We have seen that when another person, group or community gets involved to share a vision of hope with those who experience deep poverty they can partner together with them to begin to make an exchange. The beginnings of a transformation process. We call this the "PovertySwap". We first made this exchange during our first trips to post revolutionary Romania in 1990.
Historically it was a time of great change, across Europe especially, and those 'eastern bloc' countries that had been isolated and feared as they lay behind closed borders suddenly became accessible, only to reveal terrible stories of great need, horrific poverty and personal ideals that had not given their promised good harvest.
With compassion compelling our actions, and very little knowledge of the practicalities of such journeys, many of us banded together, driving loaned trucks, hired vans and even our own cars, in convoy and sometimes non-stop, across Europe's increasingly narrower roads and tracks to deliver cargoes of food, clothing and medical equipment for people in Romania who now found themselves without even the means to obtain the daily bread that had been provided for them by the previous regime.
It was during our 5 years of making these trips that we made our first relational partnerships and friendships that have spanned the years. Of course Romania in the 21st Century has undergone much change and those journeys of the 90s did much to highlight awareness of basic human values and the human rights and needs upon which many communities have built – especially in relation to children and people with disability.
However with the economic chaos throughout the world, and particularly in the Eurozone, it is once again those who are at risk of poverty in Romania who are the most vulnerable. Our Partners wrote as another fearful winter approached in 2011 that it seems things are "worse than ever...". Ordinary hard working people in Romania already feel the cutbacks, austerity measures and rapid decline into pre-90s poverty! Once again their children are the victims of general ideals that promised so much. And of course global migration means many are seeking a better way of life somewhere else – with little welcome from those countries which themselves are feeling the draft of economic chaos and despair.
It feels to us like the sentiment that prompted those adventurous journeys of compassion in the 90s has long evaporated and at PovertySwap we are thinking the time has come to stand shoulder to shoulder again with those who are giving their own lives to make the world a better place for others. They have the ideas, the energy, the vision – by connecting and sharing together our skills, resources and knowledge we believe we will not only bandage up wounds, but will establish work that is stronger, more sustainable and vital for the future and wellbeing of Romania's poorest communities.
We are venturing into opportunities that could lead to
If you, or anyone you know has an interest in, or has ever travelled to Romania then do Contact Us – there is some unfinished business there!