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The Lion’s Roar, A Community and Compassion Initiative tells a sad story.

In 2005 Laura Simms, a US storyteller and activist,  faced with the tragic reality of caged starving animals in a Zoo from a small Romanian town, had a plan:

“within four years the zoo will be up to EU standards, the animals will be healthy and Buhusi itself will have a practical and self-sustaining plan for industry, cultural activities, tolerance and tourism.”

After a few months the project initiators learned first hand about “greed and a kind of pride that stood between change and comfort” of local people responsible for the zoo. Players and partners were reevaluated in 2006 only to be challenged again in January 2007 as Romania was entering the EU. The Buhusi Zoo did not meet the European standards at that time and was closed down.  The initial dreams had to be reduced to a main dream of finding new homes for the animals. Two years later the last of the initial 45 animals found a better place to live.

The Lion’s Roar shared the story of this project and stories about the animals with love and compassion. Bella’s story is just one of them, one that has a happy ending.

The four-year plan was successful. At least for most of the animals. It took the hard work and the dedication of passionate people to save the animals from a reality that was killing them.

The questions that I have now are: who has the plan, how many years and where we could find the passion to fight for the people in Buhusi (and other places in Romania) whose lives during Communism and after resembled, in so many ways,  the lives of caged creatures.

Laura Simms tells stories on “How to find Romania“. I don’t know if she adds anything from The Lion’s Roar experience to her grandmother’s stories but I am very interested to listen to the (human) stories that she collected during her work in Romania.


I often have problems when translating syntagmas related to community from English to Romanian.  My understanding of the complex work that needs to be done inside a community to support it and to allow its members to grow happened in an English speaking context.  This is how I came to naturally understand what “community building” means however I am still working to find a Romanian syntagma that would carry the same meaning (and not just merely be a lifeless word by word translation).

In the meanwhile,  I am happy to find that,  without giving it a meaningful name/title, people from different regions of Romania are doing community building work through dance and music!

For example people got together following the sad event of MJ’s death and put together  this dance.  It is the first time when such a response comes from an informal community from Romania in such an organized way.

Another community of more than one hundred children and youth from different backgrounds, schools and institutions was formed during five weeks of rehearsal for dancing the Stravinsky’s Firebird that was presented on the main scene of the Romanian National Theater early this month.  The participants with no previous dancing experience did not know that they were becoming a community and that through dance they were learning to trust themselves and each other. This has been the intention of  “Jungen Rumänen eine Chance!” charitable association and from what we can see in images and read on blogs it has been a real success for everybody involved in the project.

One winner of this community dancing project is eight years old Marian who had Firebird in his life after having a life in a cardboard box in Sibiu train station.

Last but not least I am happy to learn about an art and education project transformed by the Rahova community at the Community Center laBOMBA . As Maria Draghici puts it “they know how to express themselves in an artistic way, it’s just not in the way we have tried to teach them how to do it.”   Supporting the community’s voice is not an easy task (especially in such a challenged community) but the fact that, at the laBOMBA community center, common language was discovered is a huge step forward.

Congratulations to all that worked for and that took part in these projects! Hope that you all will have future projects where you will get to continue this kind of learning in and with communities!

“There is nothing more noble than the public service.” says president Obama during his stay in Strasbourg.

You can clearly see he does not know the public and more than this  the public is taken by surprise by his way of behaving and talking.  I am sorry Obama hesitated to name more public services the youth can consider. I think he was not sure about what would qualify as public service and what not in Europe so he stayed in the safe zone. Also,  it is not his job to tell European youth this… However, I would have loved to hear him say something like volunteer or work in public libraries 🙂  That would have required at least a couple of minutes of thinking for our politicians to try to understand what these words mean.  Anyway president Obama is the first politician (that I have found)  so far that has this kind of motivating discourses for youth in Europe.

Very interesting…

People working and studying in a small school in Sibiu, Romania decided to get ready for beginning a new school year by painting the schools’ building. The theory sais that the local administration was supposed to finance this work but the money sent to the school covered only the materials. So people who cared about the school from teachers to cleaning personnel, from pupils to auxiliary staff worked together to have a nice place for everybody.

This is a nice story but what is so special about it? Well, if you were a journalist from Romania and you would want to present this as a news you would definitely be amazed by the fact that teachers would get down on the job and prepared the classrooms for their pupils and all that before the beginning of the school year. The same “unheard of” attitude you would have when a pupil would tell you that he came to help because, in the end, he and his classmates are the ones using the space. Interesting enough the auxiliary staff’s work that was put to the same cause was not as important as the teacher’s so it was very briefly mentioned… The news in Romanian from is here

What I really like about this story is that finally people managed to think at their community first and then at the people trying to cheat them. (I know this might seem strange but it is actually very hard to do that in Romania nowadays. The way the journalist asked the questions is a clear sigh of this) The fact that the local administration (not a very poor one) could not pay for this type of work raises a serious question mark but between waiting for the mystery to be solved and getting the school ready the community decided on the right option.

Bravo for everybody working for their community from  “Emil Cioran” Middle School in Sibiu!

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