Monday, July 18, 2011


Small tobacco field

Although we spent only a bit more than a full day in Kay’s community, it immediately felt very different from many of the other villages we have visited. Often, a village is inhabited primarily by elderly and middle aged adults. Schools struggle or fail to stay open with the minimum 100 students, and funerals are a far more common event than weddings. There may be one or two small magazines (stores) with the basic necessities, and of course at least one café. The gardens are worked, but often it is obvious that their sizes are shrinking as the owners’ age and can not manage the bigger task of planting, tending and harvesting the gardens of their youth. The streets are very quiet and vehicle traffic minimal. The young adults and their families have left to find work wherever they can. Some are within country, others outside the country. There are no jobs, no way of providing for a family in most of these little villages. We often say the villages are “dying”.

World map on the school wall next to the entry door....part of the project
Kay’s village felt different though. Granted it was a special weekend, not only because of the wedding, but because the new sports field (Kay’s project) was dedicated with a celebration the day before the wedding. There were an additional 25 or so Americans in the village and of course the camera crew from the national television station was there as well. All are reasons to draw people out. 

New combination basketball, soccer court.

However, it was not those things that made it feel different. As we walked out of town on Friday afternoon to admire the scenery, we passed a number of large lumber trucks, saw mills, wood drying sheds, tobacco fields, tobacco drying racks, piles of rock and more that were evidence that one could earn a living here. These things with the potential for sustainability were not lying dormant. This community was using the natural resources surrounding them, to generate income and sustain this village.  Children greeted us (in English) as we walked to the store for dinner supplies, and people of all ages were part of the wedding festivities.  I’m sure living here is full of challenges, and that many of the young people are drawn to the cities to go to universities, and for a better life, but somehow this village sitting precariously on the mountain edge is still hanging on! BRAVO GORNO DRYANOVO!!!!!!
Tobacco drying! A subsidized crop that will not be subsidized for long!

Piles of slate "harvested" from the mountains.

Tobacco drying racks. Will there be enough tobacco this year to use them all?

Saw mill and wood drying sheds on the mountain edge.

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