A Story About Why “Life Is Tough”

…Sebastian, who was deeply in love with her, was already decided to follow her anywhere she goes. His mother, 67 years old, would have to come with him since he simply couldn’t leave her behind and alone.

Hypothesis No. 1: Immigration is one of the factors which is having a direct impact on unemployment.

Hypothesis No. 2: Emigration is one of the factors which may (in many cases) have a direct impact on unemployment.

Hypothesis No. 3: Internal immigration from rural to urban is one of the factors having a direct impact on unemployment both in rural and urban with a positive correlation (note: the word “positive correlation” does not have to mean “good”; here it means that if A goes up, B goes up as well, or if A goes down, B also goes down.)

Hypothesis No. 4: Internal immigration from rural to urban may, in many cases, trigger a positive feed-back loop between this internal immigration and youth unemployment, having also a multiplier effect in rural.

Hypothesis No. 5: The size and impact of the correlations, in the cases that hypothesis No. 3 and 4 are accurate, can increase while the delay times of the feedback mechanisms may decrease. (In other words, we may have a bigger and stronger and deeper “vicious circle”.)

Hypothesis No. 6: In the cases where hypothesis No. 3 & 4 & 5 are accurate, youth and women would be more directly effected then mid-ages/elders and men.

Hypothesis No. 7: Once hypothesis No. 3 & 4 & 5 & 6 are accurate, a new positive feed-back loop between Hypothesis No. 3 & 4 & 5 and hypothesis No. 6 would be triggered.

Let’s take the story from the beginning.

Antonio, a boy who finished high school in a small village in the South West rural of Spain decided to move to Barcelona. He had a long goodbye kiss with his 2 years younger girlfriend, Leila, who was also seriously considering to move to a big city. This village was basically not enough for them…

He moved to Barcelona in the summer time. There was lots of tourists, so he didn’t have lots of difficulty to find a temporary job : He started as the cleaner of a restaurant-cafe. Isabella, 27 years old, who was also looking for a temporary job was only 15 minutes late then him to ask the restaurant manager if he has a job. “Sorry” said the manager, “I just hired one.” So Isabella stayed unemployed simply because Antonio was now in Barcelona. (Hypothesis No. 1).

In the meantime, the old owner of the only book store in the small village where Antonio comes from was about to make a hard decision. His business was quite down for quite many years, especially since there are these big bookstores and opportunity to buy books from internet. Add here the fact that there wasn’t a big interest on reading anymore; young people were one by one moving to cities, like that funny guy called Antonio, a frequent customer of his store, and the old farmers were either not the biggest fans of books, or they had a good stockpile of books in their libraries. After his fifteenth cigarette in last one hour, he sighed and called Rebecca, the only employee that he had. It was very hard for him to say these words, but he had no other option : “I’m shutting it down, I simply can’t afford it anymore. I will move to my small farm-house and live with pension salary. If you decide to manage the bookstore on your own, keep it and pay me just a little rent for the store. If not, good luck and goodbye my fella. I hope you will find your own way.” Rebecca would keep and run the store, if only she has a bit money and more importantly a drop of hope that the business would be good enough to keep her alive. But she hadn’t neither of them. Besides, girls on their 20’s wasn’t a very usual social phenomena in their village. She hugged the old guy, kissed him in the cheek and went to take the brush to clean the store for the last time. (Hypothesis No. 2)

Now both Rebecca and Isabella were unemployed, and Antonio was satisfied with a job that was paying a bit more then nothing with a permanent fear of founding himself unemployed the next morning. All that happened the same day. (Hypothesis No. 3)

The fact that the old guy did shut down his store, Antonio did get in to a highly unstable job, Isabella stayed unemployed and Rebecca became unemployed in the same day were just a beginning. Isabella had a single but very passionate hobby in her life : to play piano. She did cut down all her other unnecessary expenses just to continue on her classes with her master Beatrice, a 40 years old piano teacher. Beatrice was living in a small flat on a poor neighborhood of Barcelona, and she was one of these idealistic people who don’t give up easily. The only reason she was still in this hostile (to her, at least) city was Isabella, her only stable student, a girl without stable money but with a strong passion about piano. Something hard to find nowadays. That’s why, when she came to her flat and told her that she can not afford the piano lessons because she can’t find a damn job, and she’s tired to look for one, Beatrice nodded and said : “I will miss you. I hope you will be back to your piano soon, and for me, it seems it’s time to move on now. Without a good student like you, there is no reason to stay in this dark room and teach piano. I will sell my piano and other stuff, they would worth something, and open a small café somewhere around.”

After a really depressed day, Leila called Antonio and told him that she feels like she’s dying in this village, and that she can not see any future, especially since he was gone, and that she’s coming to Barcelona with him. Antonio was quite glad, but didn’t forget to talk Leila in responsible and rational way reminding her the potential risks, difficulty of finding jobs in the big city and potential problems that she may have with her parents. She was decided, and he was right. That night Leila and her parents had a quite strong debate which resulted with Leila going up upstairs and shutting the door, ready to pack up, empty her “emergency money bag” and head for the train station in the very morning. In the meantime his father was feeling a strong pain in his heart, which became a stroke in almost five minutes. That was a small village, but the hospital was still good enough to bring him in time and recover him from death. Leila couldn’t look into his father’s eyes, mainly because she was still strongly decided to go. His father raised his eyes and said : “I respect the way you insist on your decisions, go then. And don’t expect any support from us.” Next morning Leila was gone, and his father was writing the resignation letter from job. He knew his employer would be glad to read it, since he was about to fire somebody because the decreasing business.

Antonio’s sister, who was already bored and depressed of their villages, went to speak with her parents when she has heard about Leila’s departure. “Almost no friend left here for me. And my brother is there, I would be okay.” she said. Her parents have thought that it may be a good idea to make her finish the high school in Barcelona, she would maybe succeed to go to university as well then. They decided to sell their unused/”heritage from father” fields to this big company which was already pressing them for it, so they would have a bit money at least for some months, to give their daughter, so she could survive in the city and have a better future. Two weeks ago, after they have sold their lands, the big food company then had the chance to increase the pressure on another small field owner with strategic location. She gave up, since she was a widow alone now in the resistance, and put her house also on sale. The only choice was to go to big city and open a small café or something. She opened that café by the way, just across the one that piano teacher had, so now they had to really compete.(Hypothesis No. 4 & 5)

The village now was even smaller then it was few months ago. The village’s only restaurant’s owner told Naria, 28 years old woman willing to stay in village, that he can not employ her now, even though he kind of promised her before. He was old and could afford only one person who could do both serving and heavy jobs. A man, he was meaning. Naria realized at that moment that jobs in the villages were not anymore for woman, but mostly for man, since the villages were not villages anymore but kind of post-watch human settlements to ensure that the big-scale food and alike production on rural and for urban were able to be performed in the least-costly way. She was suddenly extremely upset and angry, and was seeing her future no where but in a bigger city. Sebastian, who was deeply in love with her, was already decided to follow her anywhere she goes. His mother, 67 years old, would have to come with him since he simply couldn’t leave her behind and alone. (Hypothesis No. 6 & 7)

What they’re doing now?

Antonio: Has been kicked out of job in the end of tourist season, try to find another job or go to university. Survive while sharing the money that his sister had.

Rebecca: Did get in to this farming company’s local office. Makes tea and coffees for the engineers and admins. No social life left almost. Planning to leave to city the day she has a bit stock of money.

Leila: Works here and there, she lives with Antonio and his sister. Wants to go university, but can’t for this year.

Antonio’s sister: Started on university, looking for a part-time job in the meantime. No results so far.

Isabella: After loosing her piano classes, she did get into an even bigger depression. Almost no hope for future. Called her big brother after a while, who works in a big company in USA, and will get supported by him for an unknown while. Stopped looking for a job for last few months.

Piano teacher: Run the café, it’s very nice but students don’t have much money. Barely survive. Has to compete with the widow.

The widow: Café is running so so, and she misses her village a lot. Planning to go back when she’s old enough to declare herself as in the last stage of her life.

Naria: Moved to city, married Sebastian who works now as a worker in a factory. Stays at home doing domestic work and taking care of his mother.

This is of course, a more or less quite absurd story. But that’s also the headline of what’s happening in everyday life especially in Europe. Mostly young and woman immigrates from rural to cities, mainly because a) there is no job for them, b) there is no fun and social life, c) a much open-up, full of opportunities, girls-guys around their ages, a better status quo then being a “campesino” waits for them; at least that’s what they believe in. Could we hear the word “unemployment” in a village or small town half a century ago? What happened to all these cool social interactions and social life of villages, and why being a village person now is mostly perceived as a shame? Is that a vicious circle which makes young and woman go to city, which in return makes the villages even less attractive / liveable for them, which results with more young and woman leaving? And besides that, how we can solve youth unemployment problem in urban areas while there is a strong and almost permanent flow of immigration from rural to urban? How we can at all solve this issue, besides many more problems, without properly tackling the structural and increasing distortion of balance/relation between rural and urban?

May “Bringing joy back to rural” be a good and easy step to take? Can we talk about eco-villages for a solution even to youth unemployment in both rural and urban?

Durukan Dudu
Young Greens of Turkey
SLU, Rural Development Master Student