Bob the driver’s thoughts on the shoebox delivery trip Dec 2007


In the middle of November I had a phone call from Rose. Did I know of anyone who could help drive “Bertha” (the Mustard Seed lorry) to Romania with a load of aid and shoeboxes. I had a think and as I have a very understanding wife and some leave left I offered my assistance. I have done the trip on  3 previous occasions and I was fairly optimistic that I knew the route and with Bertha’s track record, we should make an uneventful trip through Europe to Oradea in Romania.

As planned David my co-driver and I got on well and we arrived in Oradea on the Friday morning, after leaving St Malo on the Tuesday evening. A good trip!

After many an hour spent at trying to clear customs between Hungary and Romania on the past 3 trips (more than 12 hours last year!) it was a joy to just pass through this year as the border was opened in January.

We were met at the border by Chipree from the charity People to People. He escorted us from the border to our unloading area. As soon as one crosses the border into Romania the roads are in bad repair. But our interesting trip to the depot was mastered and we arrived to be met by representatives from all the agencies Mustard Seed Jersey assists.

We spent nearly 2 hours unloading the  40 foot trailer. All the contents were put in neat piles ready to be loaded into vans and taken off for distribution. We also had a vast quantity of shoeboxes which we were going to help to distribute over the weekend. The trailer was unloaded much quicker than the time taken by the two Phils, Denis and George to load it!!

We were lucky being hosted by Geo and Simona at Caminul Felix. Caminul Felix is a large purpose built orphanage. David and I were treated wonderfully by the family and it was really good to be able to spend time in the company of a Romanian family.

After a good night’s rest we were treated to a hearty breakfast and our day began. We were to spend time distributing aid to needy families in outlying country areas where Rose has found a need in the past. We enjoyed the opportunity for sightseeing on the way out to the villages.

During the course of the day we visited many needy families and handed out shoeboxes to the children. Rose and Alex (some of you will have met him) dealt with various issues and problems that came up.

My own feeling is that the families are very needy and in general are helping themselves as best they can, while the assistance we give makes it a little easier. All the children we met had lovely smiles and when we gave them their shoeboxes they were keen to open them and rummage through to see what exciting things were inside.

One family we met were just a mother in her early thirties. She had 4 children plus a few others from previous relationships. She invited us into her very modest home where the little family were in the middle of bath-time, a plastic bath in front of the fire. 1 youngster was in the bath while the others helped dress each other.  Even although they had very little they were a happy loving little family. Rose has seen the help being provided to these families and I am sure she feels joy in the progress.

We visited other families including a girl who had been given the wrong injection many years ago which has affected her badly. She is now in her late 30s with no chance of any help. Her elderly parents look after her full-time. It was very sad but the mum and dad were very pleased to see us and invited us to have afternoon tea with them.

After a busy and rewarding day we went back to our digs.

Next day being Sunday we visited the beautiful Cathedral in Oradea. We arrived half way through the Mass, just in time to hear the choir singing “Ave Maria”. It was very beautiful and very moving – a great sense of peace in the cathedral.

Our afternoon was spent handing out food parcels and shoeboxes to pensioners at Cefa organised by Alex the pastor. More than 50 pensioners had walked from around the village to meet in the church hall. After prayers and a Romanian carol we handed out the parcels and shoeboxes. It was a pleasure to see the joy  on the faces of these proud people. What we gave will mean a little bit extra to make their Christmas special.

Again we noticed even though they had very little there was always a smile, a hug and the peace greeting “Pachey” as they leave. The parcels were a little heavy for some of the pensioners, but youngsters were around to help them take the goodies back home.

Our final visit of the day was to the girls’ hostel in Oradea – girls who had been brought up in state orphanages; some had been homeless, living on the streets, before joining the apartment sponsored by Mustard Seed Jersey. This project is supervised by Alex’s wife Rody. The girls under her supervision made us a great meal. Then we handed out the Christmas boxes. There was much laughter and fun as the parcels were all opened and the goodies distributed. We were told how the girls are employed, several working at the shoe factory, all very positive. Some of the girls came across to Jersey for a holiday earlier in the year.

We had found the couple of days rewarding but Monday morning dawned and it was time to journey back. It was a pleasure not to have to wait for hours on end at the border.

On our return journey we did encounter a little problem at Budapest with a diversion but we got back to the motorway eventually after driving along by the Danube. Our first night was spent in a hotel in Austria. After a good night’s rest we set off for Germany. The day proved frustrating due to numerous road works – we sat in one traffic jam for over 4 hours! By the time we got going, bearing in mind the boat times we decided to press on towards St Malo. We made it to Paris by 5 am – which is the best time as the traffic is very light. We had breakfast at Chatres and lunch at St Malo.

We had pushed hard but we had achieved our aim. Another safe and successful trip with lots to think about.

Written by BOB



Back to News and Needs