Most of the young people emigrate abroad. The elderly are left on their own and have to live off farming. Photo: humedica/Andrea Trautmann
People like Vitaly, Tamara and Olga make the difference
The Republic of Moldova is a landlocked country in South East Europe, which borders on Romania and the Ukraine. Its population mainly lives off farming and the agricultural industry. In spite of all efforts, the Republic of Moldova is one of the poorest and least developed countries in Europe.
While these conditions prompt many young people to emigrate abroad, the elderly, in particular, are left on their own. Due to the country’s financial weakness, social insurance programs offered by the state are insufficient. The quality of medical care is not comparable to Western standards.
Yet even in this poorhouse of Europe, like in most countries and regions worldwide, there are people who dedicate their lives to helping others. People who get involved to help those who cannot provide for themselves out of their own strength and resources.
Vitaly and Tamara Paunov are two of these committed people. They founded the aid centre called Gloria in the small town of Ceadir Lunga and thus bring hope and practical help to those who need it most. On a regular basis, they receive supplies sent by the humedica work field of relief supply assistance. At the end of June, Andrea Trautmann, head of this field of work at the humedica headquarters in Kaufbeuren, travelled to Gagauzia to get a picture of the current situation.
“It takes us three hours by car to cover the 136 kilometres between the capital city of Chisinau and Ceadir Lunga. On the way there, we pass lots of farms. Maize, corn, sunflowers, rape and herds of goats characterize the landscape on the way to the aid centre Gloria, which was founded by Vitaly Paunov and his wife Tamara and has since been lovingly administered by the couple. Their support programme is very comprehensive, as are the relief supplies regularly arriving here from humedica.
The health post – one of the work fields of Gloria – consists of a pharmacy, a room for physiotherapy, three examination rooms and a room for taking blood samples and changing bandages. Furthermore, there is a dining room and a spacious kitchen where meals are prepared for the needy.
Medical aid is delivered by five internal specialists, a cardiologist, two paediatricians, a doctor for diagnostics, a nurse and three laboratory assistants. Furthermore, the staff of the health centre includes a pharmacist, a physiotherapist and two social care nurses, who can provide home care as well, if needed.
The medical professionals work at the Gloria centre for four hours on three days in a week. They usually treat about 100 patients in a day. There is a rise in the number of patients in winter when heating is too expensive and many people therefore suffer colds. The patients, who are of all age groups, benefit enormously from the free treatment offered at the centre, which represents their only access to medical care in general.
In addition to providing free medical care, the Gloria centre hands out 180 free lunch meals every day. Needy people can receive these meals from late morning onwards. In winter, the staff even delivers meals to people’s homes, since snow and icy conditions make it impossible for them to reach the aid centre on foot.
Apart from these people who obtain a free lunch at the centre or at their homes, the inhabitants of several other facilities also benefit from the centre’s comprehensive aid programme. The Gloria staff also delivers warm meals to the patients of a nearby hospice that is currently supporting five persons on their last journey as well as to the inhabitants of several affiliated group homes and a shelter for homeless people.
The homeless shelter, which was founded in 2009, is currently home to 16 men. Two of them have suffered a particularly severe blow to their health: they had to have both legs amputated. Without Gloria, their future would look very bleak.
To be entitled to benefit from the offers of the aid centre, the inhabitants have to stick to certain rules: firstly, they must neither smoke nor drink. Secondly, they are expected to help with the works that have to be done in the house or garden and not to receive help without giving anything in return. In two other homes, twelve women and 15 men have found shelter from poverty and from the harsh reality of not being able to provide for themselves on their own.
Next to the main building of Gloria, there is a kindergarten. Like the facilities mentioned above, the kindergarten also receives relief supplies from humedica and Christmas parcels in the framework of the campaign “Gifts from the heart”. Clothes donations and the distribution of blankets are also a part of the humedica aid programme. To see how the relief goods originating from our headquarters are used here in such a responsible way fills me with joy and confirms to me that our work really makes a difference.
On the last morning before I travel on to Romania, I remember that Tamara told me several times about an elderly woman living in the neighbourhood and receiving meals from Gloria. Spontaneously, I walk over to the neighbouring house to meet Olga. According to Tamara, she must be an extraordinary lady.
In spite of the early hour, the 73-year-old lady is already working in her garden, sweeping. I greet her and she opens the high metallic gate immediately. I try to communicate both in German and using my hands and feet and somehow it works. Olga seems very satisfied and welcomes me very kindly.
Then, Tamara joins us and Olga invites us to see her house. She no longer lives in the actual house, which has six rooms – it is too big for her and the heating costs in winter would be much too high. Yet there is another very small house on the property with two narrow rooms only. This is where she lives now and she says that it is sufficient for her. As she has done for many years, she still does some tailoring, thus supplementing her little pension. Apart from that, she grows fruit and vegetables, which she preserves for the winter so that she has to spend almost nothing on food.
Her garden seems to contain a bit of everything: tomatoes, grapes, plums, walnuts, apples, cherries, cucumbers, raspberries, different kinds of vegetables like carrots, potatoes, onions, leek and courgette. All of that helps her to save money a part of which she has already used to do some renovation works on her little house.
For 40 years, Olga has done sewing with her hand-operated sewing machine, which she shows me with pride. The machine runs quietly and smoothly, it is in an excellent state. At Olga’s, everything is very neat and tidy.
The old woman has health problems on both knees. She has to use a walking stick. And yet, she gets up very early and works in the garden or sews the whole day long. Olga is an impressive woman. She is clever, hard-working and humorous and has a life-affirming attitude. She works, saves and invests prudently. She is a wonderful example of the fact that hard work and courageous action can make a difference even in conditions of poverty.”
With your donation, dear friends and sponsors, you can make a contribution to our work field of relief supply assistance. Please support people like Olga, who are doing their best to provide for themselves, but still need our help. Thank you!
humedica e. V.
Reference “Relief supply assistance“
Account 47 47
Bank Code 734 500 00