Friday, 1 February 2013


I have written a lot in previous Blogs about our aim to be as self-sufficient as we can in every aspect of our 'new' lives here in Romania.
It's been something I have been thinking even more about recently, as with Spring approaching we need to set about preparing the ground and planting our early crops.
We did so well last year, even if we were finally beaten in the end by the enormous amount of weeds we had, so we have been talking about how we might be able to manage our garden in a better way to achieve even more over 2013. Those plans are now firmly in place and with the warmer days we have coming over the next few weeks we will be implementing them, with full confidence that they will succeed, on the basis of the things we learned last year.
However, I have realised while I have been thinking about it, that 'self-sufficiency' goes so much further for us than just being able to grow our own crops, or do the work around the house ourselves, or chop our own wood.
The main reason we live here is so that we can continue our work with the children through Volunteer Romania, and attract as many people as we can, from all over the world, to come and help us with that work, and, as we like to say, 'create smiles'.
The fees we charge for our programme's with those kids are all calculated on an entirely non-profit basis. We charge exactly what it costs us to run the programme. We made the decision to do this last year to try and attract as many volunteers as we could, because it is so important to us that we keep the great work that volunteers do with the children going.
If there is any money ever left over from running our programme, we use it to fund other little events, such as the free two-week summer camp we held in our village last year.
It means that we live off of a very small pension, and that at times it can be very hard, but that is also a spur to greater self-sufficiency in many different ways.
This year we have even been burning scrap wood left over from building the extensions to the house instead of buying logs. The scrap wood has been lying around for years anyway, just going rotten, so it made sense, and it saved us money.
This year we will also be felling some self-seeded Acacia tress and some old Plum trees so that we have proper firewood, next year, or preferably the year after.
It also means that we don't have an advertising budget, so we rely on the kindness of the many many friends we have made on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc to help us to spread the word about what we do.
We also use Skype to speak to people internationally, simply because it is free, and find as many ways as we can to recycle, re-use, help ourselves rather than relying on others, etc. etc
It all helps to keep those costs down, and keep our fees amongst the lowest in the world for a fully supported programme such as ours, and hopefully as time goes on, that simple fact will attract more and more people to visit our beautiful adopted home of Romania.
We also use free websites where we can and here is the great feedback that one very special lady gave us on Volunteer Abroad following her visit to us last year. She is planning on returning as often as she is able and we are so looking forward to having her back with us. 
Even our website is entirely Do-It-Yourself. 
Ali had to learn from scratch how to write a website, and she has done a great job.
It may not be at the cutting edge of internet creativity, however, it is clear, it is simple, it is informative, and it works so well.
The work Ali does on the website and the things we do to promote Volunteer Romania using social media seem to be working too. This January the website has had over 1000 hits. 
A sneak preview of the 'new look' website
In the early months of 2012 we got between 15 and 20 hits a month. I can imagine that there may be an expert out there saying "Is that all?", but remember we have had no money to do this, or to advertise the site, it has been done simply through our own hard work and effort and with help from those friends we have found who support what we do.
At the moment Ali is entirely occupied with the task of completely re-designing the website, with a brighter, fresher much more appealing aesthetic. Hopefully that will be launched over the next few days, but she does find it hard having to use the 'free' software that is all that we have available, as at times it can be slow, and occasionally just lost everything Ali has done in a day through no fault of her own. It's all we have though, so she perseveres, and (most of the time) she just keeps smiling.
So keep an eye out for it, it will be published soon and we will shout it out loud and as far as we can when it is.
Those low low prices will remain the same though.
All we need to see is a few more of the people who have looked actually deciding to join us, it would be great and the more the merrier.
It would even be an enormous help just to
print this new poster out and display it
where you think it may get interest.
Please let us know if you do, we would
love to say thank you.
We are realists though and we understand that times are tough all over the world, and even those who would like to come may not be able to simply because they can't afford prices even when they are as low as ours.
We are small but we want to grow so that we are able to do more and more with the disadvantaged children we work with.
So if anyone reading this would like to help but can't actually come to Romania, how's about following on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and helping us to spread the word far and wide about what we do here, by sharing our messages about our mission, by re-tweeting, or just by chatting to us?
We would love to hear from you.

Volunteer Romania

And don't forget Holiday Romania if you would just like a cheap holiday or would like to come and discover this wonderful country for yourself.

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Hi, let me know what you think, it's always good to get feedback