I badly wanted to go on IWitness trip but I didn´t expect to be picked. And then I got a mail—˝I’m very happy to inform you that you’ve been selected for this year’s IWitness programme!!˝
I was in shock, positive shock, and that was the point when I started to think about everything. How is this trip going to be? How will we understand each other? Where are we going? Am I strong enough to be around so many children with different stories without crying? Those were my most important preparations—mental preparations.
And that day had come—our first day in Romania and the first school that we were going to visit. I woke up and my emotions were mixed. I was stressed, excited, scared, happy, sad and suddenly I didn’t know anymore what to expect. So, we were driving in a van and finally came to our destination. We went into a class full of children of different ages. They were very polite and kind. We didn’t feel unwanted or uncomfortable, it was just opposite; we felt very welcome. When we settled down, we started playing games with names and I felt very happy and comfy because everyone had a good time, laughing and having fun. Also, we decorated Easter eggs together and, at the end, all the kids gave us their eggs to take it home with us—like a memory. That was first situation that was really hard for me because those kids don´t have much but they gave us those eggs rather than take them home to their families.
On the second day I thought that I knew what to expect. They told us that we are going to visit a kindergarten. These children are still very young. We played, we coloured, we had so much fun and joy. We brought some small toys, bananas and chocolate eggs for kids. They were so grateful and so happy with these little things. And then I asked myself: “Are those things really little?” For us, probably, but for them it’s something big because they don´t get gifts that often. That was my second really heavy moment.
The third day was a little better at first sight. The kids were really happy and playful. They received us by singing a song, which they sang for the second time and they were really great. This time, we decided to give them sheets of paper on the floor and told them to draw one big drawing of anything they wanted as a group. And it was fantastic.
We were also drawing on a floor with them. It was crowded and we didn’t have enough space or enough colours. But it was the best group work we did on the trip. We laughed and pushed each other, we painted each other, we borrowed brushes from each other, we waited to get a little space to draw a just a little flower and that was the perfect picture of fun and togetherness.
This workshop showed us that sharing is beautiful, that we need to have patience for everyone and that you don’t need something special to have some good time or have fun, as long as you have good company. And we had perfect company that day.
I woke up and realised that this was the fourth day, which also meant our last day of the trip. After three days of visiting schools and a kindergarten, I didn´t expect anything different because it was the last day. I was prepared for something similar to the days before. First, we went to a small village where our last school for visiting was. There was one small boy who didn´t want to be disturbed while he was making his Easter basket out of paper. I asked him could I help him, and he gave me pencils to start painting. He didn’t want to talk, play or laugh like the other kids. He was concentrating on his job and didn’t stop working on that Easter basket until he had finished it. He was very polite and diligent, well-dressed, clean and tidy. Just like all the other kids.
It was time to say goodbye to everyone because the children had to go home. I thought that this was my last visit to children in Romania. We went to our vans and they told us that we were going to drive through another small village nearby and that was great idea. After few minutes of driving, we parked vans and they told us that we could do a small walk. We were all like: “That’s great!”
They started to talk with women from that village and, after short talk, she invited us to come in her house. I walked in and I was just standing at front door in shock. There was no water, electricity or toilet. The “lobby˝ of this house had only one old stove, one small bed and a dirty bucket with water. I walked into another room, which had only two beds and saw six little children. One of those children was a little boy from the school that I already wrote about.
That was the hardest moment of my whole trip. My heart almost exploded, I couldn’t believe that people can live in those conditions and that children have to grow up in that kind of environment. In school, you see all those playful, happy and tidy children and you can’t even imagine how are they living until you see it with your own eyes. And that’s the second side of a story that only a small group of people can see.
Then you come to the point when you realize how grateful you should be and what a beautiful life you have in material way. But you also realize that no matter how rich or poor you are, happiness is something that comes from family and the people who surround you.