Today started out a little rough for me. I have done so well and haven’t really felt bad at all, then today I woke up with my stomach not feeling so well. Took some medicine, laid down and fanned myself, and then headed downstairs for breakfast. This is not a time to let a little stomach ache disrupt this experience and it didn’t! Fortunately, with time it went away and I had a wonderful and very touching day.
Today was our final day working on the project because tomorrow we are going to do some more cultural exploration. We had a good finale…we only shoveled gravel for a couple of hours and we got it complete!!! Again, Catalin came to help and so did Victor. While it may be hard work, it is nice to work alongside such a dedicated group of people.
Since today was a short day, after lunch Simona set up a surprise for us to go and visit two of the families who will be living in the center they are building. While only one of the mothers was home at the time, we got to see both of the homes since the families are related to each other (the mothers of the families are sisters). There are no words to describe what I saw. It is one thing to see it in a video…and that even is hard to fathom…but to see it in person you really get first hand perspective on their living conditions. I am speechless and makes me so grateful my basic human needs are met. I asked Peter if the families also get stipends, like in the Roma communities and got more clarification on how this works. Yesterday I mentioned that the families get stipends depending on how many children they have. This is true, however, it is how many children they have that are attending school.
This is the biggest nest I have ever seen! It is on top of one of the houses in the village where we have been working. We were really lucky to be able to capture the memory with a bird in it. She has babies in there as well…you could tell she was feeding them. It was very cool! I have to ask…if a bird built a nest like this on your house would you let the bird keep it’s home?
See the three rocks to the left of the picture? These were the magic rocks. We had the rock spread, but the truck dumped rock past the point that was necessary and the final thing was to get all of the gravel to the left of these rocks. You could imagine everyone’s temptation to move the rocks to the right. 😉
This picture was taken a short distance down the street in the village of Haghig…where the project is. This little village has such character. So much to see in this picture. The lady you see in the blue vest was pushing the cart in the foreground of the picture down the street and in the container on the cart is kerosene. Also, make note of the well…you can’t tell from the picture, but it is the kind you see in the old movies where there is a bucket attached to it and you lower it to get water. I thought is was really neat to see one of these. And of course…the horse and buggy. The colors on the houses in the village are all very bright…that pink is wild but it fits in.
This is the first home we saw of one of the families and it isn’t even as big as it looks. To the right of the doorway you will see a shelf which is where all of the clothes are kept. Then…once you get inside it is really just one room with 3 beds fit in somehow. SEVEN PEOPLE LIVE IN THIS HOME!
I am standing in the room of the home above. To get some perspective of size, I am standing against the beds on the other side of the room. The stove you see is how they do their cooking. The family does not have a refrigerator, electricity, or water and when they have enough money they have a generator for heat during the winter. Could you imagine?!
This is the families wash room…no sink or shower, just a place to relieve yourself. AND…it is open to the elements and you have to walk outside to get to it. No words can describe the feeling I got when I saw this.
This is one of the small rooms in the second home. It had two rooms, but they were smaller than the room in the first home. Five people live in this home. Again for some perspective, I am standing in very small area between the two rooms. Imagine a family of 5 or six and no privacy at all!
This is Rosa. She is the mother of one of the families and was very gracious to let us in to her home and share her story. She has lived here all her life. She lived here with her parents and her two sisters. At that time they had the whole house (now divided with her 2 other sisters) for their family and it was in better condition. When communism fell and her parents passed away her circumstances worsened and her, her sisters and their families divided out the house…basically having 1 room per family. Since the weather is getting nicer her husband has found some work in construction, but it is only temporary and when winter comes it gets more difficult for the family. One of the requirements to live in the center that Simona and Peter are building is that they help work on it and work in it when it is complete. They are very grateful to Peter and Simona for this opportunity. She had a smile on her face when Peter gave her the bag of food we brought for them.
As you probably already know from the work we have done, we are the very first group of volunteers working on this particular project. We are also the first volunteers to stay at Marianna and Victor’s bed-and-breakfast. I can tell you that we trae voluntares are proud of this. There is a special feeling you get when you help someone begin to put their dream/vision in action. I feel very honored and cannot say enough positive things about the kindness and generosity we have been shown.
Victor has been having a hard time comprehending how/why we come from so far away and pay to work. He says he understands that we like the deep cultural experience…but not why we want to do hard work. The only answer…for me…is that my time and energy here is WELL worth it. I KNOW this experience will change the way I travel in the future and it has brought my thinking, understanding, and compassion to deeper levels. Learning about a different way of life has been extremely meaningful and inspirational.