I think that the right to dignity is essential for everyone. We have to realize the fact that people in front of us are very similar to us. The roles could have been reversed and we could have been in their place. What would we have expected from our fellows?
I believe most of us feel the need for a genuine interaction with our fellows, and to help, to fulfill a need of a person close to us is a form of genuine interaction. A need exists, I try to understand it, I try to answer and help as much as I can. It seems ephemeral, but we create a bond that lasts. I think we become wealthier if we do this rather than living only for ourselves.
I have been working in NGOs for many years, I know the Romanian NGO sector, and I know what community development means. I was attracted by the people from PACT Foundation: they are authentic. It is not an opportunist organization that changes its mission depending on the funds that are on the market. It is a foundation that has a very clear mission and follows it no matter the doubts that are present in the Romanian NGO sector.
The PACT cause is the kind of cause that all of us should support, because Romania will not get far if 40% of its population will be left in an underdevelopment state with no opportunities. As long as rural communities from Romania are trapped in a chronical poverty, which can be overcome only by migration, we can’t talk about a healthy society.
Things do not get better by themselves. Sometimes we have to help ourselves, and the community development practiced by PACT is based on this philosophy. It is a long-range effort and the results will probably be visible immediately, but over many years.
A good word and an encouragement help a lot. From my experience, nobody else listens to the people from the rural communities, such as those PACT works with. The authorities don’t pay attention to them and people from urban areas treat them with condescension, even though most of them could have a life experience each of us could learn something from. I hope we can help them rediscover the community and the village, be conscious that they have things they can value and show them there’s no shame to be born in the countryside and wish to do something there.
I don’t want to see the Romanian villages being depopulated because people left in the closest town or became full-time workers in Italy and Spain. I want to value the rural enviorement, because these people have something valuable. It is enough to listen to what foreigns who visit the Romanian villages have to say – that we have a cultural and human patrimony which we can’t afford to lose.
When I see people from these communities and hear they have a new perspective after meeting PACT Foundation, it means that something in their lives has changed. The fact that they meet and discuss about things they can do for their community is very important. They are aware of their rights, they understand that they can change something in their environments. It creates a jump from the passive and fatal attitude to an optimistic mood. A positive energy is creating and people regain a sense of dignity and of the fact that they can and have to be the leaders of their own destiny. In my opinion, this thing is fundamental! Besides any materialistic help we can offer them, everything begins and finishes with this.
For me, a win also represents the fact that I meet people whom I could never meet in any other context. I think it’s a good contact with a social reality which I would have never had access any other way and it helps me put the things in perspective.
I met two ladies from Piatra Olt at a Donors’ Circle event, organized by PACT Foundation. The project they presented involved creating an afterschool for Roma children to reduce the dropout rate and to make even parents get closer to the school their children attend to. During the fundraising event, one of the ladies, with tears in her eyes, said that she wants for their children “to grow up and people to look at them and say: They are humans, not gypsies.” For me and for many people in the hall, the witness about what means to live with a social stereotype was as shocking as it was honest. It was an invitation to an exercise which is useful for everyone to make – to think what means to be born and to grow up in this kind of community, to be labeled negatively from birth and not to be recognized as a human being. If we got the chance not to meet these kinds of obstacles, we probably have a moral duty to help those who didn’t have this chance as much as we can. Or, at least, we should stop judging them.
As a donor, I want the funds to be used smart. I don’t necessary want an accounting report, to see how every coin was used, but the amplifying effect – to see the resources attract other resources and that secondary positive effects start to appear in that community: dialogue, optimism, solidarity, collective efforts and the rediscovering the idea of the better. It is a medium and long term investment. Money is important, but time and effort of those who are involved directly are more important.
Donations represent a trust vote for the organization and for the people from the communities. I think it is a unique chance: the fact that I can transmit my message to people who live hundreds of kilometers away: I trust you, I want you to trust yourselves and not to forget that together you can succeed in what you plan. If my modest support helps you even a little bit, then my joy is also your joy.