Report:

Impressions from a visit to Romania

Three villages – one success story

by Cecilia Homilius/Damien Marion, 2019/10/08

There are no sealed roads. Accommodations do neither have power supply nor running water. It is hard to believe that we are visiting a member state of the European Union. Here in Romania, on the outskirts of the big city Cluj-Napoca, a Roma village is situated between waste disposal sites. With about three per cent Roma people are the second largest minority in Romania. The scenario described above does not correspond with the overall impression of the country. But it illustrates that the people living on the border of society do not benefit from the country´s prosperity.

Especially children like Darius, who benefits from our Christmas campaign, suffer from poverty. Photo: Paul Sandor

That is the reason why humedica brings donations in kind to Romania. Our partner and supply goods receiver Prison Fellowship Romania (PFR) has set itself the task to help communities to break the cycle of poverty with its so-called “Commune Aid Program”. We are here to meet three Roma village communities, who take part in this initiative. Our first impression: Living conditions could hardly be more different.

In the first settlement, which we would describe as a slum, the air is dusty and feels unpleasable. This is due to the lack of a sewage system, but also to the surrounding landfill sites. Not accidentally, as collecting and selling waste is the main source of income for the people living here. Most inhabitants have had none or only very little schooling. The living conditions are disastrous and security standards are low. A few months ago, a house was set on fire when children played with firecrackers

In this video an affected woman reports how our relief efforts work:

Only few meters away there is another settlement, which is even worse off. There the inhabitants eat the waste they find at the disposal sites.

Our partner explains that the collaboration with the community is difficult. People do not follow the rules they have agreed upon. As a consequence, they only receive help for individual families or in case of emergency. Each Roma settlement has a community leader, who acts as interface between aid organization and inhabitants. Therefore, he has a key role in the process to improve the living conditions of the whole village. Common prejudice says that the Roma people have chosen to live like this – it´s part of their culture and therefore these people can not be helped.

Afterwards we visit a second village and we realize that this statement can not be true. Here in Pojana houses and apartments do have running water, power supply and a functioning sewage system. Parts of the street have recently been sealed. Currently, they are discussing and testing the installation of a waste management system for the village. The inhabitants have jobs, which pay better.

In parts, people live in very poor conditions. Photo: Paul Sandor

They were able to leave poverty behind. Naturally, they have needed time and stamina to do so. For ten years now they are part of the Commune Aid Program.

Here, the inhabitants have realized the advantages of the changes and appreciate their new living conditions. At the same time, they preserve their cultural riches and their close community. The most important keys in this development have been the various „set screws“ and a supporting network.

We at humedica are proud to have been able to support this development with our donations in kind. At the same time we pay our respect to the community leader, who is noticeably concerned with the wellbeing of his village. He has been able to convince and motivate time and again all village members to pitch in and to help each other.

Together we can bring back smiles to the faces of the children. Photo: Paul Sandor

The last village we visit is situated very remotely near the city of Aiud. It was recently appointed to join the „Commune Aid Program“. Together with the community leader also Juliana and her husband receive us with open arms. Thanks to the cooperation of PFR and humedica a few years ago they had received a wheelchair, which they appreciate very much. The village leader tells us that since two years a school bus comes to the remote settlement, but the children do still not attend school. He explains that they lack school materials and appropriate clothing. We are not so sure that this is the only reason, but we note it down nevertheless.

We would love to convince enough people of the Commune Aid Program concept in order to bring the village near Aiud to the same level as the settlement in Pojana.

We invite you to engage yourself. Support us with your donation and make our supply aid possible.

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