Sunday, April 26, 2009

Aren't they gorgeous?

Here are the girls at Easter. Sarah and Elizabeth seem to be growing up over night! They are a joy to my heart.

Food Bank to the neighborhoods

Since I temporarily suspended having riots and blocking streets in the area of the Food Bank, I took the food out to poor neighborhoods. Here are a few of the pictures that Irene took.

The first photo shows Tibi and the van he and two friend brought to help. These people are rromi and were a tremendous help in preventing a neighborhood riot. If I did have a riot I do not imagine I would be able to get the Jandarme to come out there to help me!

The second is of one of the dirt roads in the area we visited. From the photos you can not see much of these shacks and the living conditions. To reach this "neighborhood" you have to leave a main road and wind through a maze of dirt paths and go through mounds of trash and garbage. All these houses are due to be bulldozed in the future - the land belongs to a university and all these people are squatters. A foundation here is working with the mayor to get a land grant so they will have a place to go. I have started searching for heavy canvas tents. This same foundation also has a day center and we need to meet so I perhaps can supply them with food boxes to distribute from their center.

The next is the site of a shack that had burned down just the night before. We are looking at helping with some materials to rebuild. The family that was burned out was a family that we had worked with many years ago.

The last photo is the crowd beginning to form around my truck - I am in the middle somewhere.

On Monday, with the help of those awesome high school volunteers, we will begin to assemble cartons and pack them for another distribution food for around 200 families.

I need to visit some other neighborhoods and assess the need. It is much more labor intensive and time consuming for me to have to do the distributions away from the Food Bank but the important thing is that we are getting the food out to hungry families.

I have previewed and edited this entry about 3 times but when it publishes it is totally different - I give up! I hope you can make sense of it.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Somewhat controlled chaos

Well it wasn't a full scale riot on Saturday at the food bank, and it wasn't totally out of control either so I thought that was progress. The Jandarme were there in force at 8:30, unfortunately the crowd seemed not to heed their instructions. I am not sure the word "orderly" is in most of these people's vocabularies. The street became blocked with more than 300 people. We tried to work out in the street to get the names and addresses but since there was no concept of forming a line we had to give up and move indoors with the Jandarme at the door. We took the information and gave out numbers. Then we gave out the boxes and collected all the numbers. As we were passing out numbers the Jandarme kept asking me if I was sure I had that many boxes. Yup I was!

While I was still across the street registering people a man opened a window above me and began yelling at me. He said "aren't you ashamed to be doing this?" No sir, I am not. "Why don't you go help orphans and Widows" I do sir. When he began to berate me for filling his neighborhood with Gypsies the Jandarme closest to me told him to shut up and close the window. Gee I couldn't have said it better myself.

We were able to give out food to more than 240 families, representing over 1000 people I would guess. We did of course have several that stay together trying for several boxes. These things are inevitable. I know there must be laws about causing these types of public disturbances and I have been grateful for the support I have received and not been arrested or fined. The Jandarme almost pleaded with me to find another way to do this. I posted a sign to suspend the distributions for now and am seeking another way. I know the centralized food bank is the answer, I am just not sure how to proceed.

I will be going to the local brick factory where poor people live in really appalling conditions and distribute food there this next Saturday. I want to contact a couple of different ministries that are working in a few poor areas and maybe partner with them for a period. A building without immediate neighbors would be really good, right now I am in a residential area. I am going to continue to buy and stock the food and prepare the boxes, not just distribute them from that building for now.

The need for food is huge here. The economy of Romania is in crisis as is in much of the world now, but so many people here were already on the edge. I am not going to give up because this is difficult - pray for this project!

Monday, April 6, 2009

This is Maria Calderas. I visited her today with food from the Widow's Mite program and money for her medicines. She was sorting through empty medicine boxes trying to find a few that may have still had a pill or two left. She is severely asthmatic as well having heart problems. She is no longer able to walk much so she has put on more weight. Due to her weight an old surgery site is tearing. She has no more clothes that fit her so I am going in search of a few items. In 2007 I had to get her underwear from the States as there is no really large sizes available here.

Help arrived

Three young ladies from a local high school arrived to help me pack boxes for the food bank. In two hours we had packed over 200! What a blessing they were. They also said they will be available to help again.