Winter Season – various updates from Romania
Adi Matis, Assistant Director of The Smiles Foundation, Romania
This winter is really taking a very serious hit on us! As we are used to, in the first months of the year the weather turns cold and the big freeze is very strong, but this January was particularly tough. There were several peaks (or maybe lows would be a better word!) in temperatures and some parts of Romania were again covered in 5 feet of snow! And that comes after a summer with the highest temperatures since they started to record it. But that is another story – winter is just very difficult and quite a headache in many ways.
After a rather mild December, January came in strong. The New Year brought a first round of flu or some sort of virus that hit many of us, Smiles workers as well as our beneficiaries. For some of the people it was particularly difficult, as we all realise that living on the streets or in derelict houses or between cold concrete walls is not only hard, but potentially dangerous and even life-threatening.
This season is the first time when people of Rapa all have proper houses and there was a huge difference that this made in the community. In the past, because of the sharp freezing cold of the winter, a child died, people would get sick and all would be depressed and live with no joy. Now, they feel safer, they have proper heating, they are protected from the elements and what an amazing change! They not only have good houses, but also a good and welcoming church where everybody can hear good Christian teaching, encouragement, hope and love.
At the same time, in other projects, we are under pressure with covering the costs with heating bills. The Homeless Container Village needs to cover extra costs with heating all the living areas and because the days are almost as cold as nights, when people get there in the evening they need hot water, warm rooms, and available heaters. The electricity bill really goes up quickly!
The Emergency Shelter is also in need for extra support for heating. The winter in that area is even worse and the wood that was supposed to last until March has already virtually gone. Even though we are trying to keep costs as low as we can, there are children in there who couldn’t do well without having warmer temperatures in their rooms and the last thing we’d want is to see is them getting sick.
Salard Community is suffering as well – that open field there presents no shelter for them against the freezing wind and they need to find ways to heat their containers and that is not always easy, or at times even possible. Wood has become increasingly expensive and this last month was a difficult challenge not only for Salard, but for many other poor villages like it, where many families are struggling. They have so little resources or even nothing at all and are dependent on help from friends such as Smiles.
This past month, past weeks actually, represented also a great challenge particularly for some of the families we have in our projects. Many of you will know them well and you might already be informed through our Facebook updates about their problems. Two weeks ago Violeta’s grandmother, from Gepiu, died and as she was the one to care for Violeta, it was very upsetting and unsettling news for us. Violeta moved with her aunt, but we are rather concerned with what the future holds for her.
Then, last week, Mr. Coman from our Container Village, who was also working there – part of the Smiles Team for the past few months, suffered a sudden and very bad stroke, he went unconscious and was taken to the hospital with the ambulance. Unfortunately, he never recovered and a couple of days later we’ve received the said news of his death. Coman Family is in our support list for many years and we’ve been assisting them from moving them from the homeless situation into our Village, with plans for future to move them into a house. We have seen them progressing and we grew to be friends and workers together and now we are together facing a difficult time and your support in prayer and will be greatly appreciated by lady Coman and the children.
So, I was thinking of having this brief update for you, about various issues in our projects. We are always trying to improve what we’re doing and to find new ways to help, new people and situations that need our attention. We are trying to do good and to offer a hand when needed. And above all, we’re trying to help people see and understand that God loves them so much that He is actually taking care of their needs. WE are happy to be the tools he uses and thank you for also being the same in His hands!
of Smiles Foundation Romania