Mission to clothe a child Moldova
This will be our second year involved with Operation orphan and what a privilege it is to be part of this mission.
Brad leads up the team and we help on the ground in Moldova with the preparations of receiving the good ,organising the schools to distribute, translation and hosting.
victor left to Moldova a week ahead of the team to ensure the schools were notified of the days we would come and to notify to all the pupils to come to the school during half term to receive a coat. The lorry arrived 2 days before the team flew out and victor was able to arrange help to unload the boxes to the appropriate places. Vasile Dinca from the charity Pro Lumina is amazing and he organises al the paperwork for the vama (customs) He himself is on mission in |Moldova originally Romanian serving the Lord in Moldova and running a place for children to come to hear about Jesus, play games and have a place warm to play at weekends, clothes distribution,shoe boxes , running summer camps and for the future running food kitchens. He has teamed up with Operation Orphan to make this possible ,with the paperwork been the most important aspect to be able to receive goods into Moldova, he does a great job of it
Myself and Charisse set off to Stansted on the Friday on the train ,struggling with cases through the underground (no lifts !) and arriving at Stansted Airport for the shuttle bus to take us to the Hotel for the evening. The hotel was comfy ,a tad expensive for meals so
Mc Donalds was the meal for the evening.
we woke at 04.30 to meet the team for 5.30 at the check in area, having never met the team before it’s always a little strange at first how the team will gel and how prepared they are for the up and coming mission. Charisse was happy to meet a girls close to her age , and they soon became friends. There were 3 adults who had brought their own children brads and his daughter Bethan aged 9 , Edward 13 and his dad Chris and Lucy 20 and her mum Judith.
It was nice to have a varied age range and for younger members to experience mission for themselves some for the first time.The team seemed really nice and I was looking forward to getting to know them, included in the team was Harriet,Nicki, Heather and Julia
The flight was uneventful and safely arriving in Chisinau 2 hours 40 minutes later, unsure of the weather has last year it was very cold we were greeted with warm sunshine. Victor met us with our usual minibus which we hire and Brad hired a car to drive ensuring the younger ones were in the car has they have seatbelts which the minibus doesnt! The drive to Cahul is not for the faint hearted , a 3 hour drive , 1 winding road for miles before heading through many villages it does drag. The start of the drive was pretty hairy as a lorry in front of us drove swaying from side to side for miles, unsure if it would topple over or not we looked on tensely finding the right opportunity to take it over in a safe place . Having taken over the lorry it wasn’t long before the police stopped us , apparently speeding ! The law in Moldova is to drive at 50 km Hr once in a village but the sign to slow down is way before you enter the village and gives you time to slow down ,however we had not slowed down quickly enough and the police were on our cases. Victor got out to talk to the officer on the other side of the road and I went to talk to the officer who was approaching brads car. The police wanted to fine us and give us points on our license I was able to translate to The officer why we were in the country and that we had slowed down but not enough and that we would accept we had to pay a fine, The officer did not want us to pay the fine , he had another option instead of a fine? a bribe a cash in the hand and he would let us go! Victor of course understood this and challenged the officers telling them as Christians this would be a sin and we would be making the police officers sin my accepting the bribe. Thank God the police felt convicted and replied that we were doing a good deed for our Country and he let us all go! Praise God phew!! Corruption is everywhere in the country and it is very difficult to escape the grasps of it you have to be really strong to refuse and accept the consequences that may be ahead.
Safely arriving at Cahul the team headed for the hotel Azalia and our evening meal was of course at the one and only ….. Andy’s pizza, of course the food is safe and everyone enjoyed a warm meal before heading to bed. We of course are staying with my parent in-laws and it was nice to catch up with them again and feel at home in the comfort of the house we know well. The peace and darkness are amazing and woken up to the cocks crowing is a familiar sound, the bed not so comfy but in all a good night.
Sunday was the teams day of rest so they were able to go round the market and shops in the morning and see local people doing their shopping and take in the
we met for lunch and we took the team to Pascani to meet my parent in laws and enjoy the local taste of Moldavian home-made food; stuffed vine leaves and peppers( Sarmali,and Piper (Ciper) umpluti) . lamb stew with potatoes (Tocanita) and homemade juice (Compot) cherry and raspberry.everyone ravished it up ,it was so tasty and homely no one left hungry.
Obviously to burn it off as a tradition we take people round the village to see a bit of real Moldavian life, first letting them look round victors parents home before heading off through the village. It was nice to see people out and say hello to people I know and enjoy the familiarity of the place. People are so interested in life that is different from theirs ,everyone took photos. We also drove to manta and Crihana village to show the team where we would be distributing weekly clothes.
An evening meal at Rafaelos then to bed up early for breakfast before distribution 9 am sharp
The plan was to give out clothing in manta school and nursery day 1 and 2 , day 3 and 4 in Crihana schools in nursery and day 5 to go to Cotihana school. The distribution was planned methodically and organised so that we have an hour to prepare the room laying out tables and makeshift tables out of empty cardboard boxes and organising coats into ages 7-8.9-10,10-11 13 upward and in nursery 2-3 ,-4-5, 5-6 .The Moldavian volunteers are the young people who Victor and discipled they go to the churches in manta and Pascani , other volunteers came from the local church in Crihana . This however makes communication difficult and every instruction had to be repeated in English and Romanian so everyone was doing the same thing.We did have two moldavian young people who had recently moved back from America to Pascani who helped out with communicationjust as well as it can be very tiring for Victor and myself , though victor did the main translating ,I translated on a 1-1 basis which makes it less stressful than to a whole group.
Children on half term leave came and lined up patiently for coats hats scarves and gloves and if there were a jumper, trousers they could choose them, each child was taking with a member of the team round to choose their own coats, we were given 10 minutes per child in order for us to get through the vast amount of children we had. You didn’t stop and it was very satisfying seeing a child’s face light up when they took their bag loaded with clothes home, some children especially in nursery were petrified as they was taken out of class down the corridor with a stranger to take a coat, it was traumatic for them and many cried, this everyone found difficult. There were many needy children and we had a social worker with us who was able to determine which family were especially needy and we were able to give extra clothing as they were lacking and very poor. Family sizes range from 1 child to 10 children in a family! these were from the poorest of backgrounds. many Children had very thin layers on and were unkempt. Some children were well dressed and were more particular with which coat they wanted and some refused coats but none left with nothing ,some just took hats and gloves, one lad in particular wanted a cap and another wanted fingerless gloves as they were the fashion ! teenagers seemed more picky and took a long time debating what scarves and gloves to choose, people have been so generous in England hundreds even a thousand hats were available there was a great choice of hats !! The biggest fashion craze for the primary age was the Gillet (sleeveless padded jacket) if you have any please donate to operation orphan the kids love them !
The team work very well together and soon built up relationships with the moldavian team and everyone had fun. trying on silly hats and scarves was a must and they must of tried on dozens of hats on.
lunch time was a joint effort and couple of the team every day would use the nursery or school facilities to make sandwiches and put out crisps and make drinks. This would include the Moldavian team so making sandwiches for up to 20 or more people ham and cheese for all around. The schools and nurseries were very accommodating allowing us to not only use their facilities but they were kind enough to serve us with cheese pie they had baked and presented us with a colac an specially prepared bread from the local bakery and a basket of local fruit. this is a very special thing to do we were very honoured, it was nice to share with the teachers a little about ourselves as well.
distribution finished between 1pm -2.30 pm depending on the amount of clearing after .we never had too much spare time on our hands and Brad always found something for us to do, for instance delivering boxes of clothes to the nurseries, taking clothing to poor families who may not be in the nursery allocated . we had the opportunity to meet with the head of social services and donate boxes of clothes which are needed to clothe foster family children ,children who are taking into care and need clothing or for abandoned children found on the streets. we looked round the childrens special needs school which has basic facilities but it is warm and broght and the children are well cared for. we visited the mother and baby unit which homes mums in need who have given birth recently who may ne underage ,vulnerable or abused. as well as older mums who are escaping violent relationships, this was a another wellestablished set up and funded by people abroad. keep a child warm The mission is developing at a fast speed and Brad would like to look at distribution further afield, in August we did an evangelistic event in Nicolaivca and Gavanoasa 20 -25 minutes away from Cahul.These villages are very near and all children attend one school, this will be our project to distribute clothing and warm coats for next year and will include surrounding villages. It was nice to go back to where we had been in the summer and to be able to build a link and knowledge of who we are and what we stand for. We , victor and I are serving God and our vision for Moldova is evangelism, giving to the needy and showing love which in cooperation with Operation Orphan is their goal and that is to clothe a child and keep them warm and that is exactly what we as a team are doing . Who is ready for next year !??
Evening meals were always eaten out in either Andy’s pizza or Rafaelo, as the menus are in Moldavian or Russian Victor and I would have to translate the whole menu,a little tiring and tedious at times. Menus are long and they give you 2 menus between 13 people so you are shouting across tables and one person decides not to listen and asks you to explain again what I had just said or what does cheesecake mean !!! by the 3rd day people have got a gist of the menu and can manage it themselves, majority of people are adventurous and try different things on the menu, others just play safe and its Marguerite pizza again ! Mountain dew was a popular luminous fizzy drink and pizza Diabolo Andy’s favourite pizza spicy hot. we attempted Rafaelos one evening and they gave us a private room to ourselves no smoking and spacious ,the 2nd time the room upstairs was full of people smoking pipes of vapour something they had promised would not happen! so we spent the rest of the week at Andy’s Pizza ,gets a little boring after a bit but everyone loves the fact it has WiFi !
The Moldavian people are very proud people and they would manage without support but the increasingly high cost of living in Moldova puts many people under the poverty line and hundreds or more families live with one family member working abroad to bring money in to feed the family and build a home for them and fund an education. Others do not want to leave their country and struggle on with a measly salary from 1000 lei a month for a job in a cafe or cleaner to a Director of school whose salary is around 5000 lei in our money this is £166 a month ! heating, fuel and clothing cost the same as England food slightly cheaper,still to feed a large family, clothe them give them a roof on their heads is very expensive. They have 500 lei from the government for a child and unemployment benefit does not exist . We as a team came to the realisation of how much it cost when the head of Social services asked for our assistance to clothe a child in need orphaned with complex disabilities who had only the clothes on his back. Brad organised this and new clothes were bought for the boy. A coat ,hat, underwear,night-clothes socks and boots and trainers, all cost £130 or more, if a parent had to clothe 2 children the cost would be double and if they had more ………. If an average salary is between 1000 and 5000 lei them to fully clothe one child would be one families monthly or 2 -3 months salary !
the highs and lows of the trip were many. I would assume looking over the week the highlights have been the great bonding that formed very early on with the English team and the Moldavian team ,that was established early, even with some language barriers. The fact that each child received a hat gloves scarf and no one was left out. the weather was good ,last year it was minus 5 and it proved difficult , when it rains the villages are a mud bath so we had dry weather. The food was excellent, no one was ill, the positive response from parents ,teachers and children ,one teacher thanked us as her daughter had found clothes for what she needed, even teachers struggle to clothe their children. The mayor of Manta thanked us all for the help and support to the community and ministers rang to thanks us in helping the needy people of Moldova. The promise that next year we can do it all again and keep a child warm.
The things to consider from the trip not lows , the police stopping us and the corruption that is so obvious in Moldova, The sheer desperation of teachers and staff who wanted to choose clothing for their families before we had distributed to the school children as they also had a need, and the fact that it is so expensive to clothe a child that some children would have been without this year if Operation Orphan had not intervened. That children are abandoned and are in a desperate state and need a home or a foster family. Toilets is an issue, majority of loos are outdoor hole in the ground toilets as sanitation is poor. they come in different conditions, from very clean to hold your nose ,don’t breath (bad toilet), learning to squat and hold tissues in your hand was a challenge for the ladies. I do believe they got the knack of it by the end of the week.
I thank all the English team for their sheer hard work and dedication and for giving up their time and money to come out and help the children of Moldova, for the young people of Moldova, Manta,Pascani ,Crihana who gave their time do Gods work and help, the future generation. you did fantastically well and I hope and pray that some of you may consider another year to come and help with the distribution, carry on the work tell people about the charity and lets encourage more and more people to donate coats, donate money and support the work of Operation Orphan.
More photos of the schools and nurseries