In 1987, I was invited by Colonel Donor (I would tease him about his name—that he was neither), to be a board member of his International Church Relief Fund, based in Santa Rosa, California. He asked me to direct the organization’s relief work in eastern Europe, with special attention upon Hungary and Romania. I made four trips there, beginning in 1990, shortly after the Cold War ended, when all the former iron curtain countries severed their subservience to the former USSR.
My work consisted of overseeing, through local churches and government agencies, the distribution of the food, medical supplies and clothing allocated to those countries. The copious and much appreciated supplies were delivered by 18-wheelers that were loaded in Amsterdam and driven to southeastern Europe …
This year marks the 35th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the dissolution of the Iron Curtain and subsequent eradication of Soviet-style communism in Eastern Europe. Today’s story is the first of a pair of accounts by two OLLI contributors involving journeys to Romania in the months and years after these events. Joseph’s narrative references the political and societal challenges he witnessed and their effects on the population at large. The second story is an intimate portrait of one family who faced alienation and personal hardship at the hands of the police state, as well as their response to family reunification after the Romanian revolution. Look for that story in a future blog over the next few weeks. — Editors