The first links were formed in Europe in the aftermath of World War II, cooperation between communities or “twinning” as it was called, was seen by local leaders first and foremost as a means to build bridges of understanding and confidence between peoples of nations which had been at war. Twinning was aimed at bringing about social and cultural exchanges between civic officials, schools and community groups.
The twinning between Belgian and Romanian cities has another input. After being elected as general secretary of the Romanian Communist Party in 1965 and consolidating his power by becoming president of the State Council, communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu planned a large scale destruction of Romanian villages and municipalities. This communist systematization ended a respectful relationship with the countryside and was the largest European destruction in peacetime. By the end of the 80s of the 20th century, together with the rising internal and foreign protests, Adoption Villages Romania was set up to safeguard the destruction of rural communities in Romania. In 1988 the idea of the adoption of a Romanian village at risk, was an unilateral protest against the Ceausescu regime.
At the end of 1989 – beginning of 1990 this changed into a humanitarian action. For shortly after the first convoys, the need grew to collaborate on a structural way. Bilateral agreements resulted in governmental supported projects and actions. Around 2000 a new need came up: how could we evolve from external funded projects towards community driven projects. The development of bottom-up and inside-out projects became the headline of the last 10-15 years. Slightly the collaboration evolves from a problem driven approach towards an asset based community development.