The Eyes of Zvala: 2005 Reunion
Photos by Alan Toy, Copyright 2005-2009
In 1980 the village of Zvala ceased to exist. It was in the watershed of the planned Starina municipal water supply and in the plans for the Poloniny Narodny (National) Park. The villagers sadly moved away, primarily to Stakcin, Humenne and Snina, their houses razed and their lands laid bare. While the village site was in the reservoir watershed, they were not inundated by water the way the neighboring village of Starina was.
A gated road, and a chapel on the site of the former church remains. There is still some cultivation going on in and around Zvala. The former residents still "own" their land and can cultivate it if they want to go to the hassle of getting in there, but they can't live there anymore.
Once each year, former villagers and their families are allowed a 'reunion' day at their former village site. The divine liturgy is celebrated and many attend, rain or shine and picnic afterwards in the glorious Carpathian mountain foothills. You can also just barely find the shrine marking the location of the village church along one of the dirt roads there and next to it is the graveyard, still tended by the families of those buried there, especially on reunion day each year. At the end of the day, they pack up their belonging and depart, most not seeing their homelands again for another year.
Attached are photos of the 2005 reunion, thanks to the generosity of Alan Toy who with his family has attended the reunions before. Look into the eyes of the villagers - those crystal blue eyes common to the region, the same eyes of my grandparents a century before.
Tremendous thanks to Alan Toy for the photos and portions of the narrative.
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Last Update: 04 October 2009