“I am used to being exposed to abject poverty I have seen much of everything working with People against Poverty. As a trauma therapist working with adult survivors of sexual abuse I think I have heard the darkest secrets a soul could possess. I am not hardened, I am experienced and self-protected. Yet there is always something new that shocks me to my core, that draws my tears, that sickens me, that calls on me to re-evaluate, to scream internally; “Am i doing enough” ?
I am invited into X’s (name witheld) house and by some standards of the ghettos we have worked in, it is quite good as it appears to be waterproof and very warm while the temperature outside is -5, although winter has not set in. It will reach –20 . It’s difficult to breathe as this one room dwelling has a stove burning old leather shoes and cardboard that pushes out a stench and fumes that cling to my lungs. It’s getting dark and I can just make out mum lying on an old mattress. It’s filthy, she appears filthy; wrapped in some old blanket clearly ill. She has a fever and is shaking and can just mutter a few words under her breath. She looks at first glance in her 60’s; I am told she is in her mid thirties. I look for the sign of any medication, there is none. She has no access to a doctor or no money for medicines. To her right are two children about 5 and 9 sitting glaring at me on a disgustingly dirty mattress, they themselves so dirty they blend in with the dirt. I turn my head and I see a further 5 children just babies, some half dressed moving in the squalor like little rats playing. I look them in the eyes and smile and once they feel safe they smile back and I can see beneath everything there is a beautiful child. I’m told there is no Dad and that mum has not eaten for three days the children have not eaten that day.
On the floor bedside mum is XX (name witheld) age about 30, filthy, dressed in rags and smelling quite unpleasant. I sit down on the filthy floor beside her, seeking her story. She tells me she is mums sister she has nowhere to live, has two children and pregnant. She is honest in response to my enquiries about how she provides, “ I am a prostitute” she says,” If I am out all day I may earn up to £10 some days I can be out all day and earn nothing. She eats and feeds the children from scraps found on a rubbish tip, she fetches a bag it’s full of discarded slices of bread fully thick with mould and black with dirt. She hopes to make some simple soup with it. It is now about 5 pm and its getting dark and a few moments the light falls to a level where you will be unable see across the room, it will be pitch black , there are no windows and no lighting. By 6pm she will not be able to see the children just the sound of their hunger cries. They might huddle up together for warmth; to survive. There is no bedroom, no kitchen, no running water, no electricity no toilet. We hand out food parcels on the way out feeling sick to the back of our stomachs, feeling wretched that at this moment we can’t make a bigger impact.
We visit a number of other houses in the ghetto they are much the same with much the same stories. Before we leave Romania we find a sponsor for 1 of the children and another sponsor for a whole family they will at least get one hot meal a week and whatever else we can do, its not much but it might save their life and it will give them hope as we plan our future investment in the community.
The team commit a substantial investment yet we have no more money; we will reach out in faith for other people’s generosity.
Bill Huxley – Reghin, Romania 25/11/2019