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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






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