Wednesday May 29th 2013 29/05/2013
My second full day in Romania.
I had a lovely morning visit with the charity Agape. They run the Beauty for Ashes programme of education and life skills all bound together with a lot of love for orphaned young people who have grown up in the state orphan system.
The welcome was warm - after I finally worked out how to open the slightly stiff gate! Jeta (social worker) kindly telephoned Gyonghy who is working in Italy for a few months and it was good to talk to her and hear all in well with her. (Gyonghy was one of the young people living in one of our sheltered apartments, who then left, went out on her own, and then moved into Agape's programme which has worked well for her. She always related very well to my late husband Phil, maybe he was the father or grandfather figure she felt she never had. I have kept in touch with her. It was Gyonghy who introduced Mustard Seed Jersey to Agape).
Today I learnt that Gyonghy is working with fruit and vegetables in Italy - it is hard work but the money is comparatively good. She hopes to be back in Romania in August. She simply could not live on what she was earning in Oradea, she had been working at a clothes factory but earned so little some months it was not enough to even pay her rent, let alone her food. If I understood correctly while the minimum wage per month is 700 lei take-home pay after taxes are paid - that is approx £140-£145 a month, some months she only received 100 lei which is only £20 a month.
A sad piece of news is that one of the other girls has left the Agape programme and is now hanging out with no-good company involved in a gang. That really disappointed me as I had had high hopes for her and thought she seemed to be doing well when i saw her in December living in her own small apartment and managing with her own job to live while keeping in close contact with Agape.
It was great to see Nadia who I have known since 2000. (She was also in one of our earliest sheltered apartments, she was independent and genuinely self sufficient financially till the recession hit and salaries dropped and she just could not survive financially, now she too is on the Agape programme). She gave me a crocheted brooch which they make to sell to raise funds - we carefully selected one the right colour to co-ordinate with what I was wearing. After doing their education programme, Nadia works for Agape making various accessories to sell, bow-ties for men, hair clips, brooches, etc for women, and some other girls make the greetings cards they sell. Nadia is now living independently in her own apartment and attending college to get extra qualifications to hopefully mean she should get a better paid job.
Funds from Jersey have purchased a new cutting machine for Agape's card business and they were showing me how it worked and gave me a special card to give to the donor. I shall have to check my records when I get home, but I am 95% certain it was money from Beaulieu Convent School that was used for that.
Did I tell you that when I arrived at Agape they were about to have a Bible study with the young people and asked if I would like to lead it for them. So I talked about being thankful even when things go wrong, knowing God is in over-all control. I used my own recent experience with the lorry accident - our first accident in over 17 years of sending out aid lorries, so over 100 aid trips, which must mean about 350,000 miles driven so we have much to be thankful for, and even with the recent accident thankful there was no serious injury, no loss of life, no prosecution or court case and the aid is now on its way to Romania, so we should be unloading tomorrow. (For those of you interested I used Romans 8 verse 28 and also the first few verses of Psalm 40).
In the afternoon and evening we went to see Geo and Simona, and learnt a fair bit more about her work in the repatriation of the victims of people trafficking, which I will share with you later.