Hello from Romania! Today was our second work day on the project, but not near as physically challenging…at least for the trae voluntares! We wake up every morning to a wonderful breakfast of bread, jam, cereal, juice, coffee, and eggs. Then…off to work we go! Today, before starting work, Peter took us to a Roma community. Someone from the Town Hall in social services went with us as a guide to share information and answer questions. We walked from the Town Hall to the Roma community and it was a nice walk with more horse and buggy carts as well. We have been very lucky so far to have very nice weather…we couldn’t have picked a better week.
It is really quite amazing and unbelievable how this Roma community lives….and Simona said that it will vary from community to community…some worse…some better. I did not know what to expect, but this community was very welcoming…and curious I think as well to some extent. As we walked through the street people came out of their homes, children were playing, and it seemed as if they were happy to have us. They seemed to enjoy us taking their photos and giggled when you would show it to them. We were there to learn more about them and that we did.
After this very informative cultural lesson, off to the work site we went. Today was the day we needed to take down a portion of the fence and break down the cement wall so big trucks could access the land with supplies. Breaking down the fence was the easy part…we probably did this in a half hour. However, the cement wall was another story. Luckily, Peter’s cousin came to help us today as well. It wasn’t too long before it was determined that a bigger and stronger jack hammer (at least I think that is what they are called) was needed. Once the right tool was in hand, the excitement began. But really…all we trae voluntares did was shovel a little dirt and move broken cement. The power tools were a little wild for us and as you will see by the pictures, the people from the village really helped out. Also, it is probably safe to say that we were all very sore from our hard work yesterday. Just standing up and sitting down reminded us of this.
Even though we trae voluntares felt pretty useless, we did act as sort of “cheerleaders” when big chunks of cement would crumble down. AND…I was just amazed at how many people from the village stopped by to find out what was going on, offering help, and even showing us some of their own craftsmanship in other trades. Indeed, a very friendly village it is. Even the politia (police) stopped by to make sure that there was a safe place to keep the tools at night. They came to help out, not to issue warning or for something bad. I found this to be interesting…in a good way!
The Roma children playing in the street. Unfortunately, children in this community to not get much of an education because their families do not have the means to do so. Just imagine how this factors into their future opportunities.
This home you see here was probably the best home we saw in the community…maybe only one other even close to it. Compare to the first picture…there can be a difference within the community even, but most of the homes were not like this. I asked if there was a hierarchy or anger when there is a home this nice in the community and Simona said that it depends…on if someone came in and helped them and not the others, or did they work hard and do it themselves. Makes sense to me.
The mother in this family has twins (the smaller boys) and she was so excited to get her picture taken that she went and made sure both were in the picture. We showed them the pictures when we were done and the smiles on their faces were wonderful!
Remember the picture of the wires I showed you in Bucharest…look at this!!! This is a long and thin stick in the ground with wire wrapped around it going to the Roma houses. Talk about dangerous, but this community is happy to even have electricity.
Not all of the Roma homes have running water. This girl got her water from a spring, like in the picture I posted yesterday, and carried it back with her. The next time you turn on your faucet…be thankful!
This gentleman was just walking by and asked what we were doing. He is a retired Hungarian man who lives in the village. I believe this particular village in Haghig, Romania is where Hungarians had settled. He has done this type of work all of his life and was very proud to show the other guys up using the jack hammer. 🙂 He had half of the 9 meters we needed to break down in an amazing amount of time. He would just look at us and give a little nod when a would get a big chunk off. He did all that work to help I am guessing because their mentality in this village is that they work hard, but he also worked because he wanted the 3 metal poles that stuck out of the cement. Peter happily gave them to him. I gained so much just from the local villagers who stopped by. Just amazing!!!!
AND…the finished product!!! The man on the left (also Hungarian) is another villager who came by and helped, but also showed us some of his work he does with wood and even the tools he uses to create his art. They were so open to sharing their lives with us. Peter’s cousin is in the middle, and the gentleman in the blue jacket is the one from the picture above. They did an awesome job!
My family in Romania: Left to Right – Brian, Kathe, Marianna, Victor, Simona, Peter. Tonight our dinner conversation consisted of more details of the Roma community as well as the homeless situation in our part of the world.
Even though work was not strenuous today, it was very rewarding. I was able to capture some video as well and will put together a little movie consisting of pictures and video sometime after I get back home. I am ready for bed and most of you are in the middle of your day. Enjoy and Napte Buna!
Just a little perspective so you can envision my stories a little more. Simona and Peter both speak English. They have been translating everything for us. Marianna and Victor do not speak English. This, to me, is what makes the conversations so lively. Hearing conversations in Romanian is fascinating to me. It is almost as if they use so much expression when they speak. I could just sit and listen to them talk all day I think. Brian, one of the volunteers, helps translate the metric system…which has been extremely helpful. So, it has been very nice to have everyone help out to make the experience that much nicer!
I also wanted to let you know that the videos I posted yesterday…Simona is the voice you hear as the narrator and the person talking with the families. She is the driving force with the vision behind this project. You can also visit their website at http://www.phoenixgroup.ro/.