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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.

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Yesterday Madonna’s world tour  had a stop in Bucharest. 60,000 people were said to be present at her concert.  I like her music and I was curious to see how it was. Before the concert the journalist reported in great detail the preparation for this concert.

According to the news that surfaced the online media channels the night after the concert Madonna had “Romania at her feet” and it was a historical concert.  The organizational problems or fact that, unlike other artists that came to Bucharest, she did not say a word in Romanian were also mentioned.

In the concert a “gypsy moment” took place where Madonna sang  “La isla bonita” and Lela Pala Tute a song in Romani (The Madness Of Love).

Madonna added:

“Now, I’ve been paying attention to news reports and it’s been brought to my attention that there’s a lot of discrimination against Romanis and Gypsies in general in Eastern Europe. And I feel very sad, because I don’t believe in discrimination against anyone. We believe in freedom and equal rights for everyone. Gypsies, homosexuals, people who are different, everyone is equal and should be treated with respect, OK? Let’s not forget that!”

That evening  the moment was mentioned only tangentially in newspapers and the public’s reaction was noted by few (I found only one but I am not sure whether they also mentioned it in the printed version – I’ll have to check that). In the heart of Bucharest Madonna was booed when she asked people to respect the others.

Sky News found that this event deserves more than a line and published the “Madonna Booed Over ‘Sad’ Gypsy Abuse” article. The news spread on international media, Associated Press also mentioned it.  Then the Romanian online media started to talk about public’s reaction and how it was inappropriate. They questioned people’s reaction. From the readers’ comments I gather that the TV channels did not mention the “gypsy moment” at all. A number of hours after the news was out (half a day after the event took place) several discussions started online on this topic.

Romania seems surprised. The readers are asked:

Why do you think Madonna sent this message ?:

  • to teach Romanian a lesson about being tolerant
  • to build up her image
  • to make sure her concert will not be soon forget.

First the incident  is not important enough to be talked about in our media, until the international press underlines it. Then we start talking about it. (How we talk about it is another story!)

That is how the conversation about  tolerance takes place in  Romania. I feel like  Romanian leaders hope  we will become a truly democratic country  following the same pattern:  EU will notice our mistakes and will show them to us so that the people  can learn not to make them anymore.

In the “gypsy moment” with Madonna, the public could see (and be vocal about it) that foreigners  say Romanians are no tolerant but in the same time they don’t even know us.  People cannot understand why Madonna would touch or care about a wound that is not hers, a wound  that we don’t even know we have.

Similarly, people cannot understand most of the EU’s regulations and policies and why are those affecting their life. Why does Brussels think they  know us? We never talked with them, they never talked with us. EU will be booed in Romania as long as people will continue to see it as a group of foreigners telling them what to do…in a different language.

When will we learn to be tolerant with Romani people? Well, as you can see, we are in denial about this.

“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…

While this title is no news to anybody that knows a little bit about this library, something changed this week. A TV station in Romania aired a movie that showed, for the first time, how bad the reality is for this library. (The movie about this starts on minute 9).

Biblioteca nationala  a Romaniei

Many people got angry but the reactions were very few until… Monday evening when some young people ( I hope to  find out more about them) started an online  petition.  The  Ministry of Culture is asked in simple terms to make the needed effort to give the library its rightful home.  Since Monday 2,126 people sign it.  Signers wrote comments on  how much they want and need to have a national library, librarians from all over Romania showed their support, representatives from different publishing houses signed it too. Young students or parents claimed the need for preserving the collection of this institution…

It is the first time when a library in Romania gets support from its public. (So far no library association or commission took any stand after this movie) The whole movement is quite interesting and I am very curious to learn if the National library will know how to use this momentum.

In case you want to support this move watch the movie, sign the petition and join our group on Facebook  Romanian National Library: Looking for a home.

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