In this post Verena Hanke-Neuland talks about a special trip to Romania. But also about the happiness and generosity of a community that sticks together and supports each other in everyday life to master the small and big hurdles in life together.
This year we are celebrating our 50th birthday. We are very happy and grateful that we have been around for so long. To do that, you need a few ingredients: courage, ideas, innovation, discipline, perseverance … and an ingredient that you can not influence yourself: luck.
And we have been quite lucky – fortunately.
Not all people in the world are that lucky. We are aware of that.
Therefore, we would like to use our anniversary to share our happiness. We want to help those who live in other parts of the world and find it much harder to change things in a positive way.
You do not need to go that far. Prosperity has never been more unevenly distributed around the world than it is today. More than half of the population in Romania e.g. lives below the (poverty-adjusted) European poverty threshold.
You can influence “good relationships” yourself
I wrote an email to one of our suppliers. We have a good relationship with him for many years. He has business contacts with Hungary and Romania, as he comes from there. So I asked if we could do something good together in the schools there.
Shortly afterwards he replied “Count me in”. It promptly came to a meeting in Eichenzell, where we decided together with him to send a large donation to Romania. A few days later, at Neuland everything was packed. Everyone helped. Thanks for that!
And then the trucks drove up. Tables, chairs, pin boards, flipcharts, whiteboard boards and even pinboard felt rolls were loaded and headed to Romania. What a blessing that we could trust that everything would arrive safely and securely on the spot.
The first action of our movement “DRAWN to HELP – HELP to DRAW“ was initiated. Further actions will follow in the future.
Our goal: Everywhere in the world there should be room for visualization, opportunities for communication and sharing knowledge and experience.
Now the donated products were well received. But we also wanted to get to know people on the spot and see what else we could do. So Guido and I traveled to the place where the donations should bring real benefits: Lazarea in Transylvania. Nearly 3,500 people live here, the majority of them originally Szekler (Hungarian origin).
By plane we went to Bucharest, then by train to Brasov and finally by car to Lazarea. There we were received so warmly – that we often did not even know what to say. Whether the mayor of the place, director of the school(s), teachers or parents of the children: we were welcomed with open arms. Often with “schnapps” and home-baked 🙂
Time and again, we met people who invest a good deal of their time in the service of the community. That’s how they work together to share knowledge and tools, said István (= Stefan). He is a studied veterinarian, then trained as a police officer, but has learned so much in the field of “building” and “renovating” for many years that he regularly helps in construction projects in Germany.
He would like to hand on his knowledge and experience in his village. But it usually lacks the necessary equipment. We hope that this will be changed in a positive way.
Hospitality of a special kind
After the reservation of a room in a small Inn in the village unfortunately failed, we learned once again the special hospitality: István and his wife Ibolya invited us without further ado to live with them. Both speak German very well. They have 3 children, all of them go to the local schools. They are neighbors of Zoltán and his wife Czilla, who is a local teacher.
Czilla coordinated the distribution of the donated products on the spot. So the right things came to the right place.
With a large team of volunteers of course, e.g. the teachers or even the parents of the schoolchildren. That’s what we noticed so much. They work quite naturally together – whether professionally or privately. They are friends to each other and help each other. Everyone helps and makes a contribution. For example, fruit, vegetables, (goats)milk, or meat are shared and exchanged.
But back to school: The classrooms were previously equipped with old furniture and only a little board area. During our visit, however, at least one extra board from Neuland was found in every classroom, in some cases also flipcharts, media cars or new chairs. Great popularity also enjoyed the pinboard-felt-cloth, which we had sent. This is covering now simple styrofoam plates.
Unfortunately the kids had vacations when we were there, so we only met a few of them (out of school). They diligently taught us Romanian and Hungarian. But not only that. We also got photos of the schoolchildren with the Neuland boards. How nice that they are already being used in action.
Even true community is a treasure
All in all, we have learned a lot: In Germany, we are largely rich in material things. Concerning “working together for a common cause”, holding together and being grateful for what is there, our Romanian neighbors from the village Lazarea may be one up on us here in Germany. For that matter, they are rich.
And they always enjoy sharing in this wealth with their guests. So we were welcomed at the weekend on a barbecue area, where we again met some familiar faces: teachers, director, neighbors and friends. They prepared food and we spent the whole day with a large group of villagers. Potatoes were grilled by the fire.
Homegrown vegetables such as peppers and tomatoes … and of course homemade schnapps … there are just so many fruits on the spot…