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Mihai Eminescu Trust

Objectives
The Mihai Eminescu Trust in Sighisoara, Romania, aims to preserve the cultural and natural heritage of the Saxon Villages in Siebenbürgen / Transylvania, mainly by restoring built heritage, encouraging entrepreneurship and the development of cultural sustainable tourism.

Background
The Mihai Eminescu Trust (MET) is a non-profit organisation working since 1998 to preserve the cultural and natural heritage of the Saxon villages with fortified churches of Transylvania some of which were recognized by the UNESCO World Heritage. MET concentrates on the villages of Transylvania, a special case because of the age and richness of their culture and the emergency caused by the mass emigration of the Romanian Saxons inhabitants in 1990. The emigration has brought in these villages a new community, with other traditions and cultural background. This was the opportunity identified by MET, on which its work is based on, in order to preserve the inherited cultural values. Making locals responsible and proud of their heritage remained a challenge, which MET succeeded to achieve.

The “Whole Village Project”
Since its establishment in Romania in 2000, MET pioneered the Whole Village Project. This integrated project aims at revitalizing rural communities and improving local livelihoods through the sensitive use of their remarkable natural and cultural heritage. By using local resources, human know how tools and techniques, the Whole Village Project works by adopting an entire village community, assessing its various problems and needs, and trying to identify integrated solutions. Priority actions are chosen through local community consultations and the implementation is entrusted to a local team under the supervision of the MET.

Results
To date MET has been active in 49 villages and 5 towns. Projects developed and implemented cover a wide range of activities including restoration of buildings and landscape, revitalization of crafts and traditional farming practices, supporting small rural businesses, providing training for villagers, creating jobs and career opportunities. Moreover, many initiatives have been taken to promote rural heritage, walking routes, traditional guesthouses, home-made products and the unique experience of traditional rural lifestyle.

Future
The innovative character of The Whole Village Project and the integrated approach of this concept, created and implemented with success in several villages, have proved to be a solid foundation for the revitalization and sustainable development of these. Consequently, the multiplication of its concept for sustainable development is one of the Trust’s main long term objectives: inserting the MET know-how on a larger scale by developing a new regional development concept, based on the Whole Village Project may contribute to a larger number of sustainable communities in rural areas.

Horizon has been an active supporter of the projects of MET since 1999. More information of the activities of MET is to be found on its website: http://www.mihaieminescutrust.org/ .