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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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Our Uruguayan friends came to study in US, were our neighbors for four years and recently returned to their country. They   saw this movie and insisted that I should see it too.  It is a video with  Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s presentation at TED.

She is sharing her stories but manages, as good tellers do,  to tell the stories of many people. Among them, she is telling of  the lessons learned while being an international student in US, where “international” is mostly developing countries and where “learning” is not limited to what is thought in classes.

I’ve been living for some years now in the international community of Orchard Downs in Champaign-Urbana campus in US and her stories resonated so much with me. It is true that we, as outsiders, are often expected to fit the  given stereotype but is nonetheless true that we bring here our own single story version of the others. In time though, we get to share and live new stories together and the one story becomes many stories and many friends. As a proof for this I have my dear friends, who are getting ready for summer in Montevideo but long for the colorful fall of Illinois, that think of their Romanian friend when they hear Chimamanda Adichie speak.

There is  something else that, I suspect will get sooner or later into  Adichie’s work (if is not there already). Once you know multiple stories and connect in a meaningful way with the other … you cannot accept one story versions anymore. The hard part though is that people around you will continue to be happy with what they know: the single true story.

Dr. Melba Pattillo Beals, one of the Little Rock nine shared stories from her terrible  adolescence. She gracefully talked about how libraries helped her understand that there was another world outside the cage she was put in by the society.


Melba like young warriors are still around us. They are looking for help and this is one reason why  libraries are still needed.

Once upon a time, the story goes, that a red dragon was taken down in the land of Europe. In the same time a child was born…20 years later we are invited to celebrate.

During the celebration though, somebody from Poland raise the hand [and typed a question on EUTube channel] asking:
“Where is Lech Walesa?”
Well, this is “a story of child born in Berlin” was the answer. “Actually its about the child that was born on November 9th 1989. [If you cared to see the entire video clip.]”
Somebody else asked:
“And why was the child born on November 9th 1989 instead of June 4th 1989?”

At this moment in time, the host, EUTube, commented that the celebration is just what it is: a 20th Anniversary of democratic change in Central and Eastern Europe and is “about the child being born at the moment the Berlin Wall was brought down.”
[pause]
And…”Where is Walesa, Solidarity, 4th june elections? ”
[pause]
There was some time for thinking, changing statements and after two weeks we are invited to a new celebration. The Polish typing now on EUTube about SOLIDARNOŚĆ are also invited…

What a party!
We thank the host.

We leave wondering if the somebody that asked politely “excuse me, where is Bulgaria???”  during the first 20th celebration  will also be invited in a near future for a special party like this. After all, the red dragon had many heads and many warriors fought him.

If you listen carefully, in nights when the wind blows from the East, you can still hear stories about the old dragon. Some say he still has some heads left, some say it’s only his ghost but many talk about him wandering in the land of Europe.

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