A jouney never to be forgotten...




My name is Elise Vanden Borre and I'm studying Orthopedagogics at the Karel de Grote Hogeschool in Antwerp. I am in my last year and I got a task, together with two other students, to do a trip abroad to compare the social assistance with ours. As soon as I use the word "journey" I immediately had an answer ready. Romania! We could not get out anyway. Why? 



BEVERLOFOTO MMMy grandparents Emiel Baetens and Martha Nevelsteen were travelling to Romania for 15 years. They visited the whole country and brought each year clothing, toys and stuff to  the villages. I grew up with it. Since my childhood I do not know other than that my old clothes and toys reach the store room of Vake and Ma for Romania. When we came to visit my brother and I were also overwhelmed with exciting stories about what they saw there and had done. Vake showed pictures, looked at a map and could talk about it for hours. Of course it wern't always fairy tales. They have been held for a time in 2005 in a flood. That was quite a shock. Anyway most of the stories were very pleasant and convinced me to  visit once Romania. Now it's finally going to happen, I'm going to do it ... Faster than p expected, but that did not matter to me. I was ready to follow in the footsteps of my grandparents, and to explore the country. It 'll not be an easy trip .

kdglogoWe received no support from our school and we had to arrange everything ourself. We contacted VZW Geels Romanië committee and asked to help us with this. Immediately we were invited to go along with them and meet there Johny Suru. The man who has supported us incredibly in Romania, as it turned out.


We got on this visit  more explanation about how our stay would go, where we would sleep, what it would cost  ... Johny asked us what our school assignment just meant and told us that he would arrange all for us. The contact with him was not always easy, but eventually he sent us an email in which he confirmed that we were going to take a visit at different facilities. Then we went along with my grandparents. Vake told us with pleasure about his many travels, took five thick covers full of photos above, showed us the video of the flood at the time, gave us numerous maps and information guides ... We had more than enough material to discover  the land. We selected the most important information and processed it in three presentations, which we  had to bring our classmates. It was pleasant to prepare  this, because we learned in this way a lot about the country. It was a good preparation to start with. Just before our departure we were still looking for some useful phone numbers, and already learned some basic words Romanian. That would certainly come handy !

And then it was so far ... January 24th we left early in the morning to the airport to begin our adventure. I was really looking out and could not wait to meet everyone. Once we landed we went to the exit of the airport. Here we soon found Johny and his wife Gaby. They brought us to our new home village Slatina Timis. You would think that a 2-hour drive would be boring, but that was not true. We saw beautiful, brightly colored houses and nicely decorated front gardens. We saw a few local shops, billboards where we recognized from a few words, we saw shepherds with their sheeps, people who walked on the streets ... It was nice to get used to this new environment. Once we arrived at our host families we were received extremely friendly.



The family Aghescu took very good care of us, our suitcases were installed, they gave us some food. Food ?! I hope it was good ... We had heard in advance both good and bad things about the Romanian food and we still were a bit worried that we would not like it. We had each been lulled with the words "Oh well one week little food is good for our line." But those words were absolutely unnecessary. I think I have never eaten so much in my life. It was incredibly delicious and we were served at our beck and call. Father Gheorghe proudly showed his entire collection of spirits and wine and let us taste them all. We did not complain. The first evening  Catalin, the son of our family, took us to the GLT, youth organizations. We met several young people from the village and played with them a few games. The evening flew  over and we could finally go to sleep tired but satisfied. The next morning we got a great breakfast and then we went on a walk through the village. Catalin and Gabriel, the son of Johnny, showed us all the important places in the village. They told us a little about the faith and visited with us the Catholic and Orthodox Church. After several hours of walking we went for a drink in the small café in the center. They told us about their leisure activities, their education, ... We also let us see each other money. They did not understand that our money is tearable, and we did not understand why their money is plastic. After a nice afternoon, we went home to eat and we played for a pet-game with the whole family. The next day we would stay less with the family because the kids were back in school and the parents do not speak English. Johny had our plan for the day also so crammed that we hardly had time to go home to eat. It was a very interesting week with different experiences. We learned something about the school system and visited the three schools in Slatina-Timis. We also got a detailed tour of the medical center and pharmacy. Johny proudly told what Slatina Timis had achieved with the help of the association. He told how progressive they are facing many other villages and was clearly proud of his work. And so they should, because this medical center is a fine example of care.

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Halfway through our week we met Kris and Hilde. We are incredibly grateful that we have encountered them, because they have been a very big help for us. We told them what we had seen and learned and they sharpened our information a little. Because  it was sometimes told us  too rosy. So we learned to differentiate the information and we were able to create a more accurate picture. They went with us the next day also on path outdoors Slatina Timis. We visited the three other boroughs of Slatina: Ilova, Sadova Noua-and-Sadova Veche. We visited the city Caransebes and took a look at the mall for us around here just went to dinner. We went in Zagujeni also a home for children who come from difficult home situations. The children are looked after very well, they are staying in residential groups by age. We have teamed up with Kris and Hilde and decided to collect clothes for them. So far, that very well.

We are now 3 weeks after our trip as I write this report, and there is already a whole bunch of stuff in my room, waiting until it goes to Romania. I am convinced that the association can make a lot of people happy with it. Romania made a great impression on me. It's amazing what people can accomplish  with the few resources they have. They are doing well, but they still need a lot of support  to get further. I am pleased to say that I would be part of that support. I have decided that I will go back this Summer to Slatina-Timis, and that I also want to deploy on the association and to lend a hand when they organize material collection activities. I am now back in Geel but  a part of me is still in Romania.