I am a German volunteer here in Romania, too. I am working together with Caro, Aninka and Eva in an after school program for socially disadvantaged children. Each morning we are travelling from the wonderful city Cluj-Napoca to our working place, Mera, a little village near by. It is amazing that we have the possibility to experience the life in the city and in the village at the same time. In Cluj you have nice old buildings, many cultures, much traffic and many students. So you feel like a time traveller on the way to Mera, the village with more horse buggies than cars, old women in traditional clothes and children which never left the village. That means that we also have the possibility to see how Roma are living in different environments.
We often see Roma in the city selling self made spoons, mobile phones and everything you can imagine, at the station or on wonderful flea-markets. In the village you can find very many little houses on the Roma-hill where all generations are living together. On the roads when we were travelling we saw a third possibility of how some Roma live. We passed by ornate Roma castles with their typical silver roofs. Interesting about these castles is that the owners often only live in one room. It is very interesting to learn about the Roma situation let’s say as a foreigner. I didn’t know much about Roma, so I tried to come here without a picture in my head, open for both sides, what sometimes is really hard.
But until now I have the experience that both, Roma and Non-Roma, are very friendly, helpful and hospitable persons. So it is really no problem to find someone who has a nice conversation with you, takes you for a ride or invites you for a coffee.
I really enjoy the work with the children. If you want to find out more about what I am exactly doing there and how our organisation works you can read Caro Barth’s perfect description in her profile. What I really like in our organisation is, that they have a really all-embracing program. They have the after school program, camps and activities in Cluj for the children, an elderly home for the old people and the possibility for the mothers to sell jewellery out of beads. I really like that our colleges there are visiting the families at home to see the situation there.
It is really fun to live in exchange with the different cultures here. That was one of my expectations I had before I came here. I also wanted to see more from the world, do something practical and make the experience to live abroad. I am very happy that this year also gives me some time to find out what is really important for me in my life and what I want to do after.
So I can advise everybody to experience a year like this!
Bekki Schön has began her voluntary service in Mera, Romania since September 2011.