Reisverhalen en wetenswaardigheden van en over Servas leden.
Servas was founded by Bob Luitweiler on the basis of Work- Travel – Education. Many of us have noticed travel becoming the dominant theme of Servas and we worry at meetings about rivalry with Couchsurfers and others and declining membership.
During the summer Chris and Marian Slader wanted to revisit Romania, a country they had visited in 1969, a beautiful, wild [complete with bears and wolves in the winter], mountainous country with an interesting history. We had all heard the horror stories of Ceausescu’s Romania and the aftermath. We had heard of Romanian children begging on the streets of London [since been on TV]. We knew Romania had joined the EU and now, it is easy to travel to, by road, rail or air and with no visas. With Brian and Anne Heagney, another Servas couple from London joining us, we decided to see for ourselves, a still remote country, with about 10 or 12 Servas hosts.
So our education was the goal.
The Sladers drove their camper to Bucharest, 2000km from Calais and met the Heagneys there.
Simona Dragoi is the national Secretary and we Back to Bob Servas Romania had a wonderful welcome. We went with her to Sinaia, a spa town developed during the Austro Hungarian Empire, which ruled maybe half the country at the time. There is still a 15% Hungarian speaking minority in Transylvania.
We found it an easy country to travel in with friendly help all the way, lots of English spoken and little bureaucracy for the tourist. The Servas hosts were keen to meet us and discuss.
While staying with Maria Toth, a Servas host in Hungarian speaking Transylvania, we were introduced to an organisation ‘Alliance for Life’ founded by Father Csaba Bojte ofm, a Franciscan Monk. He has set up his organisation to care for destitute children of all religions and ethnicity in Transylvania. 2300 children are looked after by his organisation, in 60 homes and cared for in small family units of about 10, each with a house parent.
We were introduced to his children’s home in Baile Tusnad, The unit cares for 104 children. They are aged from 3 to 19 years. We spent the day at this children’s home in Baile Tusnad and talked with an 18 year old German volunteer; a family volunteering from Hungary who had decided to work for the home doing repairs and endless washing; and the ‘boss’ a young man with a degree in Psychology, named Tibor who speaks perfect English and told us all about the home and organisation. He has been there for 5 years, is married and has his own child in his
own ‘family’ quarter. All the homes have a visitors’ wing and it is possible to go and visit or volunteer.
We next went to HQ in a town in South Romania called Deva and met the Economic director of the organisation. Cecilia has a degree in Economics. This home has 200 children and was similarly impressive. The children all seemed happy and looked in good health. They clearly responded to the staff and the love and friendship was a joy to witness. They fundraise to find one euro per day per child. Both Tibor and Cecilia showed great interest in the spirit of Servas and have taken steps to join.
We think they will be a great asset to Servas Romania and their organisation could provide a focus point for Servas travellers in Europe and Romania. Any help, volunteering, or donations given, are a personal undertaking but perhaps we can all use our Servas network to raise awareness of this need and similar needs in other countries.
Our travel experience is much enriched by becoming part of such projects.
Why not travel in Romania and see for yourself? You will be welcomed and informed and, like us, may be inspired to help them. We would like to see many examples of projects such as this, joined into the Servas family, and on the Servas map.
We know many Servas people are involved in projects around the world. Tell us about them.
Lets give our travellers a focus. Help fulfil Bob’s dream of a Global Village.