Sunday, 16 September 2007

Poverty and wealth

Apart from Sibiu itself most of what we saw of Romania was from the comfort of a very modern train. I'm always interested in rural landscapes. I grew up in a house with views overlooking miles of rich farmland in the heart of England. Cows or pigs from the neighbouring field would often break into our garden and as a young child I would wander around in a nightdress and wellington boots early in the morning trying to help herd them back to their field.
The countryside we were travelling through in Romania was varied; rich and fertile in parts but with alot of sheep farming on the higher poorer ground. For the most part the farming we saw seemed to be fairly labour intensive - lots of hand-piled hayricks which I have rather blurred photos of taken from the train. I noticed lots of small farmyards, even on the outskirts of towns and cities.
On an earlier long journey around Eastern Europe I remember helping to feed the pastor's pig which was kept in a shed in the back yard of a house in the centre of the city of Rovno in Ukraine. The pig would recycle food leftovers and then be slaughtered and feed the family through the winter. I wondered how many of the sheds I could see from the train also housed pigs to feed families through the coming winter. It's certainly a more ecological way than buying pre-packed slices of meat from the supermarket, not sure what my neighbours would say if I tried something similar in my pocket handkerchief garden though!
Alongside new and not so new cars there were also horse drawn carts, both in the centre of Sibiu and more so in the countryside; evidence of the large gap between rich and poor, haves and have-nots, society travelling at different speeds. Easy for me to notice and meditate this from the safety of my 5 star hotel or Geneva-based lifestyle. Easy too not to notice the equally large gap between rich and poor where I live.

1 Comment:

georgewalsh said...

The last leg of my journey to Sibiu was an extremely slow train from Medias. I had the opportunity to see the landscape that you've described here - in fact in my diary that day I mentioned that 'shiny new cars and battered old ones share the roads with horse-drawn carts'. The co-existence of rich / poor and old / new is very noticeable in Romania, and as you say, has re-opened my eyes to such problems in the UK.

I have enjoyed reading your witty, intelligent and honest posts during the Assembly - of life, liturgy and laughter. I feel with you and many others that we have shared this experience even though we have never met (if that makes sense outside my head!)