Dilga, Romania is a settlement of 2,500 people with dirt roads, no running water and an unemployment rate of 70%. Most of the working-age men and women have worked abroad, mostly in Italy or Great Britain, as many say they are unable to find adequate work in Romania. During the communist years, most worked in nearby state-run factories and agricultural cooperatives, though the majority of these went bankrupt after 1989 and the local Roma lost their jobs. Since then, they have struggled to make ends meet and find a better future for their children, though projects initiated by the European Union and NGOs are helping some to launch small-scale enterprises and improve their children's education.
In this photograph, schoolchildren, most of them ethnic Roma, have a hot lunch before afternoon activities that will include assisted homework in an after-school program sponsored by the European Commission in Dilga. The program, called the Roma Education Fund, is aimed at bridging the educational gap between Roma and non-Roma across Europe.
All photographs taken in Dilga, Romania, March 11, 2013