May 2010: Newsletter

Hello to all our friends and supporters!

It’s been some time since we have written so there’s lots to update you on!

It seems a long way away now, but the weeks leading up to Christmas are always a very busy time for Hands of Hope Romania. Christmas 2009 was no exception and thanks to a very hard-working group of volunteers, coordinated by our secretary Jean, we managed to send a staggering total of 520 shoebox presents over to Jibou, predominantly for those from the Roma community. This was a fantastic effort on behalf of all concerned and was an increase of nearly 200 presents from last year. It’s perhaps hard for us to appreciate, living within our consumerist society, that many children in other places do not get anything at Christmas. Within the Roma community many of the children would receive nothing other than the gifts we sent, so thank you to all the people who have given up valuable time to organise and pack the boxes, people who made donations of items, schools that supported us such as St Edmunds, and the individuals who regularly donate money that helps send them. A big thank you because without your support, we couldn’t send anything!

The shoeboxes get taken to Romania on a lorry, after being put in bigger boxes to be transported. We are indebted to Chris Mutch who drives the lorry, only charging us the actual physical transport costs, with no charge for his time and effort.

We had hoped that the shoeboxes would be given out in Jibou during the time Jean Rudin, our secretary, and Karen Brown, Trustee, were visiting just prior to Christmas, but unfortunately the school closed early for Christmas due to an outbreak of illness, so Rodica and Solomon gave the presents out before they arrived at school as it is not possible to give the gifts out within the community as this can cause chaos!

Jean and Karen were however able to take part in the last children’s group before Christmas when we all made cards together. They were also able to catch up on all the other activities of HoHR that regularly take place such as the widows food parcel programme, along with getting the shopping in for the next few months!

This was Jean’s first visit to Romania. She writes…

My shock at the circumstances in the Roma Community was raw. Their needs are immense. The slums of Mumbai have a parallel to this community. Children appear out of dilapidated hovels into the waste and sewerage of the dirtways and roads, which are their play areas. The widows arrive with lined and haggard faces to receive a food parcel. Accidents are frequent. Poverty is abundant. Poor health and disease widespread. Jealousy and distrust abound. Survival is paramount. Jobs are scarce. Cost of living and healthcare is high. Inclusion into Romanian society is slow and inadequate with hostilities both socially, educationally and culturally.

And yes, on that bumpy road it is easy to put a distance between us, and say "I am going home.” But, memories remain. The homes I saw are pitiful. The eyes of the children and the touch of the widows compelling.
We are faced with many obstacles and setbacks in our work. There are many challenges to overcome. But, I am encouraged by the support of our friends in Hands of Hope Romania. I believe our hands can bring light into a dark place. I have a conviction to return to show we care.

The seasons have been whizzing by and Jean was so taken by Jibou that she decided to visit again at Easter time with one of our Trustees Sarah White, who was making one of our regular visits to Jibou. It’s fair to say the weather was a bit warmer than December! Sarah and Jean were able to catch up with some of the families we support and with our volunteers in Jibou. Easter is a very important time in Romania and Sarah and Jean were able to share this time with others.

In considering the future it is clear that some changes will need to be made with regard to how HoHR is organised in Romania; like many charities we seem to have been affected by the world-wide recession, and our finances are being squeezed which means reviewing our activities. There’s also change of a different kind on the horizon as one of our longest serving Romanian volunteers, Lacry, is getting married in the summer which will mean her moving away from Jibou. We’re not quite sure yet how this will affect HoHR, but it will mean significant change for Lacry!

If you are a person of faith, please pray with us as we consider the best ways we can continue to serve the people of Jibou in this time of change.

Sarah will be visiting Jibou again during the summer months, along with a colleague, Debra, and we look forward to hearing all about their trip!

Thank you for all your support in whatever way you give; it is vital to enable us to keep serving this deprived and disadvantaged community.

The Hands of Hope Romania team x


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