Travelogue Shoebox4Ro December 2019
On Wednesday December 11, 2019 we flew from Dortmund to Timişoara by plane. It was late in the evening when we got there. When we arrived at the children's home of Caritas in Peciu Nou, we were, like every time, warmly received by Ani and Radu Miron. The next morning we received the Dacia to start our journey through Romania. Because the truck was slightly delayed, we had enough time to drive to Sintea Mare. In the school of Sintea Mare we were received by Carmen Pavel, the principal. The truck of the Firm Hoftijzer from Lochem arrived at around 3 pm. It was quite a job to unload the school furniture, but with the help of a number of people on the spot, we succeeded. After Sintea Mare, it was Simon's turn. It had become completely dark by now, but with the help of flashlights and the spotlights of the car we managed to deliver a large amount of stuff here too.
Friday, December 13. In the morning we went to Sintea Mare to celebrate Christmas at the kindergarten and to hand out the first boxes. We also looked at the washing machine there, which we were able to realize last year with a financial contribution from the Warmte voor de Kinder foundation.
In the afternoon Laura Bejan took us to Arad, to Oaza Charity where Laura Andres is in charge. A shelter for children. Ms. Andres talked about how she got into poor relief and about her “own” children that she found at a station and later adopted and how this grew into a large relief organization. The children who visit this shelter receive a good healthy meal (something that is not a daily routine for many of these children), they receive homework support and are taken care of when their parents have to work. Before we each gave these children a box, we were sung with Romanian Christmas carols. The children were very happy and excited after seeing the contents of the boxes.
After this visit Mrs. Andres took us to some very poor families. The first family lived in a poorly maintained house consisting of a small kitchen and a spacious room with only a bed and a sofa. A young family with two small children lived here. We gave the children a present and we continued. The second family lived in a small house with a kitchenette
and a room of about 12m2. It was completely filled with things, sofas, beds and piles of clothes. The family consisted of a grandmother, a young mother with 4 children, of whom a small baby. It was not clear to us whether the father was still in the picture. Third, we would visit a family living in a shack on a building site. This cabin is very difficult to access. Ms Andres had been unable to contact these people. That is why we left the boxes for the children of this family with her. It was an impressive day. .
Saturday December 14 we went to Uileacu de Beius to visit Anita, a young woman with whom we have contact. Of course we went to a poor family with Anita. We visit this family every time we are in the area. We had brought two bags of groceries for them and a present for their 6 young children. The house (with us this house would be declared "uninhabitable") looks neat at the front. The facade is painted and there is a good fence around it. But appearances, as so often in Romania, are deceptive. As soon as you are through the gate, poverty screams towards you. The only improvement in this house was the "bathroom" that was constructed. The house consists of no more than a small room, where the whole family sleeps and lives and a small filthy kitchen with a comparable bathroom. It was shocking to see that the children had barely grown since our last visit (14 months earlier). Very worrying.
Sunday December 15. Today a tourist day / travel day. In the morning drove to Rosia to visit the water mill with its special miller. Of course we were treated to a tune on his stroh violin and blessed (for a fee of course, because you have to earn from foreigners). We went to Peciu Nou via a beautiful but long route through the mountains. It was a bright sunny spring-like winter day.
Monday December 16. With Gabriela Markov, whom Jos and André had met last year, we went to visit two kindergartens in Dinias and Sânmartinu Sârbesc. Because we still had a lot of boxes left, we went to some other kindergartens on the gamble in the nearby villages of Iohanisfeld, Guilvas and Ivanda. The teachers were pleasantly surprised and of course the children too. In the evening we had a nice evening with the children of the children's home and gave them our presents.
Tuesday, December 17. Our last full day in Romania. We had already delivered our boxes to the kindergarten of Peciu Nou yesterday and it was agreed that we would hand them out today. Unfortunately, this agreement fell apart. It was not possible to hand out the boxes themselves. A bit dazed we left.
Around noon we visited the "cantina sociala" of Caritas. A shelter home where older and needy people can eat or pick up a meal n where children who have nowhere to go after school can eat, do their homework and if necessary take a shower and get clean clothes. A nice project but sad that this is still necessary in 2019. In the afternoon we brought some boxes of clothing to a friend in Chaicova, which she will distribute among the poor.
Wednesday December 18. Pack your bags, to the airport and back home at the beginning of the evening. Tired and full of the impressions we had, we could all sleep wonderfully in our own bed this evening.
It was another busy program. Visited projects, brought things, brought gift boxes for the children to very poor families and much more. Romania a country of great contrasts. From horse and cart to Mercedes, from dilapidated slums to (dilapidated) gypsy palaces. From cordiality to gruff looks. But above all a lovely country where things are gradually improving, but often appearances are deceiving. Unfortunately, poverty is still too much and we cannot remove it. We're a tiny drop on a really big glowing plate, but knowing we've made a lot of kids happy this week, that's what we're doing it for.
We thought it inappropriate to take pictures of the misery of the poor families at home, we ask for your understanding.