Wednesday April 20th 2011

          This is our last full day in Romania – tomorrow afternoon we will head for home.

          The good news is that Flori is due back at Cefa today after her extra blood transfusions. She will come back after her dialysis session and should already be here except for a problem with the ambulance so she will be late arriving. So I must hurry up with my diary so as to be able to give her my undivided attention when she gets back.

          The bad news is that Phil was feverish in the night (Thanks Patty for your generosity in sharing your cough and cold with him!!!!!!!!!!!!!) and so decided this morning not to come to Oradea with me. He had struggled yesterday but it was really only over-night that the full force of this nasty bug hit him. Having said that after a lazy day doing nothing much but wandering over to see the animals and get fed, he IS feeling a good bit better but SOUNDS terrible, croaking away like a frog or coughing whenever he says anything!

          So I went solo today. I went to Agape (programme for young adult orphans providing education, life skills and in some cases employment. Sandor was disappointed Phil was not there as he was hoping to show him how he has developed the garden area, so he showed me instead and I took lots of photos for Phil. Now I am no gardening expert but I was seriously impressed at how every single area of land is used. I hope they have the bumper harvest they surely deserve.

          I met several of the young women on the Agape Beauty to Ashes Programme. One had been with them several years ago, then left to go and live on the streets (because she could not handle the rule of cleaning the kitchen or any area you use after you use it so it ready for the next person). For 18 months she was on the streets, living by begging and stealing, staying in a group with others on the streets, but Agape kept in touch with her helping her and reminding her they still loved her. In January their love and patience was rewarded and she asked to come back on the programme agreeing to abide by the rules. Since then she has done well though is finding the education programme very challenging. She is now working in the small card production business they run and which is a main source of income for them.

          Another new young woman is not so young but in her mid thirties. For her the aim is to learn a skill so she can support herself and then can take her child out of foster care and care for him herself. For each young person the goal is different, depending on their situation and talents.

          Then I went with Raul from Speranta Familiei and here I was really disappointed by some sad news but filled with admiration for his commitment. We knew funds were tight for this charity and that that was why they had applied to use half their building as a coffee shop. They had had funding promised for this project. But what I did not know was that an unexpected by-law had come into effect preventing them from setting up a coffee shop there. And with that went the hoped for funding for salaries – their plan was to use the income from the coffee shop to fund the social workers’ salaries.

          Raul said that since last summer there has been no money for his salary, he is continuing as a volunteer because he believes passionately in the work they focus on. This is assisting impoverished single parents and supporting children through education where lack of funds would otherwise stop the education.

I asked Raul how he manages financially and he said his family help and he is receiving some temporary unemployment benefit from the Romanian government. He explained that a firm decision will be made as to the future when the founder visits Romania in a month’s time, but unless there is funding available he expects they will sell the building and wind the charity down. He very much hopes his financial situation will allow him to see it through to the end.

          He took me to see 2 single mothers on their programme, taking clothing etc from the aid trailer. One was in town with 7 children, half of whom were in foster care; it was one of those ghastly places in town where there are poor courtyards in the city behind high gates.

          The other single parent was a gypsy living in appalling conditions in a gypsy settlement in the Orsohei village (a quite affluent village just outside Oradea) – although I have been to the village numerous times I had never seen this gypsy part. The single room dwelling was very short – Raul had to stoop to avoid hitting the ceiling. The cracking ceiling was held up by several tree branches. The single bed filled about a third of the total area. But the woman was welcoming and had a certain dignity about her. Her tiny home was spotlessly clean – an earth floor, mud bricks, a cracked roof, no water, no electric light, though some dwellings did appear to have lights, judging from the low hanging wires that we kept having to duck to avoid! She thanked us for the clothes – her son found a teddy bear among them – then she thanked God for our help.

Tomorrow we leave Romania, we plan to over-night on the Hungarian – Austrian border at Hegyeshalom. We are not due on the boat till Monday so we should have a leisurely trip back home, meeting up with Michel in St Malo to collect the paperwork from their trip.

          So this is my last diary of the trip.

Thanks for reading them – I hope you have excused the mistakes I have made and that you have been able to share with us in the trip.     ~  Rose



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