Romanian children will always live in our hearts

We are back home in Switzerland now, preparing our last blog from the trip. We decided to choose three questions that we will answer and to share our favourite pictures from our visit to Romania with you.

What was your biggest emotion?

Stephanie: For me, the whole trip was emotional. But one of the most impressive moments was seeing the joy in children’s eyes when they got a family Polaroid picture. Perhaps the first one they ever got in their life. Our colleagues from Hong Kong had the brilliant idea of bringing a Polaroid camera so we could give back something little to the people we met.

Ines: I cannot really tell which was the most emotional experience. Wherever we were, I experienced touching moments, and I will probably never forget them. The pictures will help me remember. But one small thing moved me. We were visiting a home in a faraway village, and the small children’s shoes were hanging on the clothesline, probably so they wouldn’t get lost. But this kind of order in those surroundings touched me deeply…

Shoes on clothes line - by Ines Studtmann
Shoes on clothes line – by Ines Studtmann

Julien: My biggest reaction was to hearing all those sad children’s stories because I’m a father too, and I always connect them with my son. I also got emotional when I saw three girls sharing cookies with a neighbour. We have to think more about egoism in our daily life with our children.

Ildiko: The campaign posters from Save the Children (Salvati Copiii). They were really shocking to me. They are direct and real, especially about hurting children. They make you aware that healing the soul is very difficult. And that physical abuse is not the only thing that can hurt people, but so can rude words from the one we love the most. They can hurt even more.

Save the children poster -  listen to your kids  - by Ildiko Valko
Save the children poster – listen to your kids – by Ildiko Valko

What surprised you the most?

Stephanie:The biggest surprise was seeing how big the contrasts are even in Bucharest. The first few days we spent in villages and the last two days in Bucharest. The conditions for poor people in Bucharest were almost more dramatic than outside. A lot of people live in a little space, and there is no opportunity to plant vegetables or simply go to the toilet, except in front of the house. And when you leave a family after visiting, a few streets away you see a palace with gilded figures and railings.

Ines: On the first day we visited a project where kids can go to be with other kids. The parents are working and the children would otherwise be alone all day. We already said goodbye and were on the way as I shot this spontaneous special picture. The children were enthusiastic. I love to see happy people. I love moments like this.

Happy moment by Ines Studtmann
Happy moment by Ines Studtmann

Julien: My biggest surprise is the same as Stéphanie`s about the huge difference between the living situation of the city of Bucharest and the villages. I thought that it would be the opposite.

Ildiko: The openness and the welcome from the people and the children everywhere. Everybody was happily answering our questions, and if they could speak English they tried to talk to us.

Grandma in a community by Julien Thiery
Grandma in a community by Julien Thiery

What lessons did you take back home with you?

Stephanie: It is worthwhile in any case to do something. Even if there are only small steps, sometimes there will be big changes. There will always be people who don’t know limits and who flaunt money. You have to accept it. It is important for me to appreciate the small things. We do not need much material wealth to be happy.

Happy boy of the visited family by Stephanie Beer
Happy boy of the visited family by Stephanie Beer

Ines: I became aware once again that each person can do something to help others. I will tell as many people as I can about my trip to Romania, and hopefully I can inspire them about the project.

Julien: We should always keep in mind that we’re lucky and we have to live more simply. I’m very proud to have this experience, and I will try to open the eyes of the people around me.

Little girl singing for us - by Julien Thiery
Little girl singing for us – by Julien Thiery

Ildiko: This week I saw a lot of people who have really big problems in their lives, who have no idea how they and their family will survive and live another day. And they were still kind and smiled. And they can find happy moments in life. I think that is not often the case in our comfortable western world, and we all can learn from it. Don`t make your happiness dependent on things. Just realize it and let your heart feel it.

Home in the middle of Bucharest by Stephanie Beer
Home in the middle of Bucharest by Stephanie Beer
Smiling session with Julien Thiery - by Julien Thiery
Smiling session with Julien Thiery – by Julien Thiery
Village visit close to Bucharest by Ildiko Valko
Village visit close to Bucharest by Ildiko Valko
Old Roma woman in Bucharest by Ildiko Valko
A Roma woman in Bucharest by Ildiko Valko

 

English
    Ildiko Valko