Those of us privileged to distribute Christmas shoeboxes and food parcels in Romania in December 2009 are in no doubt that the boxes are very much appreciated & valued.


There were just over 2000 shoeboxes from Jersey and Sark this time. Almost 700 of those were for needy pensioners. Whether pensioners because of age or illness, statistics show that this group is the most needy in the country & they showed their gratitude often with tears of joy. As children cheered and jumped with joy, the adults often wept and squeezed our hands.



Photos taken December 2009



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This year for the first time, Mustard Seed Jersey donated shoeboxes and other items of aid to some of the victims of people trafficking.

People Trafficking is possibly best described as modern day slavery. The normal scenario is that a young woman from an impoverished country such as Romania, Moldova, etc. is offered a job in the west and promised a good salary.

BUT the trafficker withholds the passport and so the victim finds her/himself forced to work for very little often in bad conditions. Mustard Seed Jersey’s contact is one of the social workers who assists the victims when they have been repatriated to western Romania. She told of one victim whose story has a happy ending:

Lisa (not her real name) went to the city to attend university but was in daily contact with her mother. One day Lisa and two friends were invited to a juice bar in town, but they were drugged and kidnapped. Unable to defend themselves they remained sedated for some time, while false passports were made and they travelled to Holland.

Back in Romania. Lisa’s mother knew something was wrong as her daughter had not been in touch. She travelled to the city and INSISTED the police MUST take some action.

The police managed to get Lisa returned to Romania, where she is recovering from her traumatic experience.

Like all victims, her self confidence is destroyed and she is now very fearful. Sadly Lisa’s two friends are still in Holland.




The Mustard Seed Jersey lorry unloaded at Cefa in December 2009. On the trailer were Christmas shoeboxes, bedding, clothing, building materials, beds, computers, bicycles, etc


We are so grateful to all those  who knit for us – blankets, hats, scarves, jumpers, gloves, socks. The recipients are always so thrilled to receive a hand knitted item – as well as being warm it says someone cared.


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It was obvious that the young and old alike are thrilled to receive a blanket.

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Each year we aim to ensure there is a warm hat in each Christmas shoebox, sometimes we can put in 2 or 3 items of warm clothing. THANK YOU TO ALL WHO KNIT SO FAITHFULLY.




It was a huge thrill for both Mustard Seed Jersey and Mustard Seed Romania when Casa Mabel opened in May 2009.


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Very much aware of the plight of needy elderly pensioners after finding one of the Adopt A Granny sponsored pensioners was sleeping outside in a make-shift shelter, the idea of a home for the elderly had been in thoughts and prayers of Mustard Seed supporters.

In May 2007 the appeal was launched to raise the money to build a home in Cefa, western Romania.

Then began 2 years of fund-raising and prayer. In spite of there being signs of recession the money was pledged and came in so the building worked commenced.

By then costs were rising in Romania and the young women in the Mustard Seed sheltered apartment in the city of Oradea were struggling financially even with the support of Mustard Seed Jersey.

How the inspiration came nobody is quite sure, but it was decided as an experiment that the young women would live in the upper storey of Casa Mabel and the elderly female pensioners would live on the ground floor. 



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Maria was the first elderly lady to move in to Casa Mabel in the late summer of 2009. Unlike Terez (also in the picture) Maria can move around with a walking frame. She is happy there and acts as grandmother advising the young women living upstairs.



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Adela is one of the young women living upstairs at Casa Mabel. She had been in the Mustard Seed sponsored apartment. She is a very gentle sweet caring young woman and is now employed as assistant carer. She was thrilled with her Christmas shoebox.


Amazingly the mix of old and young works incredibly well – it is like a family; the old ones keep young and laugh at the young ones’ antics, the young ones seek the advice of the old ones.

The young ones lovingly help the old ones, giving an arm to help with walking or to help with feeding if needed.

The young ones all grew up in orphanages and now one said that from having no grandmother she now has three to love!



MEET ANA who lives downstairs at Casa Mabel

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Ana is in her seventies. In her youth she had suffered at the hands of Russian soldiers. Now she has problems with her legs and had been in hospital. Consequently she missed the distribution of Christmas shoeboxes to all the residents of Casa Mabel. So the day she returned from hospital she received her box and on opening it began to weep. Tearfully she explained that all her toiletries had been stolen while she was in hospital so these new ones were so very welcome. She wept again when she saw a hand knitted blanket at the bottom of her box, deeply moved that someone cared for her.




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But the schools in the city and surrounding villages were shut, a week earlier  than planned because of lack of money to pay the teachers in Romania.

It meant when we visited the home we met the girl who would otherwise have been at school – this happened a number of times.

Her family’s story is of triumph over tragedy. Several years ago the parents died suddenly leaving 4 children, the oldest was almost 18. Different charities worked together to keep the family together and support them till they could all earn money. She is the youngest and as well as studying at high school she cleans and cooks and washes for the older brothers. The charity helps by providing the bus fare to help her attend high school.

Across Romania we were told there is a shortage of money to pay government employees, so ALL those employed by the government must take an enforced week’s unpaid leave every month – it is expected it will continue all through 2010. It affects school teachers, social workers, university lecturers, doctors, nurses. Those employed by the government all face a 25% reduction in wages.

            Most concerning is that there are 25% less doctors and nurses on duty at any one time. We spoke to a doctor who was deeply concerned about the implications for patient safety. We heard of a baby badly injured in an incubator, because one nurse alone was monitoring 30 babies and failed to see when a mal-function occurred.

            Many are deeply concerned about what 2010 holds for Romania and especially the poorest of the poor.



For Mustard Seed Jersey representatives the most disturbing visit was to the disused factory site where a number of unemployed people squat as they have nowhere else to live. For most their only means of income is collecting and selling scrap metal.

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One family (in photo) had been removed from the Mustard Seed family sponsorship programme as they both had good jobs at the nearby new supermarket and were coping well without help. BUT the supermarket recently closed and now their only income is collecting scrap metal again.

Many in this community had summer weight footwear even sandals in the ice and snow – it was minus 11 at the time. One man pleaded for a pair of wellingtons, all he was wearing were leather strap sandals.


On returning to Jersey an appeal was launched for money to buy waterproof boots for this community.

This story has a happy ending: in 10 days over £2000 was given and approximately half has been sent to Romania. Boots have been bought  for those in summer weight shoes and sandals. [See photo below]

group boots


It has become apparent that in Jersey it is possible to obtain better quality wellington boots than in Romania, so the balance of  the money raised will be used to buy wellington boots and warm socks in Jersey to send to Romania  for this community.



 “God has created us to do small things with great love” Mother Teresa of Calcutta



Our future plans for 2010

We believe it will be a tough year for the Romanians, we hope to help and support the poorest of the poor as best we can.  Cost of transport to Romania has risen sharply but we hope to send 3 aid lorries this year (spring, late summer/ autumn, & December).

Ways you can help




Plumbing materials;          

Building materials;  


Tools – building tools and garden tools; 

Incontinence pads;  

Hygiene Items;  



 Educational equipment;  


Double beds;  




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