Friday April 15th 2011 + some reflections
I slept really well last night – must have been my best night’s sleep since coming to Romania. I slept through Tom arriving back apparently around midnight or just before.
He told us all about it over breakfast. He had been out with Alex and Dan to try to buy a new second hand tractor for use on the land here. The plough that we brought over in the aid consignment is too large for the little tractor we donated a couple of years ago, and someone else has recently donated money to buy a larger tractor – the aim is that the tractor and implements could be hired out with a driver to bring in some income for Mustard Seed Romania projects.
At breakfast Tom told us of his experiences going to various places to try to find a suitable tractor. The one they set out to see proved totally unsuitable with an obvious oil leak that the owner was trying to hide. More miles, more badly maintained main roads, more steep winding lanes up the mountainsides, more bumpy tracks later, three or four more disappointments and finally they heard of another tractor via the internet and after apparently an unbelievable trip into the back of beyond they found another farm which had an ideal tractor for sale for a reasonable price. Happy days the deal was made.
It’s been a quiet restful day for us personally with no distributions but visits to friends and an encouraging though challenging report back session about the aid distribution to victims of people trafficking. [This is the one set of recipients I do not ask to meet as I appreciate the need for security of these victims who are already traumatised enough].
Today in the afternoon Phil and I met with Geo and Simona. We were able to talk with Simona briefly about her work with assisting repatriated victims of people trafficking. She explained that since January she has been involved with 30 new victims, some as young as 11 years of age! (I was shocked at that young age). She spoke of how some victims were kidnapped in the street and sent to such places as Austria, Czech Republic, France also England – yes ENGLAND for either labour or sexual exploitation. She said there are now a similar number of male victims. She spoke of one young woman sold by her mother and gang raped by 20 men – this is one of the traumatised victims she is assisting. She encouraged us by explaining how important the material aid we send them is. She told us the need is very great as often the victims literally have only what they stand up in when they come back, so our Welcome Boxes have been a huge help and are often the first contact. Simona explained that although Romanian other trusts work with the victims counselling and offering psychological help, it is basically only the material aid from Mustard Seed that is available for distribution and is highly valued. Simona said simply “It helps so very much if I can give them something practical as well as advice; it builds up their trust in me”.
Sadly the rate of convictions of the traffickers (who exploit the victims) is very low, there have only been 5 successful convictions since 2009.
On a lighter note - this morning we spoke to Michel and Thomas on the phone they are in Germany, and should be back in St Malo tomorrow (Saturday) afternoon. I haven’t heard from them tonight as I write this diary.
I got thinking about it all in the shower - about how refreshing it was / is for me to take people like Michel and Thomas who are completely new to poverty come to visit the homes here of the poorest of the poor. They both saw and were shocked and moved by things like the broken windows, the outside toilets, no running water in the school building, the cracks and holes in the mud brick dwellings that although I still see these things I am no longer shocked because I have seen it so many times before. When they saw people living in single rooms with no more than a stove and bed, desperate for a bag of donated food, they were distressed and moved to tears, unable to believe that this is happening in Europe, in the EU, but now they have seen it with their own eyes and know it is real.