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News Archive

Romanian Artist paints a Duck EggCraft Eggs for Easter

Postive News, Spring 2003

If you are looking for an unusual present this Easter you might like an egg that won't get consumed on the day. In facts it's a work of art that you'll want to keep.

Craftswomen in Northern Romania paint eggs with intricate and beautiful patterns in their remote villages and homesteads. The eggs are imported by the Transrural Trust who sell them on their behalf.

The Transrural Trust works in partnership with rural communities especially hardship, poverty of opportunity by reason of their remote location or where conflict or oppression has damaged the local economy.

"We work with people and in places by-passed or overlooked by the major aid agencies and government initiatives," explained Gillian Rose, the Projects Director. "Our approach is positive and pragmatic. It aims to create self-reliance and not dependency."

The Trust helps communities to develop products or services based on their own skills, creativity and natural resources, and to help them to identify markets.


When bite-sized hats get ahead of fashion

Gazette, Wednesday, December 4, 2002

New meaning has been given to the phrase of eating one's hat.

A charity based in Witney is preparing for the novelty Christmas present market with hats made out of mushrooms.

There are also bow-ties, bags and miniature toy mice made from the same material, looking like suede and leather.

The “wear a mushroom for Christmas” sales pitch is being promoted by the Transrural Trust, based at Crawley Mill, near Witney.

This is the latest project to help communities in deprived parts of the world by developing and helping to sell products from traditional crafts.

Director Trevor Lucey said: “The mushrooms grow on beech trees highup in the Carpathian mountains in Romania and are harvested by the local people. At home they slice it, stretch it and make hats, mats and decorations out of the fabric.”

The trust has other projects on its books, including decorated eggshells from Romania, chestnut honey from Kosovo and traditional painting from Tibet.


Gillian Rose, Trust Founder, and Anca-Daniela Dobrea, Coordinator

Country Living Magazine, October 2002

GILLIAN ROSE I met Anca-Daniela in Summer 2001 when visiting Bucovina in north-east Romania. Like many local families in this mountainous region, Anca-Daniela offers tourists bed-and-breakfast accommodation. Unlike many, she speaks English.

I came across the traditional local craft of dyeing and hand-painting eggs. For many women, this is a vital, sometimes the only, means of securing an income for their families. But there isn't much opportunity to sell the eggs at a good price. The women live in isolated homesteads, often reachable only by horse and cart. We have established a network of volunteers in the UK to sell eggs at Christmas and Easter, via women's groups, church groups and art galleries. We have set up a scheme whereby people can sponsor an egg decorator. We also set up village-based groups in Romania to provide meeting places and informal raining for 70 egg decorators.

But to improve their incomes we need to expand into the general gift market. At Easter this year, we sold 5000 eggs in the UK via a mail-order catalogue. My aim now is to train another 180 young women in painting and book-keeping skills with the funding from the British Embassy in Bucharest and private donations. And for Anca-Daniela, a young mother and a qualified nurse, we provide employment in a region where there are so few opportunities.


ANCA-DANIELA DONREA Even though I live here in Vama, I didn't even know about the decorated eggs until Gillian came to stay last summer. Other tourists come to the mountains but this is the first time I have been given an opportunity like this.

I am the coordinator who keeps in touch with the decorators by phone, or visits them at their homes to see them working. I also liaise with Gillian, pass on orders and ensure that high-quality eggs are delivered to a central collection point on time. In addition, I deal with supply problems and bulk-buy materials, such as the eggshells, dyes, beeswax and lacquer, to keep costs down. The egg decorators like to have direct orders for their work. They are grateful that the Trust pays a good price in cash (the women receive nearly three times the local price). Sometimes, with local museum orders the women never get paid. The Trust always honours its orders: when some blue dyes didn't take properly, it compensated the decorator for her costs.


Helping families to rebuild lives

Gazette, 15 May, 2002

A charity based in Witney is helping to rebuild the lives of families devastated by war by introduction them to beekeeping.

The Transrural Trust is providing financial back-up, marketing and volunteer expertise to widows in the Kosovo region of the Balkans.

The women are being helped to take over the production of honey, a trade traditionally held by men, many of whom were killed in the regional conflict. The project has the support of the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fund, as well as individual sponsors.

It is using expert women beekeepers, some of them British, as trainers, co-ordinated by the Transrural Trust in Witney. Buyers of organic honey from Germany and other Western European countries are already interested in investing in the enterprise.

Director, Ms Gillian Rose, who has just returned from the region, said: "This approach of involving only women in a project to benefit women is much more likely to result in success."

Some women have taken over the beehives their husbands used to manage. Previously, men managed the bees and made all the decisions, while women helped package, store and sell the honey, she added.

"Other women want to learn from scratch. But, for all of them, selling honey would bring in significant extra income without conflicting with family demands or local traditions. It is still highly unusual for married women in Kosovo to take a job outside the home."

The trust based in Witney is appealing for volunteers. The can help with mailing, producing posters and brochures, fundraising, research, IT and organising sponsored events.

Eggs to the rescue

The Times, May 8, 2002

Not every Romanian business requires high-level investment. In remote villages near the Ukrainian border, women of all ages are being back by a British charity to apply intricate geometric designs, devotional images and brilliant colours to duck and goose eggs, Peter Brown writes.

In a region of scarce employment, decorated eggs can be the sole support for rural families. Transrural Trust, an Oxfordshire based charity devoted to preventing urban drift in poorer countries, has involved about 250 women in eight villages in a project designed to help them get the eggs to the right market.

Materials are bought in bulk, painting tips are swapped through a newsletter and the best decorators have formed a committee to maintain quality. The eggs are sold from £3 to £10 through volunteers. "We're trying to get business people in Britain to sell them in their offices at East and Christmas," says Gillian Rose, who started the charity.

The eggs are exchanged at Easter as a sign of friendship, but the painting tradition predates Christianity. The technique resembles batik. The eggs are selected, cleaned and rubbed with salt. Molten beeswax is applied with a quill to areas which then remain undyed when the egg is dipped into a dyebath. Repeated masking and dipping, using different dyes, give the shells their complex designs and bright colours.


Ancient art .. A Romanian woman decorates an egg for sale at EasterWomen keep a craft alive

Gazette, March 20, 2002

A SKILFUL and ancient craft, celebrated at Easter, is being kept alive thanks to a Witney charity.

The Transrural Trust, at Spinners Court, West End, has imported thousands of hand-painted eggs from remote rural communities in Romania.

An exhibitions and sale of the exquisitely decorated eggs takes place in the gallery room on the first floor of the Corn Exchange in Witney, on Saturday.

The trust is working with women in the Romanian communities - where there is virtually no employment - to help them develop their craft work, obtain the supplies they need and find markets.

Some of the eggs are covered in intricate geometric designs in vivid blues and reds. Others are decorated with flower and leaf motifs.

Ms Gillian Rose, the trust's projects co-ordinator, said: "Many are made just for Easter with religious symbols and pictures. Some of the women specialise in woodland scenes inspired by the unspoilt forests of the region.

"Others work with coloured beeswax, creating astonishing relief designs. A treasured few show The Last Supper, painted in the style of an icon."

The Trust is also selling the eggs at the High Street Methodist Church, Witney, on Saturday afternoon, while a selection is also on display and sale at Picture This craft gallery in Corn Street.


Charity Set to Bring Bees Back to Kosovo

Gazette, Wednesday November 14th 2001

A charity based in Witney has just been given over £150,000 to help restore a rural industry informer war-torn Kosovo.

The Transrural Trust, at Spinners Court, West End, is one of just two Oxfordshire organisations receiving awards in grants from The Diana princess of Wales Memorial Fund.

The money is to be use to help the battered Kosovan bee-keeping industry by providing credit, training and help for widows. More than 70 percent of their hives were destroyed in the 1999 conflict.

The project will also involve raising awareness of child health, disability and landmines.

The Witney trust was set up three years ago as a non-profit making body to help rural communities in the developing world.

It has already bought valuable support and income for women in remote villages of Romania by creating markets for a traditional craft of decorated eggs.

Ms Gillian Rose, projects coordinator, said “This grant will help families on the Kosovo-Albania border to rebuild their livelihoods. The area still harbours unexploded mines and cluster bombs, but bees can forage safely up to three miles from the hive. Bee-keepers will be helped to identify safe areas where the hives can be placed.”


Eggstraordinary art in Romania

Catholic Woman, Winter 2001/2002

The art of egg-decorating is widespread in Eastern Europe in the remote rural north of Romania. In villages and towns near the Ukrainian border, women of all ages work in their homes to transform duck and goose eggs into an art form characterised by intricate geometric designs, devotional images and brilliant colours.


In a region where employment is a very difficult to find, especially for women, the production of decorated eggs is an essential means of securing a modest income for families who otherwise support themselves from their won small landholding. For many who do not even have land, it is sometimes their only means of support. But from their isolated villages, with out telephones, public transport or the funds to travel, it is very difficult for them to find ways of selling the eggs.


Transrural Trust have put in place a programme to help them obtain a better and more stable income from their art. We are helping them buy the materials they need in bulk to guarantee supplies and keep their costs down.

Solidarity and support

We are trying to establish a market for their eggs here in Britain. If we can generate sales here, we can give the egg decorators regular and consistent orders which in turn ensures a regular income for themselves and their families. We know that they would much prefer to improve their situation through their own efforts and skills than through handouts. Every egg sold generates funds which directly benefit the women involved in our programmed. The income they receive pays for healthcare and education and also generates fund for the communities where they live.

Women's World Day of Prayer

Women's World Day of Prayer in 2002 focuses on Romania and its women. Help to raise funds for them by buying or helping to sell their beautiful decorated eggs.

Why not give decorated eggs to your women friends and relatives on Women's World Day of Prayer as a sign of solidarity with women in Romania? And they make wonderful Easter presents for everybody. We sell the eggs in safe transparent packaging. Prices vary from £3 - £10.


Help Bees' Needs

Courier Thursday, December 6th 2001

A charity is helping to rebuild the lives of people in war-torn Kosovo by restoring beehives destroyed in the conflict.

The Transrural Trust was awarded a grant of £150,300 by the Princess Diana Memorial Fund to boost the country's bee-keeping industry. The Witney charity also hopes to raise awareness of issues such as child health, disability and landmines.

Gillian Rose, the projects coordinator of the Transrural Trust said: “This grant will help families in the Kosovo-Albanian border to rebuild their livelihoods.

“The area still harbours unexploded mines and cluster bombs but bees can forage safely.

The company is receiving£50,000 annually for three years but it also needs to raise £10,000 from the public.

More than 70 per cent of beehives were destroyed in the conflict in which Siobodan Milosevic massacred thousands of Albanians.


Easter eggs bring aid to Romania

Gazette, Wednesday, April 11 2001

A WITNEY-based charity has been all the way to Romania for its Easter eggs.

Several thousand of the intricately hand-painted ducks eggs are now being sold as decorated gifts by the Transrural Trust.

Churches, schools and volunteers in the Witney area are among those helping the trust to raise money and build up business for women in remote rural villages in the north east of the East European country.

Trust director, Trevor Lucey, said: "Many people in this area and across the country have been sending shoe-boxes of gifts to help Romanian people.

"We are bringing their own goods here as an essential way of securing a modest income for many families in the region."

The decorated eggs, inscribed with beeswax and then dyed or hand painted, are a traditional craft going back centuries in the Bucovina region of Romania.

The attempt to build up a market for them in this country is just one iron in the fire for a non-profit-making trust set up three years ago to help rural communities in the developing world.

Other initiatives include helping beekeepers in Kosovo to build up their small-scale industry after the devastation of the recent Balkan conflict.

Another involves the marketing of dried fruit products from rural communities in Africa.

The Transrural Trust's project co-ordinator is Gillian Rose. She said: "These beautiful eggs are not very well known here yet, but they are like miniature works of art.

"They make ideal presents and will provide work for people in communities where there is not much opportunity."

They are being sold for between £5 and £10. Mr Anthony Richards, a volunteer from Churches Together in Witney, said: "It is a wonderful project and we hope people will buy them."

The trust, founded by a group with a wealth of experience in aid and other agencies across the world can be contacted via their website.