s the Roma colonized Nemsa, an almost deserted village previously inhabited by Germans.  They are settled now and own small properties and practice agriculture, which made them eligible for a Heifer project. The hilly village pasture in Nemsa is ideal for goats, who can easily climb the slopes.  About half of the farmers have experience in goat breeding. The goats generate food not only for daily consumption, but also for income through trading milk, dairy products, meat and livestock.

 

By raising pure breed goats, the poor communities in Nemsa and the Drag villages initiate and develop an income generating activity, creating an alternative to unemployment and providing hope for a self-sustainable future.  Farmers are trained and work together in livestock breeding, nutrition and farm product marketing.
 
 

One of the community role models is the Lesca family. Bradut Lesca, 42, is a hardworking and dedicated man, always prepared to help his family and neighbors. He is married to Geta, 39, and they have three daughters Mirela, 11, Estera, 8, and Miriam, 2.  
 
 

The family lives in a small, shabby, three room house. It is the house in which Bradut’s parents used to live. His mother also lives with them in the house.  Bradut built the third room to have more space for his family. Their only income is the children’s allowance and what Bradut earns when working occasional jobs. In the past, he used to work as a welder, but at the moment there are no job opportunities available.
 
 

Mirela and Estera both go to school and enjoy helping their mother with cooking and cleaning. They are reliable helpers and would like to continue their studies and go to a university. Mirela wants to become a lawyer and Estera enjoys chemistry. The girls often baby-sit little Miriam, while their parents are busy working.

 

At the end of November 2007, Bradut Lesca became a Heifer beneficiary. He received six Alpine French goats. A regular day in the life of the Lesca family is now planned around the animals. Bradut wants to increase the number of animals and gain extra income from selling the kid goats; their demand on the market is rather high.

  

He attended livestock management trainings and improved his knowledge on breeding goats, regarding fodder and reproduction. The entire Lesca family agrees that Heifer brought only positive changes to their village and community. They accepted and always try to follow the Heifer cornerstones in everyday life. They have good expectations about the outcomes of this project. Also, they hope that together they can become a strong and independent community that involves all members in benefit generating activities.
 

Bradut declared, they, as a Roma community, will prove to be serious and responsible if the Heifer project fulfills its objectives. The local breed will be improved genetically and the productivity rate will increase, providing more milk, dairy products and offspring to sell.  All these are ways of increasing income and improving nutrition, and, in the long run, will help the beneficiaries improve their lives.
 
 

 

Written by

Laura Manciu, Communication and PR Coordinator; and

Anna Heler, Communication and PR,
Heifer Romania

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