At times, tension was greatly felt throughout the experience, especially during and after long hours of distant driving, passing from numerous of unknown cities and villages through never ending high ways. During this time, while looking at the beauty that Romania has to offer, we could not stop but to wonder about what life meant for the people that we were about to connect with.
Discussions amongst us kept us asking which country is truly experiencing poverty, whether it is us or them. We went to Romania equipped with all the technology and resources that we had worked so hard on getting in order to pass on to these people. However, the experience turned out to be quite different than what was expected. The families we met portrayed such strong message to us with their simple day-to-day actions, which I truly appreciated. It got me thinking about how materialistic we are. We end up finding happiness in the things we consume, which just leads us to an even more stressful life. The people we met live a more simple life, and get the opportunity to appreciate their beautiful picturesque surroundings, which are a very rare sight for us on this island. The connection with nature provided us with a very peaceful and calming state of mind.
Most of the people we met were isolated from the rest of the Romanian society, not just because of their societal status, but also due the long distances that separated them. Moreover, no one was aware of them and their stories. They portrayed the true image of poverty in silence. When talking about the concept of poverty, many think only of homelessness. However, poverty also includes the aspects of deprivation from daily necessities, lack of academic knowledge, lack of belonging, poor mentality and no vision for the future. Despite all of this, they always seemed to be happy and could enjoy the beauty of living in the present.
Personally, this experience gave me a different perspective towards life. The transition from my daily routine to a different one was not that hard to adapt to, since we were very well prepared psychologically. However, coming back home was quite difficult for me. I found myself surrounded with all the perks of our comfortable lifestyle, but could now realize that I can indeed manage to live comfortably, in a less materialistic environment.
Maria Xuereb – volunteer in the Romania project.