In September 2009, KYC embarked on a mission. The mission was to spend ten days in Lunca Bradului, a small, immensely deprived and remote village in the Carparthian Mountains of Romania. The team consisted of 7 young people, two youth workers and two film makers.
The team had already demonstrated their ability to overcome adversity and the pain barrier by completing the River Wye 100 Mile Canoe/Kayak Challenge in May. The Challenge was completed in just over three days and the team, with Este Van De Walt’s sponsorship we raised more than £5,000 for the Raisin Romania project.
After a frantic couple of months planning the finer details for the Romanian excursion, the team found themselves in the mountains of Romania. The team went out to support the work of Integro Ministries and in particular the Bridge of Love project
After a morning of high japes on the high ropes which included a huge zipwire from one side of the valley, across a river and a road and ending on the other side, the team were ready for action.
Our first experience of Lunca Bradului however ended in a very volatile incident instigated by two locals, one who was the local Police officer. The team, many of whom would have dealt with it in a far more negative and aggressive manner in South London remained calm throughout. It was a significant point in our journey as a team. All of a sudden the entire trip was at risk. By the following morning the team were willing to return to the village and finish what they had started. This demonstrated such strength of character as individuals but also for the mission we had started together.
The team moved on quickly and got stuck into a range of projects. These included:
· Building an extension for a family home.
A local family (mum, dad, three teenage daughters, teenage son and a four year old boy) lived in a house with two bedrooms and a generic bathroom. The team built from scratch a new room which almost doubled the size of the house. The extension had to be built from second hand logs which all had to be cut and grooved to size with rudimentary tools and materials.
The family were very pleased with the extension.
· Erecting a garden fence.
The garden fence was erected to enable this family to grow crops without the produce being eaten by the local cows, chickens and horses which roam freely.
· Creating a huge mural.
Lunca Bradului can be a drab place to look at. The mural would bring some colour to the main road. The mural showed landmarks from London and Lunca respectively with the central piece portraying how we got to Lunca. A large number of local children got involved in the planning and painting of the mural and it has transformed that part of the village.
· Repairing a footbridge.
This was spontaneous project. The footbridge made life easier for a number of Lunca locals and it was falling apart. Some of the team spent some time strengthening and securing the bridge.
· Running a kids camp for a day.
The team stayed in a huge cabin with good outdoor space to run a number of activities and sports. For one day the team invited more than sixty local kids up to the cabin for a day of fun. This included face painting, football, basketball, team games, a BBQ and ended with a good old fashioned kids party style dance. Also all the children went home with useful goodies such as toothpaste, toothbrushes and other toiletries.
· Hanging out with the local kids each day
It was our intention to spend time each day bringing some joy to the local children. This involved random games of football surrounded by cows, learning useful and humorous phrases in Romanian and getting them involved in the projects.
At the end of our stay in Romania the team spent a couple of days hanging around Targu Mures, going to a spa for the day and enjoying sampling the local delicacies in a few local bars!
From the training for the 100 Mile Canoe Challenge through to completing the work in Lunca the team were immense.
My thanks go to Helen, Este, Gary, Denis, Marie, Manni, CJ, Petra and Symon. A special mention goes to Paul Burt and David Shepherd who gave up their time to film the project. Copies of the film (which is excellent) are available from KYC at £10 per DVD.
The next social action project is Raisin' D Republic. It will be bigger and bolder than before…
 For the record, we were the fastest kayak team.