What we want to achieve:
Sustainable development in rural Romania.
We believe that the great opportunity of the Romanian village lays precisely in the capitalization of its specific traits and not on further industrialization. Unlike western Europe's countryside that has succumbed to industrialization a long time ago, much of the Romanian village is still at a crossroads of development. The tendency now seems to be economic growth with no scruples, large investments that do not take into consideration culture and environment and eventually accentuate economic disparities.
But we don't need to cut our forests, impoverish our biodiversity, poison our rivers and work only in factories to achieve wellbeing. We also don't need to all move to large cities; in fact, all signs point to the fact that our globe would't be able to sustain such trends, in the long term.
Of course, on the other hand we can't expect villagers to be content living like in the middle ages. Admittedly, there is an urgent need to improve the generally low standard of living in the Romanian countryside, by creating opportunity for income generating activities. We really believe in a slower, but sustainable way: ecotourism, healthy agriculture and small (but many) business initiatives based on local customs and resources.
That is, in a nutshell, our vision of development and what we want to encourage through all of our projects and programs.
Economically disadvantaged communities, often in isolated or mountainous regions, are highly vulnerable, facing depopulation and lack of perspective. Young people migrate in mass towards large cities or other EU countries in hope of a better life. A battalion of EU and Romanian government regulations make EU funds inaccessible to the regular untrained villager who owns just a couple of hectares of land. Yet subsistence agriculture is no longer enough to support the growing needs of individuals living in a globalized world.
At the same time, many city people, dependent on modern technologies, are eager to learn about self-sufficiency and somehow reintegrate nature into their existence. The excitement around natural products, slow food, downshifting or urban gardens are some examples.
In this context, the opportunity emerges for triggering a social and economic revitalization of the rural communities. But sustainable development, that takes into account cultural heritage, environment, as well as social and economic development, can only be stimulated through education. Most people in rural Romania lack access to the kind of information and knowledge that would prompt them in a different direction. Also, they are worlds apart from the mostly urban new tendencies for healthy living that they could capitalize on.
Our Tools and objectives:
Our community-based program contributes to filling the gap between what the villager can offer and what the city person needs
Throughout our projects, we want to informally educate and point out opportunities, by facilitating exposure of our rural beneficiaries to good practice examples and creating connections with sources of know-how
We stimulate community involvement and participation in decision making processes; we believe that, even if top-down approaches have their role, bottom-up approaches to problem-solving work better in the long term
We educate for environmental awareness and in general, sustainable rural development in all its dimensions (including education on topics like sustainable farming, green architecture or traditional landscape preservation; education for rural parents and children, etc).