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Community Aid Network
Brasov - Romania
Reteaua de Sprijin Comunitar


Mission to Eastern Europe si FAST in Tarlungeni

When you first enter Tarlungeni, it is easy to miss a whole community of people living their lives in extreme poverty. However, if you look carefully to the right as you cross the bridge over the Tarlung River, you slowly make out timber shacks in various forms of disrepair that house an entire Roma community of 1800 people. It is said that a journey of a thousand miles biginngs with one step. The team of 7 from Mission to Eastern Europe were to be the first group of volunteers to take that step into the community. The task for the week was to help one of the most needy families, Sorin & Lucica and their 9 children, lay the foundations for their new home.

This visit from the UK is part of the Better Homes Project, which the local charity FAST has recently started. The objective of this project is to help families in critical situations build better homes for thmeselves, thus improving their living conditions.

On the first day we arrived in Sorin`s yard, the site was full of rubble. It was hard to find even the space for a 9/5 metre house. Once cleared, armed with pick-axes and shovels, we started digging the foundations on what used to be the village rubbish tip. As the day progressed, the community spirit grew between the people of the village and MTEE volunteers. By the end of the day, we were working hand in hand with the family and neighbours. We really feel it was a privilege to be accepted and welcomed by the Roma people of Tarlungeni.

Contrary to public opinion of the Roma population, we found the people honest, friendly and hardworking. The sight of a barefooted young girl saving scrap from the glass-strewn rubble was very humbling. The family`s desire to have a new home has motivated team and family alike, giving them hope for the future.

Using improvised tools only, we were able to lay reinforced foundations. This included carrying water and stones from the river with a horse-drawn cart, cutting and bending steel rods and cables with a hand-made tool, mixing and pouring concrete into the shuttering using nothing much than shovels, wheelbarrows and a heaven sent cement mixer.

As the week progressed, the language barrier between the Roma and the volunteers just seemed to come down and we were laughing and joking together. During the week it was possible to take out children who have never left the village before, give them showers and new clothes, food, toys and even a trip to the zoo.

The team from England were greatly enriched by this experience and they felt they recieved more than they gave. However, each part of the new home is only built as funds become available. The team from Mission to Easter Europe plans to raise the funds needed to complete Sorin`s house. By faith, FAST has already started the foundations for two more homes which need financial support. The total cost of a home is 5500 Pounds (7800 Euro), offering shelter to a family of up to 10 children. This is particularly important during the long, harsh Romanian winter.

In the future, on the right when crossing the bridge over Tarlung River, you will see new houses rising for the people in this community. It is our belief that the Better Homes Project will change the face of the village forever.

Fundatia pentru Asistenta Sociala si Tineret (FAST)

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