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Adi Matis – Smiles Romania Assistant Director   June 2015

History - with a man that is no more

This month’s story is about Tibi from Salard. Many of you that visited Salard Community will no doubt remember him, because there were several special things that made him different and memorable. But unfortunately, Tibi is not with us anymore. He had a heart-attack and even though the ambulance came for him immediately, he never recovered, he never regained full consciousness. Two weeks ago he was disconnected, after being on machine-support for two months. The doctors sent him home, but expectedly he did not resist much. One week later he died.

I came to know Tibi as soon as I visited Salard for the first time. I was trying to remember when was that, but couldn’t, but definitely sometime in the spring of 2009. What I do remember was the extreme poverty, terrible conditions the people lived in, the thick mud and the smell just as thick, so sticky and deep that my shoes were literally pulled off several times! I remember it was a Sunday afternoon when I joined a mission team that went there to visit and so I came to see what the tough living I had heard about, really was… And in fact, I’d never before seen such despair!

Tibi was taken to our bus for the food distribution. I could immediately tell that he could not see, because his wife Lili, was carefully holding his arm and guiding his steps through the anxious crowd waiting for the food bags. People were pushing and yelling, something I later learnt was just their regular communication method, but Tibi waited for his turn calmly and patiently and when he finally received his bag, he said "Thank you!" and slowly stepped away, accompanied by his wife, grateful and happy to receive a nice gift that Sunday afternoon.

That image stayed with me and then slowly, once I got more and more involved with the community, I came to know him better and often we talked about the various issues he needed to deal with and I found out a lot about his situation. He told me he was blind, as in he could only see very strong light, like sunlight, but not much else at all. He had lost his sight many years ago, being a genetic condition that many of his family has. I felt sorry for him. He appeared to me as a very intelligent person, well-behaved and well mannered, having a very coherent and pleasant way to talk and interact.

In October 2009, Tibi and wife received a brand new converted container from Smiles, to replace their collapsing mud brick house. It was a very rewarding afternoon for me to be there and to participate with the visiting team for the instalment of their new house. Tibi and Lili stood together and I could see tears of joy in their eyes, finally they were moving into a proper place, for the first time in their lives.

It was very impressive to me to see how Tibi sees living. As a paradox, he had a better vision than many others. Despite his disability, he would often take his bike, an old rusted but trusted Russian bicycle and he went to bring wood. He told me he was not scared at all driving his bike, because he came to know every hole and every stone on the road and these were not obstacles anymore, but rather guidance for him to keep the right direction!

I thought what a lesson! And such a universal truth in it! It takes a deeper sense, to be able to use the barriers as guiding lines – we all need to do this more often! And there is also a little bit of a funny story about this: Tibi told me one morning he went, as usual, to collect dry wood. Unlike other mornings, a cart was park on the side and of course, as he couldn’t see it, he went straight into it. Then, he slide into the ditch, and because it’s a steep one, he couldn’t come out – he was there, in the ditch for about two hours, until someone passed by and rescued him! But all in good spirit, Tibi was not discouraged. Next morning he went again.

Tibi kept very busy all the time. No sight, but neither time to loose. He would go around and collect various plastic or metal scrap, sort it and take it to the recyclers. This way he could make some money to cover some of his basic needs. Then, once in a while, he would come in Oradea and do the same, collecting plastic bottles or scrap metal and when he would go back he could take a bag with some food!

Two years ago, I was very happy to be able to complete all the paperwork needed, so Tibi could benefit from a special pension from the state for his disability. The procedure was long and complicated, but we succeeded and so, at least in his last years, the life was a little bit easier for him. Also, as his medical condition got worse, we helped him for a good while to get his medicine and take the treatment.

As his wife Lili died four years ago, being alone was not easy for Tibi. But he was never down, or not for very long, never defeated, always brave and active and truly an inspiration in many ways. For me, it was quite a remarkable situation and he was a remarkable person. I will remember him as one of the beneficiaries or our support that not only received, but definitely had something to offer too. And that was his determination to never give in, despite all the difficulties!

And that drives me to my last note. I remember three or four years ago, Tibi built a fence around his container. He used of course the most common wood available in there, which is the willow. He cut the pillars, made the fence, all was done. Then, about a week later, as this was in spring or summer, a little green leaf showed-up on the wood. Then another and another one. Soon, all the pillars were covered in new, fresh leaves, even though those pillars were dead wood when he placed them! Amazingly, the water from the soil went up the dead willow and made it alive again, producing a new life, evident through those little leaves… I thought and I even said it at the time that such a ‘miracle’ could only happen in Tibi’s yard!

As always, thank you for your kind support given to the Smiles programmes. Thank you also for the emails you sent to me and be sure I will continue to stay in touch with you, as there are still so many other stories from our projects that need to be told! May God bless you in all things!

 Adi

Adrian Matis
Project Manager
Salard Project Manager & Sponsorship Co-ordinator

adrian.matis@thesmilesfoundation.org

More on the Salard Project and to Support:
http://www.thesmilesfoundation.org/projects/TheSalardCommunity.html


Previous reports from Adi:

May 2015 - A Story Worth Sharing

March 2015 - Here in Romania, but not only...

February 2015 - New year, new hope and new plans

January 2015 - Management Team Reports

December 2014 - Preparing for the Celebration

November 2014 - A man's true story... an inspiration to us all

October 2014 - Golden September

September 2014 - A Summer of Experiences

August 2014 - Salard Community Reloaded

July 2014 - Sessions for the Mind

June 2014 - Unknown

May 2014 - Celebrate with us

April 2014 - Beliefs

March 2014 - From being taken care of to taking care...

February 2014 - My dream... to become a pig caretaker

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