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Alexandru began sharing his sad life story with me by saying that ever since he was born, he has only known his mother, with whom he had lived until he was 11 years old. At this age, fed up with the never-ending fights in the family and with being scolded all the time, he decided to leave home. “My mother and my grandfather used to keep telling me that I was good for nothing, that I couldn’t do anything. I ran away and I ended up in an orphanage in Lugoj. My grandfather talked me into going back home but I didn’t stay there for long.”
Alexandru lived in Lugoj, at the orphanage, for five years. When he turned 16, he decided to seek out his mother again. “I had missed her. Everyone at home was happy to see me but I didn’t stay with them for too long.” He moved to Timisoara, where he attended a training school and started working for a carpenter. This man told him about “Jesus the Hope of Romania” and this is how he came to live at “Onesimus Brothers.” “I am happy to be here but I want to make some money and then leave Romania for good. I am grown up now and I want to build a future for myself.”
With sadness and frustration in his voice, Alexandru told me that he has been disappointed by the fact that he can’t do many things for his future here. “In Romania, I can, at best, survive but if I move to a different country, I can work my way up to a better status. Here, I may get gray and old before I manage to get my own place to live!”
His only joy in life now is the family and the love he has found at “Onesimus Brothers,” who have lent him a hand of help during this difficult time in his life.
Although he is 21 years old, Alexandru has never met his real parents. He wanted very much to meet the one who gave birth to him, but no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t get any clues as to their whereabouts. Eventually, he has learned to live with not knowing anything about them – not even their first names. All he knows is that he was abandoned at the hospital in which he was born and was taken to a children’s home in Recas afterwards.
Alexandru has a speech impediment and communicating with the people around him is a continual struggle. This makes him sad but, at the same time, he is happy that he can make himself understood. He told us that he’s outgoing and makes new friends easily. “While I was in Recas, I became friends with everyone. I got along well with the cooks, the social workers and the other children. They were my family but now I am so thankful to live at “Onesimus Brothers.”
Alexandru’s dream is to make just enough money to be able to buy a small place to live. He finished a training school, where he learned gardening. He got really enthusiastic as he was telling me how to plant a tree, how to tend to a vine and how important is to prepare, beforehand, the place where a tree is to be planted. He is thankful to God for the people who received him with open arms at “Onesimus Brothers” and he integrated well in the youth group from the Ecclesia Church. “I am happy that I can live here so that I can save some money. I want to get a good job and follow my dream!”
I met him on the patio outside the kitchen from “Onesimus Brothers,” where he was chopping onions for the meals which would be cooked the next day. He had arrived from work a little time before I went to talk to him and he just wanted to help out in the kitchen. He came to “Onesimus Brothers” last year and was very happy to tell me how he got here. “I was so stressed and I didn’t see any way out. All I wanted was a cheap place to stay, so that I could make something for myself in this world.”
This is how Camando began sharing his life story with me. He has lived in orphanages for as long as he can remember: Recas, Lugoj, Timisoara. He tried repeatedly to find his parents and have them explain to him why he was abandoned. He really wants to know this. He insists on me writing that he never wanted their money. He works now. All he wants to know is why they had abandoned him. He never got an answer to this question. The only thing he knows about his parents is that they live somewhere in Europe.
Last hear he began a frantic search for something to fill the hole in his soul. God spoke to him one night, while he was desperately praying for the power to give up smoking. His prayer was answered and since then, he took up Bible reading and studying and a genuine change began to take place in his life. Now he goes to church regularly and testifies to all about the miracle which happened in his life.
Having experienced the fact that God answers prayers, Camando, who is 22, started to pray and to dream about more things: he wants to save some money, to get a small place to live, to start a family. “Who doesn’t dream about having a family? I want to have the family I never had, filled with love, joy, peace. I have had my share of suffering and heart ache. Even if Romania became a free country in 1989, in all the orphanages I lived in, they would still beat us up and take everything away from us. I had no shampoo, no sweets. We used to put ragged clothes on. I had friends and this made things a little easier but please write this down: SUFFERING! I had a lot of it. I would cry myself to sleep every night. I didn’t even know what pizza or French fries tasted like. I am thankful to God for the fact that here I have everything!”
Before getting to know Ilie, I had already learned from one of his good friends, with whom he has moved from one orphanage to another, that he is a 24 year-old who has already been in a lot of pain. I didn’t even need to ask myself “why?” The answer is simple: any child who grows up in a foster home, suffers. They long for their parents, family, home. Ilie has four brothers and three sisters. They all lived together in a house given to them by the state, for which they had to pay a very small rent. However, when Ilie was still very small, his family was thrown out of that place; he can’t remember why that happened. All he knows is that their mother took him and his siblings to a children’s home and she lived on the streets for a long time. She is still homeless, as we speak, and a little while ago Ilie saw her on a bench, in a park in Timisoara. He was overwhelmed by sadness at the thought that a family like his, poor but beautiful and united, just fell apart. He was offered the chance of living at “Onesimus Brothers” and he also got a job as a janitor. He is thankful that both these opportunities help him save some money. He still dreams about being reunited with his whole family and fears the fact that some of them might pass away before this can happen.
However, through all these troubles, Ilie puts his faith in God, Who rules over life and death. He also gets to see, day by day, that He makes all things possible. He reads from the Bible, sings and prays. He is also taking a computer class, hoping that someday it will help him get a better job. His dream is to have a family, united in love and harmony, and free of suffering – he has had enough of that in the 24 years he has lived so far.