This is the type of story that gives you an idea of what’s really going on out there, the type of story you won’t see in the main media outlets in the USA.
It’s a story about how almost everybody from a small Bulgarian village have moved to Germany to work in that country’s services sector. I find this one particularly interesting. I hope you find it so too.
Kurt drives past an abandoned train station and run-down stockyards. The house where he was born, 32 years ago, stands right at the beginning of the village of Slivo Pole. It’s abandoned now, and the bar next door, which he used to frequent, has gone out of business. He passes the grocery store where villagers buy their food on credit. The only reason the barbershop is still in business is that there is a Western Union counter in the storage room. “Hardly anything would work here anymore without the money from Wilhelmsburg,” Kurt says as he drives past the buildings in his blue BMW. They would all starve to death.”
He is referring to the few residents who have remained behind. The parents of those who left, those sons and daughters who now live in German cities like Berlin, Erfurt and Hamburg. Kurt is one of the ones who left Slivo Pole.
Meco Gül, a friend of Kurt’s who still spends most of his time in Bulgaria, is sitting in the passenger seat. Kurt needs Gül for his operation, because Gül owns a minibus with which he drives the 4,000 kilometers (2,500 miles) from Bulgaria to Germany and back once a week. Gül brings Kurt new workers.
The two men have known each other since childhood. They were born into communism, grew up on the same street, and became impoverished when Bulgaria transformed into a democracy. They were both cattle traders in Bulgaria and later picked strawberries in Greece together, where they shared a plastic tarp at night. “We were poor day laborers,” says Kurt. But that was then. Today the two men are known in Slivo Pole as “the cleanup guys.” Their role today is to empty out villages.
Read the complete article here.