Reflections on my First Trip to Romania
It was my first trip to Romania and nothing could have prepared me for the breath taking beauty and calm of the mountains and vast fields split into strips of planting like a striped jumper. Nestled into the bottom of a valley is Cacica a pretty town made up of wooden houses set in gardens full of apple trees. This was where we would be staying, we arrived in the dark but early the next morning I was woken by the sound of horses trotting up the road pulling the carts to the fields to harvest the maize.
This all sounds idyllic, but, the reality of a life lived hand to mouth on the land is a tough one. As we drove to visit the villages around the town Falticeni I noticed the factory chimneys are no longer smoking and the buildings are turning to rubble with broken windows and rusting containers sitting in empty yards. The industry had stopped when Communism left Romania and the people lost their jobs and security in this city too. Many people are struggling to find work and families are breaking down as parents travel further afield to find employment.
The FARA foundation has been helping families in the forgotten villages around the town over the last few years. Andreea is an extraordinarily committed project manager of the Tackling Poverty Through Education programmes, who came back early from her honeymoon to show myself and Raphe FARA’s Managing Director around. At Bahna Arini we arrived just as lunch was being delivered and the children were washing their hands and sitting up at their tidy desks waiting for their food. It is a tiny school crammed full of smiling children who seem happy to be there. On the walls are maps of the world and autumnal leaf pictures and on the cupboard there is a wonderful pig made from a cabbage. The children eat bowls of soup, sausages, polenta and green cabbage followed by a rosy red apple.