Kaláka Stories

Posted by on Jun 9, 2015 in Stories | Comments Off on Kaláka Stories

The most valuable natural resource in small rural communities is people. Villages in the ethnic Hungarian regions of Transylvania often survive on subsistence farming. Local economies struggle, young people leave and go to the city, or to other EU countries where they can find work. It’s a familiar tale. But stories abound of what can be accomplished when people identify a need and pull together in a volunteer effort – a kaláka.

Homorodszentpeter

A kaláka to re-roof the community house in Homorodszentpeter, Transylvania

Recently Tom Merritt, who is a member of Unity Church – Unitarian in St. Paul, Minnesota, sent this photo of a kaláka in the small village of Homoródszentpeter. Unity Church has a very active partnership with Homoródszentpeter and over the years has provided funding, manpower, or both to support village projects. In the photo, taken circa 2008, Americans and villagers are working together to re-roof a community building. Community buildings are the heart of village life and when they can be restored to full use, the community is strengthened.

GyepesKalaka

Volunteers build a new community gathering space in Gyepes.

A few years ago, I witnessed a kaláka in the village of Gyepes that resulted in the creation of a vibrant community gathering space. The project came together with volunteer labor and materials and help from a small matching grant. The space has become central to events of all kinds, from traditional celebrations to summer camps.

A little money goes a long way when you have people empowered by the tradition of kaláka.

Please share you stories with us!