something like this had never happened to us during our drives to Romania even though most of them took place earlier during the year in March.
On Eastern, April 17th 2017, it had been snowing over night in the region of Bergisches Land. When we exited the Autobahn to pick up our two fellow car passengers from Marienheide we immediately got stuck in the snow just like other cars before us. After many attempts of sliding back and forth and a quick prayer we were finally able to continue driving an hour later. But we weren’t spared from the snow in Sibiu as well.
By now almost every free spot on the property is being used for growing fruit and vegetables.
I’ve already told you about our ‚problem girl’ Bomby a few times. Last year we arranged a small apartment for her to stay. Since then she's been working in a factory to the full satisfaction of her employer. During the weekends she's eagerly helping out in the kitchen for the ‚freie Kost’ in the ‚Haus der Hoffnung‘ (House of Hope).
That the discrepancy between the urban and rural population will change during the next few years is highly unlikely.
Many things in Romania are still in a sorry state.
Why are well educated people still leaving the country? Well, a doctor and a teacher with a degree only make about 400 Euros a month which is equivalent to what a good mechanic earns. So you cant really wonder why they are going to Germany, Sweden or Switzerland where they can make that money multiple times. Leaving Romania in need of over 20.000 doctors.
Another big problem that is still ongoing is corruption. It is omnipresent and hard to fight against, also because top-ranking politicians are part of the criminal system.
It already being one of our habits we visited families to bring them a few necessities. Even after 25 years it is still hard for me to cope with these partly inhumane situations.
We are grateful that after 2 years of searching we finally found a good caretaker for the house!
As of right now Alexandru is still in a rehabilitation facility after a hernia. He is the brother of one of the girls we look after. Also we have another young man working in the House who will be Alexandrus right hand so to speak. This young man who is also called Alexandru T. used to be in an orphanage that Mimi got him out of. He’s got no parents and didn't have any personal documents. But Mimi put in an endless effort and succeeded to get him those vital documents.
A while ago I visited a young woman and mother of 2 small children. I am saddened every time to see how young people, and it is not an exception here, have their childhood and youth sort of taken away from them.
We were amazed that Alexandru T. and Kasandra are getting married now. A 3rd child is also on the way. This marriage can only last with the moral and practical support of Mimi. Since Kasandras parents have a little house in Rosia it is possible to build an add-on on their property. We want to help this young couple to have their own four walls.
Kinder Stefan u.Bani,Kasandra
mit den Trauzeugen Sandra (lks.)und
Dr.Alina (Ärztin im HausHoffnung)
This time it is a lot of the pictures that are saying more than a thousand words could ever express. Against all the odds und problems in this country I am still amazed by Romania with its still vastly untouched landscapes and its sociable inhabitants.
|die wenigen Sonnenstrahlen genießen||Bahnhof Selimbar||Skigebiet Hohe Rinne, ca.1600 m hoch|
I’m wishing all of us a hopefully great summer time with lots of sunshine and warmth.
Best wishes and thank you!
Your Ehrhart Weider
Up next is a report from Stefan with his impressions , who was with us for the first time.
A journey in romanian
17.04.2017 - 24.04.2017
A report from Stefan Höne
Curiosity is a booster in my life that keeps on getting me into situations where I am asking myself: Do you really want that?
And exactly that curiosity got triggered when Johannes asked me if I wanted to take part in an aid project for Romania. I was supposed to help Ehrhart, and as I later learnt his wife Edith, with a transport of relief supplies as well as their distribution on site.
Until then my only ever visit to Romania was in 1986 when I was wanting a cheap vacation at the Black Sea. The criminality and pollution of the environment that I experienced there shocked me even as a young adult.
Tourists from Eastern Europe were the number-two choice but us, Germans from West Germany constantly got asked about the ‚Westmark‘ and western products. When you saw locals wearing western clothing you asked yourself if they were maybe wearing your very own clothes after experiencing burglaries and stealing in the hotel.
The meals in the hotel were only edible if you had some strong liquor to make them go down and also have them stay down.
Simply put: I did not keep the totalitarian system with its people around the romanian dictator Ceausescu in good memory.
My consequence of those memories: I said yes! I will go to Romania with you.
On Easter Monday the plan was to start the trip with all the participants after having a good breakfast at the Koslowskis families house. I was eager to meet all the other fellow travelers and since I had gotten some information about them beforehand it seemed like it was very well possible to have a good time together.
So far, so good.
Easter Monday, the day of our departure was white like the winter. It had been snowing overnight in the region of Bergisches Land and Ehrhart and Edith managed to get just behind the Exit to Meinerzhagen with their VW Bus plus trailer before getting stuck in the snow. Already a small challenge, I was thinking to myself while secretly admiring the two Oldies that are both in their mid 70s. They had started their trip in Hamburg at 3am in the morning and also didn’t get much sleep due to excitement. Maybe they could catch up on that now.
But Johannes got us back on our way so that we could leave on time. We took a break at the next roadhouse to have breakfast and get to know each other a bit.
Listening to music I was soon driving us through the night on Hungarian streets. The floor of the VW Bus also gave me a place to get some sleep in between. And so, 27 hours, an uncounted amount of breaks and 1750 kilometers with a maximum speed of 90 kilometers an hour later, since we would have to pay for speeding tickets ourselves, we reached the ‚Haus of Hope‘ in Selimbar by Sibiu.
Upon arrival in Selimbar, Johannes and me got a guest room and the leaders of our group and our aid project got a little apartment in the upper level right above the entrance area. That way, they could keep an eye on everything here as well.
Originally the ‚House of Hope‘ was meant to be a girl’s home but over time it turned into a home for the elderly. And for them it is very well and comfortably arranged. The investments that have been put into the home lately to meet the demands of security and comfort are enormous. An elevator, fire precautionary measures and new doors for the inside are among other things that have been purchased and installed. Another aid organization from Southern Germany brought electrically-adjustable sickbeds and clothing that I was able to help unload and distribute.
I was deeply impressed that the leadership of the house in addition to taking care of the seniors, providing apprenticeship places and jobs is also supporting and leading other social projects.
A woman, who is also a grandmother around the age of 40 was employed so that she can take care of her daughter and her grand children. Those grandchildren had already been threatened to be taken away to a children’s home. But through the support and money coming from the new job this was successfully prevented. A win win for all sides.
A young man, a complete orphan, around the age of 20 is also working in the ‚House of Hope‘. I saw how he skillfully took care of the fruit trees. This was maybe the first time in his life that he had a social network that took him in.
The ‚House of Hope‘ brought more than just security to those 5 people. The young man met the daughter of the woman and as life goes, they fell in love.
We were guests at their wedding and even though everything was pretty simple the bride, groom and their families were more than just touched by the generosity of the house. They got to experience people helping them organize a wedding and arranging a little celebration as well as providing some food.
During that same week we also visited a few families in their homes. We came over unannounced with neighbors or members of the church.
We brought clothing, a prayer and a song that was speaking of hope and how God is close to us. What I witnessed in these houses were distraught people.
Children that didn’t know how to open the wrapper of a piece of chocolate. Youths, looking on the floor and more or less just apathetically enduring the events taking place around them. Grandmothers praying with us.
I am sure that those people noticed that there are others who are helping them. Mimi and Cornel, the romanian leadership of the house stand for this. I personally don’t know how to lead these people out of their situations or if that is even possible. I just hope they feel our good intention.
Fitting this situation I remember a saying from my Aunt Irmgard:
‚Better to have a small light than no light at all‘.
I did see a huge light in an old lady who is living in a multistory building in one of the many suburbs of Sibiu. The front of the industrialized apartment block already reminds of the sixties and seventies. The staircases are clean and the doors are shining as if they had been painted with lacquer. After the door had been opened for us there stands a woman greeting us in german. It is ours hostess’s best friend. The scent of coffee, cake and pastries are awaiting us and I do feel a little strange having our hostess not sitting at the table with us but taking part in the conversation while sitting on the couch.
The interior furnishing of this apartment reminds me of that of my grandparents which makes me almost feel at home. Windows with just one glass are a sight that I haven’t seen in a long time. We present our gift and are told about the garden with a simple hut in the mountains that is producing fruit, vegetables and lots of walnuts. This place the two elderly women can only reach by horse and cart or by foot. Our hostess surely was above the age of 70 and radiated such warmth and love. We sang our song for her and said our goodbyes. I was glad that the poor people in Romania did still have a bit of hope.
At the end a short episode from my last day.
The Carpathians aren't far from Sibiu so I was happy that despite of the heavy snowfall I was able to experience a hike lasting several hours. After a bit of research and assistance by the locals I was on my way and enjoyed the mountain air, woods, villages and the broad views.
I wandered through small mountain villages and their churches whose insides are being heated with wood fired ovens. I spoke to and laughed with shepherds whose sheepdog had huge concerns about me and took off in the opposite direction. A car driver pulled over on a side road and took me to the next crossing without me even having to ask.
An employee of a train station in Selimbar talked to me in old, broken German and spoke of the corruption in this country under which a lot of people suffer. There is enough here for everybody, not just for an insatiable few.
He was driving 20 minutes to work on his moped, spent 12 hour work shifts there, rotating with two of his colleagues. He was living in a one-room-house together with his wife. Their children were able to go to university and it was clear that he was very proud of them. His vice was smoking cigarettes and it bothered him badly but he told me that up to this day he hadn’t been able to quit.
The encounters with the Romanian people during this week were open and beautiful. This way I could open back up my old box of prejudice and empty it out.
My personal conclusion of this trip: It is good and right that we are there for these people, not just for the Romanians but also for ourselves. The ‚House of Hope‘ is like an island of salvation for the underprivileged and forgotten people of this country.
It is a miracle that this project has even been realized, but that is a whole other story.
Grettings from Bergisches Land