Erdžan – Kid From The Street

Erdžan – Kid From The Street
by Igor Smilevski

Small classroom of the kindergarten “Snežana” in Šuto Orizari, Skopje. The place which is home of the Educational day care center for street children. Nineteen years old Erdžan, already a young man with chalk in his hand is standing in front of the blackboard. Little shy and obviously excited because of his unperfected writing, he begins to write his name. He makes mistakes with few letters and his coordinator corrects him. After every mistake Erdžan smiles a little but the look in his eyes show that he is determined to do this. Finally after almost a minute, on the blackboard there are ten letters: Ерџан Садик. Expression on his face tells us that he has done a very important job.
For many Roma children from the municipality Šutka in Skopje street life is a bitter reality. Without vital care of their parents, they are forced to make big decisions from an early age. Erdžan is one of the few examples who is determined to confront this reality and to point his life in a different direction.

Past on the streets

“I first came to the center in 2006. Here for the first time I started thinking about education as an option. Before that I just wandered and begged on the streets. At the age of 13 I started going to the elementary school where I managed to finish 4th grade. Then my parents withdrew me from the school because of the frequent fights with my Albanian classmates”, with gloomy look on his face Erdžan recalls about his first unsuccessful attempt to go to school .

His family has nine members and lives in very difficult conditions.

“Before I became an adult (18 years) my parents received welfare, but then it was discontinued because I was full of age and we did not report that on time“. After this event it was impossible for the family to survive only with his father’s modest salary as a bricklayer. That’s why Erdžan along with his mother continued to beg and collect things from trash bins.

I must create a better life for my family

In July this year Erdžan realized that this way of life doesn’t lead anywhere and decided to re-apply to the center for street children. This decision was supported by his parents, because they already knew the people at the center back from 2006.

“This was the only way to continue education and to improve my life”, now perhaps for the first time in his life Erdžan has a goal to achieve.

“Employees at the center are re-educating me and guiding me through what I have learned in 4th grade. There are many things I have forgotten. Writing is my greatest problem. When I improve this, I’ll also re-engage in the educational process. This time I’ll go to night school. There I have a chance for two years to complete the four grades that I need to get a Bachelor of Primary Education”, slowly and with pauses Erdžan speaks in clear Macedonian language, although this is not his mother tongue. As a child he learned to speak Romanes first.

He even has his own vision of how his completion of primary education would help his community:

“I hope that when I finish elementary school I can find a better job. My dream is to stay here in the day care center but as a coordinator. I’ll guide the children through my example to show them that the school is a better option than life on the street”, says Erdžan imagining himself as a positive inspiration for the generations to come.

In his opinion, education is a key to success in life. So basically he is the one to blame for an early enrolment of his two sisters to the day care center.

“I must create a better life for my family. Education in my country is the first option for achieving that goal. If I fail here, I will not quit. I have a cousin who works in Sicily and wants to help me. Maybe I’ll go there, we’ll see. But for now, education above all else.”

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