Monday April 14th


Today has been a good day, a really good day as far as Phil and I are concerned that sounds bad, really bad and Bill and Katie left this morning and yes I am sorry really sorry they missed today, as I know they would have been as excited, encouraged, moved, challenged as we were.


The day started very early with getting up to see Bill and Katie off at 6.00 am, then began again at a more leisurely time by breakfast. Geo was under his car when we went out to meet Nicu Gal from People to People (P2P) when we got back we were pleased to hear he has sorted the problem with the car.


After the usual pleasantries at Nicu's office over coffee we went out to Tinca and then Dumbrava to see 2 projects that P2P is supporting. We have been to the Tinca gypsy school before and always are amazed at how the development continues. There is now a kindergarten in 2 parts the under sixes and the over sixes, followed by the first 3 grades of the school system. What is encouraging is that the school has received accreditation as a school. Each year they need to add on an extra classroom to accommodate another year as the children come up through from kindergarten.


It is huge project offering so much to the community as well as the children, with showers for the families to use and washing facilities. This coming September they need to turn the church part of the building into another classroom and the church will have to meet elsewhere till they have the resources to build a new church on the site. Long-term they hope to build a new school on the ground they have and convert the present school building into kindergarten and community centre.


We then went on to Dumbrava and what we saw here really took our breath away and moved us to tears. In 2 houses side by side in a village a man called Viorel has opened his house to homeless pensioners to prevent them from living and dying on the street. It all began last year when Viorel (pastor of a little church) felt the need to put his teaching into practice and took in 2 homeless old women they lived with his own family. It has grown from there, extending into the next door house which is empty.


Without a shadow of doubt the need of old people is a top priority in Oradea, with many facing eviction or life on the streets. Some with support can stay in their own place but some have literally nowhere but the streets.


In November Nicu Gal found one of the sponsored pensioners assisted by P2P had been evicted and had nowhere to live but on the streets; he and his social workers searched desperately to find a solution and heard of Viorel and his work which had grown. Voirel's work is recognised by the authorities although he has not got the appropriate permissions or facilities what he offers is shelter and food but also a home and love. It is run by him and his wife. There are now 7 women and a similar number of men, with a new man arriving today. To have space for the new man, another has moved into a caravan in the garden. The man moving was homeless and found by Viorel with legs so badly frozen that he has lost the bottom part of one leg, he walks with crutches and showed us what he had done with making models out of soap.


Some of the pensioners are mobile some wheelchair-bound, one paralysed. Since moving in several have died but they died in a warm loving environment and not just a body on the streets.


We were so impressed by this project and with the love and commitment of Viorel and his family he saw a need and he got on and helped, no paperwork or permissions while the people froze to death.


We would hope to assist this project with aid and possibly finances through the Adopt-A-Granny scheme. It is not an official old people's home but a private home opened up to help the vulnerable elderly.


In the afternoon we met up with Kathy and went to a village where she has been assisting with aid from Jersey. The village is a long way out an hour's drive from Oradea and very remote (bumpy track). Both Phil and I were disappointed as neither Kathy nor her colleague had made any arrangements regarding distribution prior to our arriving at the village with a number of bags of clothes. By the roadside there was much discussion and suggestion during which time several gypsies (or so they appeared) who had clearly had a fair amount of alcohol to drink started shouting, gesticulating wildly, even snatching a baby from a bystander; Kathy's two fostered children were terrified and clung to Phil and me. Eventually we said to Kathy we were not happy there and wanted to leave before anyone got hurt and insisted we all got back into the minibus. We finally got back into the minibus and left with the villagers shouting and banging on the windows, trying to open the doors, waving their fists, etc.


Eventually a farmer showed us where the school teacher lived and the clothes for distribution were left with her for her to sort out. The teacher did not look best pleased when we turned up with bags of clothes to her house. Kathy seemed reasonably satisfied with the outcome and confident the teacher would distribute wisely to those most in need.



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