by Kevin Campbell,
Executive Director at Eurovangelism/EuroChange
It all began on a cold snowy night in a Moscow cemetery. It was not what I had expected when I was invited to a candlelight memorial service. In the car (Lada without heat) I was informed that the service was outdoors and in a cemetery. The temperature was well below freezing as we began our walk through the shadowy grave markers. The faint sound of chanting and the lights of a hundred or more candles could be heard and seen in the distance. Arriving deep within the cemetery our destination was a stunningly beautiful testament to the human spirit and a contrast to the stark cold; not only the cold of that night, but for the cold atrocities that brought these survivors together.
As I stood amongst the snowy candle lit graves, there was a noticeable heaviness in the air. A wisp carrying atrocities memories. This wisp, this gentle soft, barely recognizable ethereal wisp lingers and hovers as a reminder of things that once were and ought not to have been. I have seen this lingering wisp as I walked the train tracks at Birkenau and as I stood in the yard near block 11 at the death wall in Auschwitz. It was there at the House of Shadows in Moscow and at the House of Terror in Budapest. I have seen it in Red Square where the Soviet war machine paraded its rocket carriers, tanks, and marching troops. It was there when I crossed the Rainbow bridge in Serbia where just a few short years earlier NATO had incapacitated by bombing.
This wisp was present at Cigid, the Romanian Auschwitz for little children. It was there when I stood upon the shores of the Danube river in Budapest where women and children, with their hands and feet bound, were thrown to their deaths, by that Countries fascist regime. I have seen this wisp in refugee camps and in many prisons and jails and witnessed firsthand violence and man’s inhumanity at every level; on-and-on; Ad-Infinitum. These are the lacerations of the sights and sounds of the barely recognizable ethereal wisps that linger and hover as a reminder of things that ought not to be. There are giants in the land that can stop the heart with just one glance. Yet why be afraid or despise the world, attempt to escape it, hide from it, or permit giants to intimidate? We can lie down and rest, for there is a bigger small – than intimidating giants.
What is that bigger small thing that can, has, and will, overcome the atrocities of the intimidating giants? Borrowing the words of Gandalf from The Hobbit (An Unexpected Journey), “Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.” Seeing (noticing), bearing witness and heart awareness acting; taking loving action and bringing joy through small things is that bigger small thing.
Let me introduce to you a bigger small thing.
I serve with a Canadian grassroots relief, development, and advocacy organization (charity) amongst the often forgotten. A small thing, devoted to working with the vulnerable; abandoned children, children with disabilities, widows, and communities in Eastern Europe to overcome poverty and provide relief. EuroChange (Eurovangelism) projects help those suffering from the effects of natural and man-made disasters, and crisis across the region, food insecurity and nutrition. The bigger small thing of being socially responsible and committed to a life of compassion, to help those who cannot help themselves.
Our primary focus presently is upon the following bigger small things…
- Project Romania -Travelers Rest Retreat Center and Seniors Residence
From childhood through midlife and into our golden years each is unique with its own distinct beauty and needs. This one-of-a-kind life changing program in Romania has been birthed out of the repeated expressed needs of those we have rubbed shoulders with. The Center will initially host a Seniors Center and a retreat center including a Zen Do and the final phase, an orphanage.
- Retreat Center: Will provide an environment where programs and services will nurture personal and spiritual reflection (growth/recovery), facilitating a safe environment for concentrated practice, counselling, and direction. Offering a space for personal growth and guided retreats, as well as space for workshops and organizational team building.
- Seniors Center: Will provide safe and comfortable housing for 10-12 Widows. Given that many Widows have so little support, it will be a place of dignity and respect with a warm and welcoming environment of kindness.
The Center will be centrally located in Holod Romania (Transylvania) on three and a half acres of land that currently has both electricity and water running to it.
- Orphans, Abandoned Children, children with disabilities.
Having parents and family that love us, for most, is normal. For many children in Eastern Europe, a region with few, if any safety-nets, this is but a dream. Love; as food, drink, breath, and safety is so essential. In a small city in Romania, after the revolution in 1990 in a former state orphanage there where 660 abandoned children warehoused. A program began (Kingdom Kids) to address the needs of these children. Because there was a lack of stimulation, communication, love, and attachment for so long the absence of these essential elements left their mark upon these and countless other children. Many of the children became self-aggressive, delayed physically and mentally. Kingdom Kids mission is to improve the quality of life and the institutionalization effects and to promote the maximum potential of children. This is the bigger small thing.
There is a category of children whose only gift might be a smile given, a kiss upon the cheek, or to be held in someone’s arms. These are the children abandoned in state orphanages.
A small biscuit, a wafer, a juice box, and a piece of chocolate may not seem like much, but it is the kindness that brings happiness and improves the quality of life more than can be imagined. These are the children who do not benefit from the love of a parent. Currently there are 11-12 children with a single staff to cook, do the laundry, wash dishes, feed, clean the children and the facility, give lessons, and write reports. It would be a luxury should there be two staff members per shift. These children did not choose to be in an orphanage. Presently the Romanian society is not yet prepared to accept and integrate these children.
More Info on EuroChange
Executive Director at Eurovangelism/EuroChange