For 10 days during September we have lived and travelled with our Partners in Romania’s picturesque mountains.It has been a very hot, dry summer but they have been working tirelessly with a community of gypsy people living in the foothills of these mountains, in often inhospitable conditions.
We have now seen for ourselves the complex and daunting mission they face as well as marvel at how much they are able to achieve as they make sacrificial efforts to secure a better future for the people, whom they clearly love.
Here are some of their stories.
Luka is only 5 weeks old. He shares his 2 roomed simple village house with his 10 brothers and sisters. His mum is 36. She has given birth to 19 babies but 8 did not survive.His dad is not a strong man and the life they know is one of daily survival and dependancy on the sympathy of people in the neighbouring town. Mum is often in hospital and the children must fend for themselves. Luka’s 7 year old sister is slender and beautiful, but seldom smiles.
Two of Luka’s brothers, Stevie 8 and Georgie 10, were excited to come to the Day Camp arranged by our Partners for last Saturday. But an unusual rainstorm kept them at home all day. They are afraid of the rain and the thunder storms that come suddenly in the mountains, washing away the roads, turning the stream, where the women and girls wash clothes, into a raging wild river.Water and mud sometimes floods through the simple homes and destroys crops and meagre food supplies. Summer has turned quickly to autumn and they have inadequate clothing and shoes. They are bored and indoors high spirits and tempers can flare, but they are afraid to go outside in the rain and afraid if they are out that they will not get home again. Sickness too threatens them and a soaked child can lead to one more family tragedy. The lives of the young are extremely vulnerable here.
Mina 10, and her friends were in the yard of the new school at the celebration of the start of the school year. The local Mayor was there too, with the staff members and Director. All of them saw the Family Worker’s car drive past filled with volunteers on their way to prepare the Camp for them for that afternoon.
After school there was an excited buzz in the playground. Everyone wanted to go to the Camp but there was no available transport to take them. So 60 children aged 6-12 enthusiastically walked the 5km to the Camp in the forest and of course following the afternoon activities would have to walk back again! Arriving hot and still full of energy and anticipation they drank eagerly from the Camp’s well of pure mountain water.
On the way they passed their friend, Petrus 9, who said he would very much like to come with them but he and his sister must herd the cows and take them to better pasture. All his days are spent like this.
He is not unhappy, but he does wonder what the children are doing there in the camp and in the church. They seem to like it a lot and there is a lot of laughing and singing.
Gypsy children love to sing.
Mina loves the children’s meetings held at the church and she finds it easy to learn the memory verses as they drill them with games and rhymes. She often wins a prize.
She wishes that she could learn so easily at school too but she often misses school. Sometimes she must go with her mother and brothers to collect the forest fruits and mushrooms to sell for the family’s needs. Sometimes she cares for the little ones when mum is needed elsewhere. Then it’s hard to catch up with the school lessons when she goes back. Her grandmother says she doesn’t need school anyway, that all that is important for a girl is not learned at school. But Mina would like to try.
She is a shy girl but like many of the others she has struck up a special relationship with the Family Worker based on mutual admiration and trust. A loving hug, a smile, kind words – all are beautiful settings for these little diamonds.
Our Family Worker says “Mina and some of the others are so clever. They learn easily. People say they have a low IQ but it is clearly not the case. Many are very smart. We would like to start an After-School Project that would give them opportunity for help with homework and tuition. We have a good plan for this and the local authority say it may be possible to use the school. In our national system such education must also come from teachers with a diploma and not from volunteers. We have the teachers, the premises, the experience and the plan. Of course we don’t have the resources…….so the children are the ones who suffer. But we press on, for their sake, for a good solution.”
Our Romania 2012 campaign needs just 20 people to donate £10 per month for the salary of our Family Worker amongst these gypsy children. This is the beginning of a long term solution to see children better educated and gain better opportunities for themselves and their own children. We are totally convinced that with only £2 per week children like Luka, Stevie, Georgie, Mina, her friends and even Petrus amongst his cows WILL experience a better future.
Bill Wilson of Metro Ministries says of children in poverty “You may be the only hope they have”
After our week amongst them we are humbled to say in the case of these children that this is true!No-one else has this plan.
Please contact us today to set up a monthly standing order for only £10. Very Many Thanks.