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Sunday, 27 October 2013

HOW DO YOU RAISE HALF A MILLION POUNDS?

A link to our crowdfunding page; 
http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/house-for-orphans-in-romania/x/5193412

How do you raise half a million pounds?

Stupid question isn't it?

It's just a pipe-dream really.

So why am I asking it?

Yesterday we went to look at a house. We have been asked to go and look at it for some time, and, finally, yesterday, on a gloriously sunny late Autumn day, we went to see it.
We aren't property experts, we have been asked simply because the elderly couple who own it have been trying to sell it for some time now, and another friend of ours suggested to them that we might be able to get it onto the internet and help to make that sale.
We have passed the house many times on our way to and from the city, but I had never seen it before.
To put it simply, I had never looked.


When we got there, parked up outside and then walked down the drive through almost a Hectare of mixed-fruit orchard, I have no idea what I expected to find, but it certainly wasn't what I actually did find.
The house was built by this couple for their family. They bought the land in the early 90's with a plan to have their own very large house built, where sons, daughters, and grandchildren could all visit and stay together occasionally. 
Unfortunately though, over the years as their family has grown and they have all created their own, busy, independent lives, none of them have ever stayed at the house.
The first year after they bought the land they planted cabbages on it, just so that the land was being used. When they sold the cabbages at the end of the season they made more for them than they had paid fro the land!
Over the years the couple have continued to develop their dream, and the house has grown, together with a large number of very useful outbuildings.
It is now surrounded by mature fruit trees giving apples, pears, cherries, and plums, as well as at least one nut tree.
Another adjacent piece of land of about half a hectare in size has been used this year to grow Maize, which is a staple part of the Romanian diet, as well as being very good animal feed. Traditionally even the cobs are used. Once dried they make very good fuel for fires.
The house itself is enormous, with about nine bedrooms on three levels as well as three bathrooms a large dining room, kitchen and an  enormous pantry, and more.
It is built in a traditional Romanian mountain style, looking very Tyrolean, or even slightly Swiss. 
Houses of this style are common in the mountain regions of Romania, but not in lower lying villages where this one is.
It is almost entirely timber-clad, with traditional carved detailing.
As you rise up through the three levels of the house and go out onto one of the many balconies, each has a stunning view of the nearby village and the hills beyond, as well as over the fabulously beautiful valley that the house sits in.
Building this house has been a labour of love for this couple, and that is obvious as you tour it, you can feel the love that they have put into it.
After we had been shown around, taken hundreds of photographs, and we were sitting talking to them about how we might be able to help (over the inevitable glass of Tuica, of course), the real purpose of this house and our visit there just suddenly filled my head, and those thoughts have just carried on coming and coming since we left, promising that we would be back.
We, as Volunteer Romania, work with some local orphanages, as well as schools for special needs children, and we try to bring as many volunteers as we can from all over the world to help. It's a thing that we love doing and it is our whole reason for being here in Romania.
It is all entirely non-profit and on its own would never be able to yield the funds for a project such as this.
While Ali was chatting to the couple though, I just kept looking around and I started to see a bigger picture, a bigger possible future for the house.
I saw it filled with children, of all ages.
i saw it busy and bustling and productive.
I saw the couples dream, only not, sadly, with their family.
I saw the house and the whole property as new orphanage.
The location is ideal, the house is ideal, and it would take very little additional work to make it operable as a home for the children who we work with.
We would even be able to provide separate accommodation for volunteers and helpers.
The people we already work with at two nearby orphanages would be an intrinsic part of making it work, as would the children. The house would become another member of the 'family' of houses that they have already built for the kids.
It wouldn't just be a house though, it wouldn't just be another orphanage. it would be a working property. The hundreds of fruit trees could be tended and picked every year, the fruit then used to make preserves, jams, cakes, pies, etc etc just as they have been by families in Romania for hundreds of years.
The fields could be used  and the produce they yield could be used in the same way.
In this way, as well as getting an ordinary education, the children would also learn the traditional village skills of self-sufficiency, and by doing so may help to maintain a traditional way of life that has lasted and lasted, through wars, changing political climates, and through periods of poverty and hunger.
There is more that can be done here though, far more.
There is space between the trees in the orchards to grow even more produce, potatoes, onions, garlic, beans, ......the list goes on and on.
There is space to build a large greenhouse.
There is space to keep chickens, lots of chickens....so lots of eggs.
The childrens' home had a chicken enclosure last year, but it was at a house in the city, and the neighbours complained of the noise the cockerels made. Eventually notice was served by the authorities stating that 'the chicken house is not in an area where it is appropriate to keep chickens', so it had to be pulled down. All of the chickens though were re-homed by being gifted to a different orphanage out in the country.
There are plenty of experienced locals who would be willing to help, advise, and teach, so that the children and their carers could gain a level of self-sufficiency that they would never otherwise dream of.
Any surplus could be sold at the local markets to help fund the day-to-day running of the home.
We also have another dream of providing respite for the many special needs children we know and respite for their families, and this property could also do that. A small mini-bus would also enable us to be able to collect those children from the city and transport them to play and work alongside the more able-bodied kids so that they could benefit from it too.
They would get some fresh air while their families also get a well-deserved break knowing that their children would be safe in good hands..

It's just a dream though.

It would take about half a million pounds to buy the property and give the elderly couple a fair price for it.
A little of what was left would be used to make the house right for the children and to make it fully disabled accessibe. Some would also be used to pay the inevitable legal fees in setting the home up with it's proper status in Romania.
A little would also be used to buy that minibus, it is an essential.
None of that would take long though, because the property is so perfect.

So?
Anyone out there know how to raise half a million pounds?
That's about 585, 000 euros, or about 800,000 US Dollars.

When you think about it, it isn't actually a lot in the great scheme of things, but I have no idea where to start, or how to go about raising such a sum.
By the time I do find out, it may be too late anyway, and the house will be sold.

So is there anyone out there who can help?
Anyone who can advise me on how to raise the money. or maybe just hand it over now, so that we can turn a dream into a reality?

Even if there is someone out there who can see the dream too and would like to do it themselves, we would be only too willing to help.

We all need a dream in life, but to have suddenly found a dream in this way, a dream with such purpose is so special, and it isn't a dream that I can just allow to fade away without at least giving it  a try.

Wish me luck!

Steve
Volunteer Romania
www.volunteerromania.co.uk






Friday, 25 October 2013

HORSES AND CARTS - A COMMON SIGHT IN OUR VILLAGE

Horses and carts are a common sight in the village we live in, just as they still are all over Romania.
The horses are hard working.
They take families and workers to the fields, then plough or draw other farming equipment while they are there, and then they bring whatever has been harvested home again.
These ones though are special and These are just some quick snaps that we took of them yesterday evening.
they belong to a friend of ours, who bred these horses, just as he has done all of his horses through his lifetime. he carried on where his father left off and these two are his fifth generation.
They are so perfectly matched. Unlike many other pairs of horses that you see.
When these two trot down the road, only one horse can be heard, they are so perfectly in unison.
Here they are happy, it is the end of their working day and they are bringing their winter feed home.

Steve
www.volunteerromania.co.uk

Friday, 18 October 2013

TRAVELLING FROM AMERICA TO ROMANIA MIGHT BE ABOUT TO GET A LOT CHEAPER

We have already had a lot of volunteers from America join us on Volunteer Romania's programme working with the the under-privileged children and children with special needs of Romania.
The biggest problem for them though has always been the high cost of travelling from the USA to Romania.
Well, that may all be about to end.
A new discount service will be launched from July 2014 providing fares as low as £300 return from New York, Fort Lauderdale and Los Angeles to Gatwick Airport in London.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2464653/Budget-airline-Norwegian-offers-150-flights-New-York-Gatwick.html?ICO=most_read_module
Cheaper flights are already available from Luton Airport in London from another airline, called Wizzair 
With a coach transfer between Luton and Gatwick airports only costing £10, it is entirely possible that the total cost of a trip from the USA to our preferred arrival airport Cluj-Napoca, here in Romania, may costs from as little as £450 to £500 return!
Great news if it means that more of our American friends can join us here.
Steve

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

THE MOMENTS THAT MATTER WITH VOLUNTEER ROMANIA

Although every minute of the time I get to spend with the children at the children's home is a real pleasure, there are the odd moments, just like this one, which are so special, and which remind me why we are really here in Romania with Volunteer Romania

Steve

Sunday, 11 August 2013

ANY QUESTIONS?

If anyone has any questions or comments about any of my Blogs, Romania, or just want to say Hi!
Don't be afraid to contact me at bookholidayvolunteer@hotmail.co.uk
Steve

Sunday, 28 April 2013

BEST LAID PLANS

Our weather has changed.
After a long long winter, and a hardly existent Spring, summer has arrived, with a bang.
Sunshine all day long and temperatures up to 30 deg C.
The weather forecast told us it was coming so we planned for it.
At last we could get out into the garden and plant all of those oh so essential crops for this year.
At last we could get outside and do some of the essential maintenance work that need to be done and start to build our greenhouse and the chicken run we have decided that we need.
In Romania though, nothing ever seems to go to plan,, so we should have known better.
On the first day of the sunshine our hot water heater decided to go wrong and started delivering steam through the taps instead of hot water. A little investigation and a little common sense told us that it was the thermostat, which is a relatively easy job to replace, and we did so. Whilst doing it though we discovered that about 6 of the joints in the hot water pipework were leaking badly, apparently having been melted by the overheated water passing through them!
They are still dripping away, soaking our basement floor, for reasons that will become apparent if you read on.
That evening we discovered that our website had gone down down. It didn't only go down, it disappeared completely. It transpired that our Hosts servers had crashed, and by the time we discovered it (because they couldn't be bothered to inform us of the problem) it had already been down for 6 days.
This is an important time of the year for Volunteer Romania as it is just about the busiest time for bookings onto the programme, so having the site down for so long was no joke.
A large number of irate e-mails later and an apparent lack of willingness by HostSo to treat the problem as an urgent one, we decided that we had to change our Host provider. Not quite as simple as it sounds because as our old Hosts' servers were constantly down we couldn't just copy the site over to a new Host and re-launch it, it had to be completely re-built, from scratch!
Now, I am no computer genius, and neither is my other half, but she had already built the first site and she set about doing it again. if you have ever tried this you will know that it requires a knowledge of 'coding' which to the uninitiated viewer looks like complete gobbledegook. It's coming along though, and we would love people to take a look and let us know what they think of the new site Volunteer Romania. We have now received a very generous offer of help from someone who is far more expert than we are, so Ali is busy putting all of the information that he needs together so that he can take over and allow us to get on with the rest of the jobs.
Then, to cap it all, on our first day in the garden, I fell over, stupidly. trouble is I fell right on to a pile of metal that we had moved, badly cut my hands and ended up with a cut on my leg and on my stomach. The cuts in my hands are so bad that I have been unable to wield any tools to get on with things, so I, just like Ali, am stuck back here on the laptop all day long, just doing whatever I can to help move things forward.
John, our friend and co-worker who lives with us has done a stirling job keeping everything going in the garden and cutting the grass that was just getting longer and longer and without his efforts we really would be in a mess right now.
We will perservere though. The information for the website will take a couple of days to complete and my hands are healing, so soon we really will be able to get on with things properly and achieve some of those goals that we have given ourselves for this year.
Keep an eye out, hopefully it will be interesting.

Steve

Monday, 18 March 2013

A TASTE OF OUR HOUSE, VILLAGE AND SURROUNDING AREA

The Castle overlooking our nearby city, Deva

This is the front of our house
This is the small house that 8 of you will sleep in bunk beds.
It has it's own wet room,with stand up shower as well as a small sitting room

These 2 pictures are of our guest bedroom, which has it's own
small en-suite bathroom



This is Hunedoara Castle, that you will be visiting

this is a typical daily view in our village, and this would constitute a traffic
jam where we live
This is the Casa de Cultura in Deva


This is our lounge with it's open fire, hopefully we won't need it. This is
overlooked from a galleried landing between the two upstairs bedrooms


This is our painted village church which sits high on the hill overlooking
the valley

Another typical sight in the village, this, or the odd escaped pig!

This is the second room that 5 of you will be sleeping in, as you can
see we still have to put the beds back after it's Spring clean

The en-suite bath that 5 of you will share