Today has been a very different, very tiring but really rewarding day. It began early getting ready for the official opening of the pensioners home which is called Casa Mabel.
The ceremony began at 9.30 in the morning with a brief introduction from Alex, followed by a short speech from me in which Alex had asked me to explain the history of Mustard Seed Jersey, how I set it up over 11 years ago, how we have taken aid to 7 different countries in Eastern Europe and now do work mainly in Romania in the Bihor county, not just with Mustard Seed Romania but also with other trusts, some of whom were there among the guests. I also explained the significance of the name “Casa Mabel”, how 2 years ago a Jersey pensioner called Mabel on hearing of the project gave us our first donation which was 1% or one hundredth of the total amount needed, how she promised her prayers and in answer to many prayers now to our amazement and joy, in spite of the financial problems within 18 months the total amount was raised and the house finished within 24 months.
After I spoke the previous mayor and present member of parliament spoke and said how thrilled he had been to see the commitment to support those in need congratulating both Mustard Seed Jersey and Alex and Rody Stroie of Mustard Seed Romania for their vision and continued support to achieve the better things over the years.
Then Flori spoke about how much Mustard Seed has meant to her - with her medical problems and the tiny medical pension she found herself unable to pay rent and ended up on the streets – it was then Rody Stroie heard of her and met her and from that point Flori’s life changed for good, she now has a secure home and people who love and care for her around her.
Then the new mayor spoke and again he praised our outreach to those in need saying it should not just be us but is the responsibility of all. He wished us well and God’s blessing. Then Nelu Micola prayed for the new home (he is the supervisor of the home and his wife Mariana teaches at the kindergarten). I then was asked to cut the ribbon and declare that Casa Mabel was open.
From Phil’s and my point of view it was wonderful to see the other Romanian trusts we work with all attending the ceremony. All spoke very favourably of the end product over refreshments after they explored the building.
Casa Mabel is not exclusively for pensioners but for people who need some help. Already Flori (who is a medical pensioner) is living there upstairs and with her 5 other young women all with a history of trauma and hurt. It was expected that 2 elderly pensioners would move in immediately the home opened but one is in hospital, one is coming on Wednesday after all the paperwork requirements have been completed. One who will move in on Wednesday came to the opening ceremony and is quite over-joyed to be able to come here – she is sleeping in the shelter in Oradea at the moment as she has nowhere to live with a £70 a month pension of which she needs over one third for her diabetic medication. Each morning she is turned out onto the streets at . She seems a sweet elderly lady who embraced me very warmly and spoke at length to me in Romanian!
We then had a bazaar at . To raise money (on this occasion for wood for the winter for the complex here) Alex hoped to raise approaching £200 and amazingly over that amount was raised. He was keen that Phil and I should be high profile so all the villagers would know that we approved of it and that it was not a case that Alex was selling aid without our knowledge. In actual fact we allocate a small amount of the aid (maybe 1 or 2% of the total) for Alex to sell to raise money. But knowing how damaging rumours can be Alex wanted to be sure there could be no doubt of our approval of these occasional bazaars.
The bazaar (which I would say is more similar to a car boot sale) benefits the villagers as most could never afford to buy new items but often there are new items for sale. The prices charged are very low for items of clothing etc – usually about 40p. But people say the quality of the clothes we send is much higher than anything they can buy here.
The weather was so kind to us! It was raining yesterday but sunshine this morning though quite chilly. It shone all through until about 10 minutes before we planned to stop the bazaar when the sky darkened and then it was a rush to get everything under cover before the rain came and it has drizzled all evening so the crops and the garden are rejoicing.
Tomorrow we will leave after church and lunch. So this is my last diary of the trip, as I do not expect to write one tomorrow. We hope to sleep at Hegyeshalom tomorrow night (Hungarian border with Austria) and into France the following night, then St Malo and my parents mobile home by Tuesday evening and back to Jersey on Thursday evening.
It has been a fabulous trip. It has been utterly fantastic to see Casa Mabel completed and open. It is lovely to stay here at Cefa – not just the surroundings but being with the girls and seeing how they have relaxed and matured in these less stressful surroundings. We will be sad to leave and are already thinking of what a very long time it is till our next planned trip in December .