At regular intervals, we travel to Germany and Austria to collect tons of goods to distribute among institutions and needy families here in Judetul Bacau. The aid usually consists of a variety of needs: dry food, medical needs such as motorized hospital beds and wheelchairs, plus clothing, shoes, baby equipment, computers, and bedding.
Much of the clothing and toys are gathered through our kindergarten partnership programs. We partner with five kindergartens in Germany participating in this project. The German parents and children involved have a personal connection with the orphan or children here in Romania who receive their gifts. The photos and letters we send them from the Romanian children are posted on the walls of the kindergartens.
We personally distribute all the goods that we bring into the country, first visiting larger orphanages and handing out needs directly to the children. Our people will work together with some of the orphanage staff to help all of the children find suitable shoes and clothing. Additionally we donate sets of sheets and towels to institutions in Bacau County, which now includes thousands of beds in various orphanages and hospitals.
We visited the surgery section of the county hospital to view the installation of the 10 motorized hospital beds that we’d donated. In the hall were some of the old beds that had been replaced by ours. Seeing the terrible condition of these old rickety beds, it was hard to believe that they had actually been in use as recently as they had! They were a type of old army bed that is common in many institutions here, with a mesh of thin metal strips to support the mattress. But on most of these old beds, the mesh was missing, or totally rusted out, with pieces of cardboard covering the holes. (See photo to right)
Motorized hospital beds have been donated to the reconstructive surgery section of the main county hospital, along with many walkers and crutches. Additionally we pass on wheelchairs to centers for severely handicapped children and amputees. Sometimes we outfit schools with desks, chairs and other school furniture.
We also distribute packages of food, clothing, bedding, and toys to needy families who are very poor and many live in extreme hardship conditions. We visit their homes, bringing the goods and as much encouragement as we can. Along with blankets and warm clothes, the families each receive on the average 35 kilos (77 pounds) of food — basic supplies of rice, flour, semolina, and powdered potatoes — so it’s quite a significant help.
After our distribution at the orphanages, we usually still have left significant supplies of clothing and shoes for adults and young children. What we do at that point is set up a “Free Store,” where poor people come and select things they need. We work out a plan with the City Hall Department of Social Assistance, who typically supply a place for a few days and gave us lists of needy people. If there are 100 families on the list, we’ve come to expect that at least double that amount will show up! We have devised a system of coupons, whereby each family coming into the shop would be authorized to select a certain quantity of clothes, depending on the size of their family.
By the time the Free Store is set up and ready to open for business, a crowd is gathered outside the door. For three days it becomes the most popular shop in the city! We often enlist policemen as fulltime guards, to help us maintain order. Volunteers from the social assistance department and some of our girls from the transitional home assist our FAVOR team.
Violeta (in left photo) and Iona (in right photo), both orphans from our transitional home, helping people with clothing.
As we said earlier, we make an effort to directly distribute all aid that we bring into the country, and that is oftentimes done very personally! For example, one time we received 65 tons of canned food from Austria – three huge trucks full! There was no way we could distribute these 57,000 cans and jars house to house. Still we followed through on our policy of distributing this directly to needy families. With the help of local officials, we organized distribution days in the cities of Bacau, Comanesti and Tirgu Ocna. The food was given out in proportion to the number of members in each family. Some folks brought horse-carts to transport the food for all their needy neighbors. In total, this food was a blessing to over 6000 people in 950 needy families, two nursing homes and 18 placement centers.
Another example concerns donated computers. We not only deliver the hardware to the recipient institutions, but also set them up and install software, plus teach the folks how to use them. Otherwise, they would probably end up sitting unused for months.
We also deliver aid packages to needy families who we have identified in the surrounding area. Working together with the Child Protection department and the Social Assistance offices, we receive information about each of these families and prepare aid packages accordingly. Each family receives on average two large boxes of clothes, bedding, toys and 24kg (53 pounds) of rice. We witness a lot of extremely difficult situations – people who are just struggling to survive, scavenging sticks for fuel, and so on. They are all extremely grateful for the help we bring, as well as for the time we spend sharing the Gospel with them, including passing out New Testaments and other literature.