Once again we have been blessed by a wonderful conference in gorgeous surroundings with lovely people - even the weather was kind (although it rained ferociously immediately before and after!)
We had 27 young people, many of whom had been before, but about a third were new. Mostly they were 17 or 18, which is a perfect age for talking about “Dust and Dreams”, and they were very much engaged right from the word go. Their feedback was universally warm and positive.
We responded to last year’s feedback by making a later start in the mornings, and by having more discussion groups - both of these changes were very much appreciated and the balance of material and timetabling was deemed to be “perfect”!
It is clear from the feedback, and also from my discussions with Misu beforehand, that the issues we raised about the nature of being human in “Dust and Dreams”, are very relevant to Romanian young people.
There was also time for the young people to engage in some personal reflection, which many found helpful, and one of the key things that emerged was how many of our young friends have struggled with anxiety and depression - an increasing problem and not unique to Romania of course, although Romania has its own particular stresses : many young people are being brought up by grandparents as one or both parents work abroad throughout their entire childhood, and they feel bereaved.
We need to think carefully about how we can respond to this, as we are not a counselling organisation. One of the older guys, who’s been through some dark times himself, has said he hopes that he and others could help some of the younger ones - many don’t have anyone with whom they can talk about these things, and Brodina is a place where people feel relaxed and open.
It was good to see both Misu and Livia looking relaxed and well and excited about future possibilities. They have now decided to live full-time up at the mountain site, where most of their activity takes place, and it’s clear to see that the move suits them! They now just visit Radauti once a week or so, where Bogdan keeps the shop ticking over.
For many years the shop has been supported by a French charity called Partage, which is now being run by a new team. During the conference week, the Team visited us up in Brodina, and it was great fun to get to know these lovely people. They are hoping it may be possible to support Hannah’s shop with some second hand French furniture, which could be a game-changer, as the viability of the shop has been in the balance for some time.
As usual, Misu and Livia have had a busy Summer, with children’s camps running up to our Conference, another one straight afterwards, and then the Film Camp in mid September. After that, a well-earned rest!