Sometimes you must take time and sometimes that means that you should seek new experiences. Humans have always attempted to manipulate time and dreamed of time machines – to get more time out of their finite lives. Unfortunately, we do not (yet?) possess such powers, but there is trickery which involves our own minds. Just go back and think about your days as a kid, did they not seem much longer? I surely remember that I had long days filled with many adventures in my childhood. Then, somehow, the days speed up, they go by quicker. This is the phenomenon of new and old experiences. If all we get are the same experience, our perception of time speeds up, if we gain a new experience, it slows down. So, strangely enough – we can bend time, at least our perception of it. Once we wake up from the dream that is new experiences we are living – we must return to reality, much like the old folks’ stories the grandparents tell their grandchildren. When the clock hits midnight, you must return to who you were before. But we are still in the dream, our time is still slow.

This beep again. It seems that the tiring days are starting to get to us. Observation – I am not alone, but I know that I am the one who must keep the spirits high. There always must be someone who brings the energy when it is lacking. This makes the people wonder – why do you have it? I do not… but I do as I had it, and it comes to me. This is one lesson the youth should learn; everything begins from within. Every day there’s practice. Do we always want to do it? No. Do we have to? Yes. Do we always have energy for it? No. Can we push ourselves to find it? Yes. So, we move out, we step on the basketball field, in the garden of “Székelykapu Panzio”. Local players join us in our daily meeting with our favorite activity – the one that brings us all together – playing basketball. We start with some light fitness warm-up and stretching. Nobody can stay asleep while doing jumping jacks, mountain climbers and burpees. Blood is pumping and even the sleepiest ones are wide awake. We proceed to work on the skills we have been developing all week long.

Breakfast, free time to play some ball (generally or 1on1 tournament) and prepare for the horse carriage ride. Today we are going to ride around local fields, up on the hills. Just right after lunch three horse carriages await us just outside the “Székelykapu Panzio” to take us up the hill. This is some action of about two hours but seems much longer. Our ride through the village attracts curious locals who want to see where all this noise is coming from. Smiles and waving hands somehow bring joy to every one of us. In a short time we find ourselves surrounded by fields and woods. The sun is shining bright and we feel the rays of the sun heating up our skin. The trees in the distance seem very welcoming, their shade provides a refreshing refuge from the bright sun. I can vividly imagine taking a good book and seeking solitude on a hot summer day in the shadows of the trees.

We keep moving on the pre-determined path through the fields. At one point we encounter a local shepherd with his loyal guard dog and bunch of sheep and goats. This is an older gentleman and it seems he is also an experienced one. He is walking with a stick in each hand, one could only assume – this is the result of the substantial days of work he has put behind him over the years. The Sheepdog looks at us full of suspicion. To him we are only a disruption of his daily discipline – keeping the herd safe of wolves and bears. This is his mission; this is what he has been taught to do – to keep the herd safe. It would not even matter that we are nothing like a wolf or a bear, if we come near the herd – we become a threat thus his target. This is something no one of us is willing to try out. So, we remain seated on our carriages and keep moving. At some point we must lower the electrical fence and change the direction to the hill. I am sitting in the last carriage of three, so our coachman must close the fence after us. This required him getting off the carriage, closing the fence and getting back on. Well, but it seems he wants to save some time by keeping the carriage moving. At first he just wanted to put the reins on the bench we were sitting on, but then he glanced at me, sitting right next to him and decided it could be a good and safe idea to give the reins to a stranger. Well, from a city as far as he should be concerned. I did grow up in the countryside, but never had anything to do with horses. Long story short – I’ve got the reins in my hands, the man jumped off the carriage to close the fence and the horses kept moving. Of course, at the same time the two carriages right before us stopped moving as their respective coachmen figured out – hey, let’s stop as the man from our carriage must close the fence. Therefore – two carriages standing and our kept moving out. Once the fence was closed, our coachman turned around and understood his mistake – reins were in the hands of somebody who had absolutely no idea how to handle the situation. Luckily for us, the Coach reassessed the situation and realized that there was only one valid option – to stop the carriage. The other two almost crashed in the carriage before us and the second one would have rolled down in the ditch on our left. This is where all the experience I was able to gather from films I have previously watched comes in handy. I did proceed to pull both reins simultaneously to bring us to a halt. Hearing “ooh”, “uuh” and “aah”s which ended in happy cheering – it seemed that I have had done a decent job. The coachman was also happy, jumped on the carriage and we continued our journey up the hill.

Fifteen minutes later we reached the top of the hill and made a short stop to enjoy the view. On our left we could see Bögöz and on our right, a bit further away – Székelyudvarhely. The shepherd we met at the bottom of the hill had also made his way up, he took the shorter route – perks of moving on foot. After taking time to take some nice photos and absorb the beauty of the area and its nature, it was time to continue the ride and get back to the village. The journey down the hill was faster and shorter than upwards, it seems that we took the longest route to get up and coachmen saved the shorter one to get back down.

The evening practice was cut short due to a storm which seemingly just appeared out of thin air. One downside of living in between mountains – you never see the storms coming, the clouds just get over the top of the hills and within a few hours you find yourself surrounded by rain and thunder which roars after the lighting strikes. There is one upside though – it is easier to breathe as the hot air fades away for the night. We sleep tight.

One would say that this day was not as busy as all others, not as full. We should observe how we look at things, just as we see a room full of stuff, it is empty of space. Also, a day which is not full of action is full of time. Time we can use however we want and that is part of the game – having fun, slowing down, enjoying the ride. As Nadine put it – just as our bodies need to take a rest day from all the activities, our minds also need rest days. I think she is quite right on this one. Especially when we are afraid of missing out and not delivering – take a rest day, slow down, enjoy the ride. Sometimes even nature takes care of that and sends a storm to save us from ourselves.

Life gets boring if you stay within limits of what you already know. Many great people have pointed out that we should try and do new things every day – always keep learning something new, something that we did not know the day before. Additionally, we should not be afraid to emerge fully in new experiences – without overthinking! Sometimes people tend to overthink – how will I look? Will others find it funny and laugh? What if I fail? It must be too hard for me to do… This inner voice that makes us doubt ourselves before we have even taken the chance to try out that new, exciting experience. Another personal favorite of mine – What if I don’t do it right? But… you will, just as Astrid Lindgren put it nicely in character of Pippi Longstocking:

“I have never tried that before, so I think I should definitely be able to do that.”

This is the way – believing from the beginning that we can achieve what we set our minds to, we can achieve greatness. Otherwise, what’s the point? And even if it turns out not to be our thing, at least we tried our best and made some nice memories along the way. This is the story of day four in Bögöz. Day of new experiences and giving our best.

There is something fascinating about starting your day with a quality practice. It is almost as good as cold showers and the smell of a fresh brewed coffee. Surely no one can stay sleepy while moving around, maybe still a little bit tired from yesterday, but certainly not sleepy. Morning practices include the four-station concept – every morning we organize the same four stations (ball handling, shooting, footwork, 1on1) and since day one we work to develop skills of the players and increase the complexity of the drills. This allows us to show and teach the proper structure and what it takes to develop skills over time.

After the practice we had to eat a quick breakfast, shower and rush to the local culture center. We had an appointment with a dance teacher who showed us the folks dance of the Székelys (Szeklers). As it usually is –the youth had some doubts about how they could and would handle this new experience. This is also an important part of new experiences as we learn to share our inner doubts and try to find solutions for them as a group together. This strengthens the bound between the individuals and brings us closer as a group. Dancing is also intimate experience as we must step over our personal boundaries and let other people or singular person closer to ourselves. It really breaks down the walls we set up around ourselves and takes down the shields we hold in our hands, suddenly we see each other in a different light. We all have our own doubts, but that’s just it – our imaginary obstacles and nothing more. By letting others closer to ourselves and working together, we can defeat these doubts and march stately towards the challenges the life throws at us.

The dance itself was a pleasant experience with one exception – all the sweating. It was a really hot day and despite the door and all the windows being open – the air was still. Teacher was the very energetic kind and had the aura – please stay disciplined or… We had a lot of fun learning the steps, of course we also made many mistakes, but within about an hour we did go through multiple dance variations, and I would say – did well. At some point our teacher started to dance between us to show us how it is supposed to look like and one could only conclude that she taught us very, very basic steps. One other thing I enjoyed was that the people walking by randomly stopped to watch us.

We as coaches could also see parallels between the dancing and our footwork drills. It seemed that every one of us wanted to add dancing as an extra activity to develop better footwork and coordination of our players. This is a thought that we should keep in mind for sure.

Next on agenda is lunch and after that games outside. Not basketball games though, diverse teambuilding games. The Youth, both from Hellenen and Bögöz, got split into two teams – black and red, and had to compete against each other in different team games. We played a sporty version of musical chairs, tic-tac-toe, getting a cookie in one’s mouth, picking up objects with eyes tied (and team helping just with a voice guidance) and for culmination a fun game with water which was not only exciting to play for the win (as the teams were tied), but also refreshing when water got spilled on you. At the end black team won thus celebrated as winners! Their reward was ice cream to satisfy the winners in the hot day.

We were really happy about the fact that Hellenen and Bögöz started to communicate with each other more, because it was not happening beforehand while doing scavenger hunt two days prior. This would mean we were succeeding in building the teams together and getting the youth to work together instead staying separate in two groups. It is always nice to see people grow closer, sometimes it takes more time, but maybe it is just like the saying: true friendships are like a sea – it heats up slowly and cools down slowly. Maybe this is just the case.

Evening practice started with twenty minutes of a discipline drill. The goal was to show and learn that the small things matter. If we can’t do the small things right, how are we supposed to do more complicated things right? It is important to understand the concept of small numbers: first, we must learn to handle in small numbers, otherwise we can’t handle in large numbers. In basketball we can’t skip steps. So, on we went to perform one of my favorite drills – one must make a step forward and go on to run to other side, one can’t make a step backward. This went very well! It took some time, but we got together as a team and could perform the drill six times. To be honest, we expected the players to object and lose focus before successfully completing the drill, but everybody did their best to succeed and well… they did!

Right after we went on with the training schedule. Because it was Coach Levi’s birthday – his wish was to play with other coaches against the youth team – Hellenen as well as Bögöz. We went out as five coaches against about twenty youth players. Even with tactical odds against us, we performed very well and could win with a good difference. A gift for Levi on his “21st“ birthday – this is also an insider. For the celebration we got him a cake! Unfortunately, the only available candles were 21 and we had to make it work, everybody knows that candles are a must! Another nice evening in Bögöz.

Here we go, days fly by, and we find ourselves already in the middle of our adventure. We have made progress on the court, in our minds and our hearts. All it takes is to take the step forward and dive in the unknown, new experiences. All it takes is a small doze of craziness, love and courage. This opens the whole world of opportunity and well allows us to makes friends along the way. In the heart of Romania, Bögöz.

Written by Valts Rozentāls

“We who are profoundly joined in soul can only but heal the ruptures of the cosmos.”
Peter Høeg from ‘Elephant Keepers’ Children’

Sometimes we are so excessively spellbound in our own reality that it takes a special kind of shift in our surroundings to make us think about seemingly daily occurrences in a different kind of light. They say the devil is in the details – I do not know about the devil, but our thinking patterns and perception of the world definitely are. It has been an interesting experience to observe how our youth takes on the daily challenges in Bögöz and the seemingly mundane, simple things of everyday life. The outcome is different opinions, change of perspective and stimulation of thinking about how they perceive different kinds of cultures, people and themselves in different environments. Growth.

If there is one certain thing in our daily lives in Bögöz then it is the beep of the alarm clock every morning. Well, for the Coaches anyways, the youth always get nice and polite “Rise and shine!” to start their day. Today it was thirty minutes earlier. We got to get to the neighbouring town for the game day. There are two games planned – one for the boys team and one for the girls. Our Teams are built off of a mix of Hellenen and Bögöz youth and we are playing against a local team called ‘Vendor’. We start off with the boys and the game is balanced from the start on till the third quarter where “Hellgöz” start to make costly mistakes in defence and allow the opposing home team to score easy points on fast breaks as a result of many turnovers. On the other end we can’t find the right offensive tactic which results in many crazy individual plays and shots which are out of position. This leads to the loss for Hellgöz with around -30 points and many lessons learned. For the boys that means going a step back to drawing tactics on the board.

The game of the girls’ Team went differently – they started very well and it was obvious that the “Hellgöz” girls team was superior to the Vendor girls and it also resulted in a strong win. Nevertheless there were teaching points and much needed game experience for the Bögöz girls. Altogether it was a successful game day to practice basics of basketball and reach over the knowledge.

After hard work it was time for some fun, so we went to an open public swimming pool together. Although today the weather was not as hot as the previous days, the water did feel very refreshing and even allowed us to play some pass and catch in the water – very simple and fun making it easy for everybody to engage. Activities in the water always result in hunger which we satisfied with some Lángos – a traditional Hungarian dish of fried bread and the classic topping of crème fraîche (mixed with garlic) and grated cheese. I, myself, did not participate in the next part, so this will be written as a story of others.

The train passes by two or three times a day as it makes its way between two bigger cities. There is a high possibility that another time schedule is not even possible as there is only one railroad – which makes it impossible for two trains to pass each other in opposing directions. Speed is also very slow for the simple reason that the railway has many curves and crossings without any safety measures. It could well be that if the train had to stop very quickly in a short period of time while going at high speed it would not be able to slow down in time and would lead to casualties.

The first impression is the train station – just some concrete plates and for most stops not even a shelter to hide from the weather. Also – everything is built on the ground level but the train is much higher – so for older people it is hard to get on the train and for people with some kind of disability it’s almost impossible to get on the train. It was packed – not everyone could get a seat and the first thing one would notice was the strong smell of sweat. For those who are used to controleurs in uniforms and undying following of the rules – the picture here was somehow different. No uniform in sight, shirt with some upper buttons open (easy to understand with the hot weather) and a nice golden chain around the neck. Somehow he did not even want to have anything for the ride and just let the whole group ride for free for the three stations.

As short as the train ride was from a distance, as already mentioned, it was also equally slow. This would allow a few observations to be made and brought up in discussions. One of them would be the family who seemingly felt very comfortable – almost too comfortable – on the train – they had their belongings all over the place. One kid was resting on the floor next to a watermelon (or even eating it?), a baby on the seat without much attention and from the observer point of view – a little bit too dangerous if the train had come to a full stop – we could assume that baby would be found at least one row further down the train.

Some man wanted to inquire where we were from, but unfortunately he may have had one beer too many nevertheless he was successful in asking the question, yet he was unable to comprehend the answer. It did not seem to bother him that much as he had just finished his current can and simply opened another one. Then he proceeded to tell a story of his love life and even give some tips to boys on how to be gentlemen and that they should offer their seats to the girls. Well, thank you sir.

In the evening – another practice. This time we splitted the groups as we had to work on focus and discipline of the kids of Bögöz. Everytime one works with a team where the focus and discipline is not present, one asks the question – why are we even here? The philosophy is very simple – things that are easy to do are also easy not to do. The challenge here is to get the individuals to focus and be disciplined enough so that the team of 12+ can function properly. The ‘why’ is another question though. ‘Why’ is an internal question, which can only be answered by each individual themselves. If the ‘why’ – the motivation and the drive – is clear, then the focus and discipline are the easy part, it comes naturally without pressure. This brings us back to the start as this is our individual journey, but most of the time it’s something we bring back into the world for all to see. With our work and every person we meet in our lives we touch a string that will vibrate forever. This is the divine conversation we have with ourselves when we are alone. Why do we do this? And if we cannot answer this question for ourselves, we cannot move others to answer it for themselves. Sandy put it nicely – most of the time we have to search within us, what is the damage that has been done to us? More often than not, this is the sole reason that keeps us going forward. The reason we want to make the world better and repair the damage done to others as we understand it ourselves.

With some luck and time, we all are able to find our inner ‘why’ and that would give us the hope that we can bring it into the world with our creative work and others would be able to learn and also have the inner conversations with themselves which would bring the focus and discipline to learn and develop themselves for happier and more fulfilling lives. As Jocko Willink put it – discipline equals freedom, but we can only find discipline if we are brave enough to search in ourselves and find the answer to our ‘why’.

P.S. Do you want a cookie?

Written by Valts Rozentāls

Some rain snuck in overnight to offer us some fresh air to recover from all the heat of yesterday. While this brought some heavy sleep at night to rest our bodies – this would also mean that with the sunrise the extra water around would make the air heavy again. This was just the case as we found ourselves on the outdoor court of “Székelykapu Panzio”, our lovely host pension. Start at 800 sharp, both Teams on time and ready for a warm-up. Four station training – ball handling, footwork, shooting, 1on1. Perfect way to start a day, even if the rain cut our practice some ten minutes short. Short period of rain in a very hot weather – another lesson to be learned about being happy about the short relief, as it bites you thirty minutes later as the sun and heat makes their return.

Some time went by till we got to breakfast as for the first time the participants had to take part in preparing the food. As most of the first times, we had to accommodate the learning curve – also for dinner. At the end work went smooth enough and we could get a nice and well deserved meal.

After that some free time was in order. Some went to explore the village with all their inhabitants and their daily lives, some played some extra ball games on the court, and some were just chilling and enjoying the short period of extra rest. Miriam and I had to visit a very nice bakery in neighboring city Udvarhély called “Alexandria”. We were also on luck as just before we had to make our order – some lady walked in, and on our attempt to ask if they spoke English, she told us she can translate the German. Very helpful and made our purchase much easier. What did we buy? More on this below.

Around seventeen hundred it was time team up with the local youth, by mixing them and our youth in four teams, to explore the village of Bögöz with their 1’700 inhabitants (around 98% of population are Hungarians). The goal was the teambuilding, as the teams received 32 pictures to be found and had to communicate almost without any knowledge of the specific languages to find them. Of course, this was mostly based on youth of Bögöz as they had to lead the way to find the objects. As we later went into feedback round there were many challenges the teams had to overcome and many curiosities along the way. This way the local youth could show some parts of their village to the guests and our youth had a chance to take a glance how is the infrastructure (Bus and train stops, roads of different kinds, buildings etc.) around here and also – the local people. Altogether very nice and satisfying experience, culture shock guaranteed.

Right after returning to our base in “Székelykapu Panzio” – we had to prepare ourselves for an evening training. Topics were some easy footwork and cutting techniques, passing and fast breaks. This is also where the part of our visit to “Alexandria” comes in – a girl from Bögöz with soubriquet Orsi was having a birthday today and turning 15 years old! A time to celebrate, even if we could tell she came somehow shy on this kind of celebration, for a brief moment – all the attention turned to her. Anyhow, I and Miriam did get two very nice and tasty cakes from “Alexandria” earlier today (even with a Name written on one of them!) and after singing “Happy birthday dear Orsi” to her, we celebrated a little by eating a slice of chocolate cake after the practice. Practice, birthday and a chocolate cake… Isn’t the life beautiful?

After that it was time to say our goodbyes for today and go to dinner. Then the feedback round to reflect on all the amazing events today and determine some organizational points for tomorrow and up in beds we went to get well deserved rest and recover our strength for tomorrow as it will be also very promising day full of events. Dusk seemed to cool down the air to let us sleep at night, and as the darkness set in for stars to be seen – the grasshoppers went on stage to lull us into sleep.

Written by Valts Rozentāls

Dear Diary,

This was a good day. As it usually is, when one finds oneself on the verge of new adventures and experiences. Romania – this is our adventure this week, for seven days we will be exploring part of the country through the prism of basketball – a prism that, as Miriam nicely put it, requires no words. For some of us this is not the first time coming to Bögöz, they have seen many sides of this part of the world – this won’t be their story. Story you will emerge into will be written by somebody who visits this place for the first time. This is a prism of  first time experience.

Our journey starts on a rainy summer Sunday at 8.00 in Munich International Airport. Meeting point is on the first floor of Terminal 2, in the hall just before security control. The first members of this journey are already present and as one would assume – it is always good to plan some extra time on journeys aside from the flight itself. Especially if the travel includes a group of 15 young adults out of a total of 17. Once everybody arrives, it’s time to say our goodbyes for the next seven days and move on to go through security control, border control and boarding procedures to get to our Lufthansa flight with the number 1664 from Munich to Sibiu. As it later turns out, as much as it was rainy in Munich – it would be as sunny and stale in Romania. For us – complete difference and change of pace, just as the country itself. We board our CRJ series jet precisely at 11.00 and take off shortly after. A little over one and a half hours later we find ourselves in another world.

I am not really sure what hit us first – the heat wave or the size of the Airport. To be honest, relatively good for a city with a population just over 155’000. Nevertheless, one piece building with two paths – arrival and departure – seems a bit small if you just left the monstrosity of what Munich International Airport is. Of course, this might just be a part of their job training, but the first contact shapes one’s vision of the country and it was a welcoming one. The airport itself might be an older one and not as modern as seen around, but people were nice and that is what counts. After a short stop at “whiskey charlie” we moved on to find our drivers – they would bring us to Bögöz.

As we had to make a couple of stops in between, we spent about three hours on the road. Putting hot weather aside – roads are smaller than we are used to in Germany and also in a worse condition, but they are mostly being repaired by making cut outs locally and filling the damaged parts with fresh asphalt. At one point the repairs were not finished and left open – this of course leads to slower traveling times as the chauffeur always has to be aware not to hit one of them. Other than that – a pretty solid drive with very beautiful landscape. There were some occurrences where we had to stop as somebody from the group got sick from all those ups and downs and on the side of the road the local man showed his readiness to help by giving us ice cold (literally – it still had ice block in it) water bottle. Very strong gesture. Moving on.

Interesting observations are the houses. Villages all seem to be very similar with houses being built at the street and then stretching away from it in a rectangular manner. Beside the house would almost always be some kind of gate for car access and the front fence would be quite large – so you can’t properly see over them and tell what’s inside. Usually it would be another building and/or a piece of land with a garden on it. Houses are also very colorful – many different colors could be observed throughout our journey. Another rather peculiar thing – the aesthetic and constructional states would vary greatly from house to house. There could be a new, modern house built in between some worn off houses, where one would question it – whether anybody can live in something like that and if it is even safe? Really, there would be one seemingly expensive house and right after it three in a very poor condition. Then again another expensive one. This particular observation could be made again and again as we kept driving through various villages and cities. Did not matter how small or big the city was – this phenomenon could be observed throughout.

Another interesting mention is the geopolitical situation. We find ourselves in a municipality that used to be part of Hungary, but after the second world war was separated and added to Romania. To this day inhabitants here speak Hungarian and children are learning Romanian as a foreign language in the school. At this time there are more insights to be made in the upcoming days to look at this particular case of people with one identity living in a country with completely another identity. Just something to keep in mind as a reader.

Not to make this too long – I have to make a stop here. Altogether very beautiful country from what we have seen so far. Many more things have yet to be seen, lessons learned and friends made. In Romania, Mugeni or how Hungarians call it – Bögöz.

Die junge Frau hat Glück gehabt. Am Freitag hatte sie an die Tür geklopft, mit nichts als zwei Plastiktüten in der Hand und dem kleinen Kind auf dem Arm, vertrieben vom Vater des Kindes. Sie brauchte einen Platz zum Schlafen, einen Rückzugsort für sich und den kleinen Sohn, ein Jahr alt, zahnloses Lachen, hellbrauner Flaum auf dem Kopf. Familie oder Verwandte, die die 19-Jährige mit den dunklen Haaren, den schmalen Schultern und der ausgeblichenen Kleidung hätten aufnehmen können, gab es nicht, schließlich war sie auch früher schon eine Vertriebene gewesen. Seit dem zwölften Lebensjahr, seit ihre Mutter sie in einem Heim sitzen gelassen und sich aus dem Staub gemacht hatte. Diesmal hat sie Glück gehabt. Das kleine Eltern-Kind-Zimmer im Kloster der Mallersdorfer Schwestern in Szekelyudvarhely war nicht belegt gewesen. Sie durfte bleiben, vorerst.

Alles andere als grau: Schwester Michaela in der Klosterküche.

Die hellen Augen von Schwester Michaela verdunkeln sich, als sie die Geschichte der jungen Frau erzählt, die jetzt in dem luftigen Innenhof des Ordenshauses ihrem Kind mit energischen Zügen die Schokolade vom Mund wischt. Neben ihr hampeln zwei blonde Mädchen auf einer Wippe, Geschwister, ein paar Meter weiter bauen drei Jungs in Bayern-München-Trikots der letzten Saison ein großes, neues Trampolin auf. Sie alle sind Waisen. Ihre Eltern haben sie verlassen, meist bei der Geburt, manchmal auch erst Jahre später. Wie die junge Mutter haben sie bei Schwester Michaela und den anderen Nonnen nicht nur Zuflucht gefunden, ein Bett, eine Dusche und regelmäßiges Essen, sondern auch Zuspruch, Respekt und menschliche Wärme.

„Wir können nicht immer helfen“, erklärt Schwester Michaela schulterzuckend und deutet auf die junge Mutter. Die Nonne, eine kleine rundliche Frau in grauer Schwesterntracht, die dunkelgrauen Haare unter der dunklen Haube gebändigt, die Furchen in dem weichen Gesicht noch nicht allzu tief, kennt viele, fast unzählige dieser Lebenswege.

Mütter, die beinahe selbst noch Kinder sind, die von Eltern oder Männern geschlagen, vertrieben und verlassen werden – und die später nicht selten dieselben Entscheidungen treffen und ihre eigenen Kinder im Stich lassen.

Dennoch sei es heute einfacher, Zufluchtsorte für die Verlassenen und Vertriebenen zu finden. „Es gibt mehr Initiativen, die sich um die Frauen und Kinder kümmern. Wir sind mittlerweile gut vernetzt. Können wir jemanden nicht unterbringen, können wir ihn vielleicht weitervermitteln.“ Nicht zu vergleichen mit der Lage 1991, als der eiserne Vorhang fiel und Michaela nach Rumänien kam.

Damals hätten jeden Tag Dutzende Kinder vor den Türen der Kirche gestanden und gebettelt, erzählt die Ordensschwester mit ruhiger Stimme. Roma. Es rollt leise, wenn Michaela Roma sagt. Noch immer macht sich der oberbayrische Dialekt ihrer Heimat Deggendorf bemerkbar, obwohl Michaela seit 24 Jahren im Szeklerland lebt, dem Landstrich Rumäniens, der von der ungarischen Minderheit des Landes bewohnt wird. Mit 42 hat sie das bayerische Deggendorf verlassen, um das Ordenshaus der Mallersdorfer Schwestern aufzubauen, einer Ordensgemeinschaft der Franziskanerinnen, nachdem das Ende des Kommunismus die Wiederbelebung der katholischen Kirche bedeutete, deren Aktivitäten zuvor durch den Staat stark eingeschränkt worden waren. 1864 ließen sich die Mallersdorfer Schwestern erstmals im rumänischen Hermannstadt nieder, mittlerweile ist der Orden an fünf Orten aktiv, betreibt Kindergärten, Altersheime, Schulen. In Szekelyudvarhely haben die Schwestern damals einen Kindergarten für Angehörige der Roma gegründet, um die Kinder von der Straße zu holen.

„Anfangs hat sich kaum etwas verändert“, erinnert sich die heute 66-Jährige, „alles war wie gelähmt“. Die Menschen hätten einander kaum mehr vertraut, Gleichheitszwang und Ceaușescu-Diktatur hatten ihre Spuren nicht nur auf den Straßen, sondern auch in den Köpfen des Landes hinterlassen. Erst in den letzten Jahren zeigten sich die Fortschritte. Neue Häuser würden entstehen, alte renoviert und restauriert, es gäbe mehr Geschäfte, sogar Touristen. „Es gibt Verbesserungen“, merkt Schwester Michaela an, „aber vieles ändert sich nur sehr langsam“. Noch immer gibt es Roma-Kinder, die betteln. Noch immer gibt es Kinder, die im Kindergarten erst einmal gefüttert, gewaschen und entlaust werden müssten. Einhundert sind es heute insgesamt, die in vier Gruppen betreut werden. Dazu kommen praktische Förderangebote und eine Schule für die, die dem Kindergartenalter entwachsen. Hier sollen die Kinder Selbstvertrauen entwickeln, Lernfreude und Neugierde, Werte, die ihnen zu Hause nicht vermittelt werden. „Viele Eltern sind Analphabeten, waren selbst noch nie in der Schule. Ihnen bedeutet der Schulbesuch der Kinder nichts.“

Sie hat Zuflucht bei den Mallersdorfer Schwestern gefunden: die 19-jährige Mutter, fast selbst noch ein Kind.

Immer wieder würden Kinder nicht erscheinen, weil die Eltern wenig Sinn in der Schulbildung sähen. „Wir sehen aber auch immer wieder Eltern, denen es sehr wichtig ist, dass ihre Kinder mehr lernen als sie selbst. Sie sollen lesen, schreiben und rechnen lernen – alles das, was sie nicht können.“

Waren es früher ausschließlich Roma-Kinder, die aufgepäppelt werden mussten, besuchen heute Kinder unterschiedlicher Gruppen die hellen, bunten Räume, in denen zwischen Mobilees und Plüschtieren gemalt, gebastelt oder gelernt wird. Die Mehrheit der Kinder kommt jedoch noch immer aus den sozial schwächsten Schichten. „Natürlich merken wir, dass viele Eltern ihre Kinder lieber in einen anderen Kindergarten schicken wollen“, gibt Schwester Michaela fast entschuldigend zu, „aber wir wollen niemanden zwingen, sein Kind hierher zu schicken“.

Im Flur stapeln sich die Babymilch-Pakete. Milupa, deutsche Aufschrift. Man spürt die Präsenz des deutschen Mutterhauses hier im tiefsten Rumänien. Viele Spenden, über die sich das Kloster finanziert, kommen aus Deutschland. An Weihnachten würden Schuhkartons voller Geschenke aus Bayern kommen. Auch die einheimischen Schwestern, meist Szekler, lernen Deutsch. Kooperation sei dennoch oberste Priorität, betont Schwester Michaela mehrmals, „Hilfsprojekte müssen immer vor Ort verwurzelt sein“. Sonst brächte auch das größte Engagement langfristig nichts.

Dass die Ordensschwester pragmatisch ist, zeigt auch ihre Begründung, nach Rumänien zu ziehen: „Es wurde eine Stelle frei, ich habe mich beworben und wurde genommen.“ Es fügte sich einfach, ähnlich wie ihre Entscheidung, dem Orden beizutreten, die sie schon im Kindesalter für sich getroffen hat, ganz unbewusst, wie sie heute sagt. Und dennoch hält sie nach der fast nüchternen Bilanz kurz inne.„Es ist ein großes Geschenk, dass ich hierher kommen konnte.“

Ein kleiner Junge wirft sich der Schwester an den Hals und zwängt seine schmalen Schultern unter ihren Arm. Lori ist dreizehn und lebt seit seinem ersten Lebensjahr bei den Schwestern. Sie mussten das einstige Frühchen mit der Flasche aufziehen. Seine Mutter lebte einige Zeit mit Lori im Kloster, aber sie hat neu geheiratet – und den Sohn bei den Nonnen gelassen. Der Junge mit den schräg stehenden dunklen Mandelaugen und dem schlackernden grauen Pokemon-Shirt ist ausgelassen, aufgedreht, anhänglich, flitzt umher und zeigt stolz den Inhalt seines Nachttisches. Fußballkarten, Spielzeugautos, ein Poster von Lionel Messi und ein paar Auto-Sticker, auf denen Turbo steht. Turbo, das ist auch Lori, während er um die Nonnen herumflitzt.

Lori hat bei den Mallersdorfer Schwestern ein Zuhause gefunden, ebenso zwei Schwestern, deren Mutter sie bei den Nonnen zurückgelassen hat. Die Mädchen seien so klug, schwärmt Schwester Michaela. Und sie haben ein Vorbild: Die älteste der dreien hat soeben die Schule beendet, und will an die Universität, studieren.

Bevor für die Münchner die Ferien zu Ende gehen, wollen wir euch Tag 7 unseres Rumäniencamps 2019 nicht vorenthalten.

Der Tag begann mit einer Geburtstagsüberraschung für Orsi, die wir schon seit unserem ersten Jahr hier in Bögöz begleiten und die sich bald auch dem Basketballteam anschloss.
Es war sehr früh für unsere Münchner Mädels, eigentlich zu früh, um ehrlich zu sein. Dennoch waren alle sofort bereit, noch eher als gewohnt aufzustehen, um Orsi in aller Herrgottsfrühe ein Ständchen inklusive Torte und riesiger Luftballons zu überbringen. Schüchtern, aber dennoch sichtlich gerührt, empfang uns Orsi, die eigentlich gerade zum Training aufbrechen wollte.

Am Nachmittag wurde es dann nochmal „ernst“. Sechs Teams traten in unterschiedlichen Disziplinen im Garten von Irenke gegeneinander an. Um Verwechslungen auszuschließen, kennzeichneten sich die Teams mit Wasserfarben untereinander. Dann konnten die Abschlussspiele beginnen. „Pinguinmarsch“, „Krabbelgruppe“ und „Schnellste Maus von Rumänien“ waren nur drei von vielen Wettkämpfen, die mit lautem Anfeuern, schrillem Gelächter und aufgeregtem Zurufen von großer Begeisterung zeugten.

Eine spannende Woche geht zu Ende. Erfüllt, glücklich, aber auch wehmütig fahren die Münchner wieder heim. Die beiden ersten und wichtigsten Fragen der Bögözer Kinder bei der Abreise der Hellenen waren: „Wann kommt ihr wieder und wann dürfen wir euch besuchen?“

One Team, Bögöz go!

Der Donnerstag war der regnerischste Tag unseres Basketballcamps und betonte erneut, wieso wir uns auch weiterhin verstärkt für den Bau einer Sporthalle in Bögöz einsetzen wollen. Sandy stand um sieben Uhr morgens auf, um die Wetterlage zu überprüfen. Es sah zwar bedrohlich nach Regen aus, aber wir entschieden uns, dass Morgentraining stattfinden zu lassen.

Pünktlich um 8 Uhr standen alle Kinder und Trainer auf dem Feld, und nur 5 Minuten später fielen auch schon die ersten Regentropfen. Anfangs regnete es nur leicht. So trotzten wir dem Wetter und führten das Training beharrlich fort. Nach 20 Minuten aber, mussten wir abbrechen. Der Niederschlag nahm zu und alle jungen Sportler samt ihrer Trainer waren in nur kurzer Zeit klitschnass.

So liefen die Bögözer Kids im strömenden Regen wieder heim, während sich unsere Münchner Kids in die Pension begaben und den Vormittag mit Kartenspielen verbrachten.

In der Zwischenzeit organisierte Sandy kurzfristig ein Spiel in den wenigen Sporthallen in Udvarhely, die nächstgelegene Kleinstadt, 12 Kilometer von Bögöz entfernt. So konnten zumindest die Münchner den Nachmittag basketballspielend verbringen. Dort angekommen staunte man nicht schlecht über die verhältnismäßig große Halle und ihre Zuschauertribüne, die bereits mit einigen Eltern des Basketballteams aus Udvarhely besetzt war. Nur die mobilen Korbanlagen ließen vermuten, dass es sich eigentlich nicht um eine reine Basketballhalle handelt.

Das Spiel gegen Vendor war schnell entschieden und unsere Kleinsten – 2006 und jünger – zeigten phasenweise gutes Teamplay. León machte erste Coachingerfahrungen und Maria übernahm ihre Rolle als Schiedsrichterin. Die Partie entschieden unsere Hellenen deutlich für sich.

Anschließend waren Duschen und Abendessen angesagt, bevor der lange Esstisch in der Scheune für Spiele wie „Kommando Bimberle“ zweckentfremdet wurde.

Nachdem die letzten Tage intensiv und ereignisreich waren, schliefen unsere Münchner um 11 Uhr tief und fest ein. Was wohl der morgige Freitag für sie bereit hält?

Der Mittwoch war dann ein eher entspannter Tag für alle. Durch den geplanten Kinoabend, der am Vortag doch entfiel, gab es auch kein morgendliches Training. Also konnten alle ausschlafen. Nach dem Mittagessen machten wir uns mit der Pferdekutsche auf den Weg nach Dersch, wo wir durch eine der wenigen erhaltenen siebenbürgischen Wehrkirchen geführt wurden. Die holprige Hin- und Rückfahrt war für alle eine Herausforderung, auch wenn Sid es irgendwie schaffte, während der Kutschenfahrt einzuschlafen.

Nach einem anstrengenden Abendtraining hatten die Coaches eine besondere Überraschung parat. Mit einem LED Draht brachten sie die Körbe auf dem „schönsten Basketballplatz der Welt“ zum leuchten. Mit farbigen Knicklichtern ausgestattet und einem orange-leuchtenden Ball versorgt, fand der erste Nightball der Bögözer Geschichte statt.

Dies war jedoch nicht das Ende dieses ereignisreichen Tages. Um 2 Uhr in der Nacht fingen gefühlt alle Hunde des Dorfes an zu bellen. Grund dafür war ein großer Bär, der um diese Zeit an unserer Pension vorbeilief und deren Anwesenheit von der Sicherheitskamera des Ladens gegenüber eingefangen wurde. Bögöz ist eben immer für eine Überraschung gut.

Fotokids: Mia + Blanca

Auch der Dienstag stand unter dem Motto „Abenteuer“. Diesmal blieben wir aber nicht im Dorf, sondern es ging auf eine einstündige Fahrt mit dem Bus in die „Wildnis“. Nach einem kurzen Mittagessen, den uns die Eltern unserer Bögözer Kids organisiert hatten, begaben wir uns zu Fuß zur Almási-Höhle. Nach einer etwas heiklen Wanderung über wackeligen Hängebrücken im malerischen Wald kamen wir neugierig an unserem Ziel an. Nachdem wir uns in drei Gruppen aufgeteilt hatten, führte uns Imi, Evis Mann, durch die Höhle. Spektakulär und nicht ganz ungefährlich, aber vor allem aufregend war es im Inneren der Höhle. Gleich zu Beginn erwartete uns ein Schwarm von Fledermäusen, die hektisch um uns herumflogen. Für einige wenige Tiere waren wir weniger spannend und so hingen sie gelangweilt oder einfach nur müde von der Höhlenwand herunter und ließen sich minutenlang begutachten.

Anschließend mussten wir einen kleinen Umweg zum ausgemachten Treffpunkt machen, da unser Bus den steilen Pfad nicht bewerkstelligen konnte. So waren wir insgesamt 8 Stunden und einige Kilometer unterwegs. Am Ziel angekommen warteten bereits einige Bögözer Mütter mit Brot und selbstgemachter Marmelade auf uns.

Die Fotokinder des Tages waren Maria + Robel.