social spark Aisling Beatha: Romania


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Friday, October 28, 2011


At the end of August this year I travelled to Romania for 2 1/2 weeks.  There are lots of beautiful places to visit in Romania (and I shall give you tips for a couple to check out if ever you go at the end of this post) but I was not there or a holiday.  Neither was I there on business, although there were business men on our flight.  No I was there to teach and to help.

Over the last few years I have been putting photos of my sewing projects on facebook.  Shopping bags, handbags, microwave wheat bags and so on.  The church that I attend has links with a ministry in Romania that works mainly with the local Roma gypsy population, Talmid.  I have members of that ministry as friends on facebook and one of them suggested in passing that I come over to teach the gypsy women some projects that they would be able to sell.  I wasn't sure if she was serious or not at first, but it turned out she was and so a friend and I launched into a fundraising campaign which finally resulted in our trip, accompanied by a whole case full of craft supplies which we had also bought with the money raised.

YES, I literally filled that case and realised I could not fit that quilting ruler in it.  So I bought a bigger case which enabled me to take all the craft supplies, 3 folders of printed out projects for them to try after we had finished our trip AND some clothes.  Thankfully September in Romania is still quite warm so we needed no thick chunky clothes.

I do however have a CPAP machine due to Sleep apnoea and had to find space for that in my hand luggage.  We were flying with a budget airline so an extra bag would have cost us dearly.

We arrived in Cluj Napoca pretty much on schedule and had an adventurous drive crammed into the back of a car full of laughter and silliness on the way back to Romosel.

The following video is from the first walk around of someone else who visited the same project as us.

We settled in at our little home for 2 1/2 weeks and each day would walk from there to the house that the ministry is based at.  The weather was hot and dry.  I think it only rained once the whole time we were there and we only needed jackets on a handful of evenings.

We soon got to work sorting through the fabric that had been donated in recent shipments that the ministry regularly receive from other European nations.

From that we worked out what we would do in each of the 6 sewing classes we would be doing.  
Over the 6 classes, we made various fabric flowers, did some silk painting and made 2 different designs of bags.  We started with hand sewing and finished the 2nd week using 2 of the sewing machines that had also been donated.

Here are a few of my favourite photos from the classes:

The lady in the top photo only came to two of the classes but she was so lovely.  I told her (through our translator) that she could teach me to sew because she obviously knew a lot more than I did and she shrugged and told me no.  I don't believe her!

And that last photo is my favourite.  We were only allowing the girls 13 years or older to come into class once we had the sewing machines out and this girl was pleading with me to let her make something.  The look on my face, does not depict some of the hard moments of this trip but does depict the joy of teaching and being around those girls when they were focused and enjoying what they were doing and creating and learning.  

Come back tomorrow for more photos from the Gypsy quarter and the places we visited while we were in Romania

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