Sorry, this entry is only available in Română.
Those who feel like they can’t take it anymore, should pay a visit to some of the families included in JHOR’s “Manna” (Meals on Wheels) project. This experience will teach them to be more thankful to God for the blessings received and, at the same time, will prompt them to lend a hand to those who are desperately crying for help.
Granny Floare’s story will move you to tears. She is an 89 year old woman and I had to wait for several minutes while she reached the intercom of her ground floor apartment, located in Timisoara. Suffering and many burdens have reduced her ability to move around. The poor apartment is decorated with some of the things she has gathered throughout her life, which bear the mark of time.
From the other room, a woman asks, in a loud voice, if the people who came to visit are “good people.” It is her daughter, who is 63. Floare had never thought that she would be the one to take care of her daughter, who is also in a poor health condition. “My daughter is even worse than I am. I help her get up and go to the bathroom. She can take a few steps but she is weaker and more ill than I am.”
Her grandson lives in the same apartment but he is not in good health, either. The strongest of them is Floarea, at 89. We continue our conversation as she sits on a chair in the kitchen. She needs to rest.
She is grateful to God for her strength and sane mind, so that she can handle the little money they have coming in. “I always pay the utilities and the electric bill first. Then, with the money I have left, I buy the medication we need. We really don’t have anything left for food. I am happy that, at least, we don’t have any debts. The only food we eat every day is the food we get from “Manna.” We divide it so that we have enough for dinner and for breakfast the next morning too. When we were not in the program, we were hungry most of the time. We are thankful to the people who sponsor the project and to those who cook and deliver it.”
She walked us out, thanking us for the visit and wishing us all the best. While I was leaving the small apartment, I was thinking of the words of the late Pastor Peter Dugulescu, the founder of “Jesus the Hope of Romania.” Whenever he was talking about the “Manna” project, he said that his wish was to offer a hot meal to all the deserted, elderly people, forgotten in Timisoara’s communist apartment buildings. There are many people in this sad state. You can see for yourselves. Visit them and then contribute to meals they are offered every day.
Words are too poor to describe this man’s life. He noticed the look in our eyes and confirmed our thoughts by saying: “You have never heard a story like mine, I tell you!” He insisted on us entering the room in which he lives. It would have fallen apart long ago if it hadn’t been supported by some wooden beams. “I am terrified of living here. God only knows how much longer I can take it!” His insistent invitation gave us courage to keep walking through the rubbish piled up in the yard. The whole place looked like a warehouse of things which used to be useful ages ago. When asked why he did not throw them all away, he replied that some of those things can be used as spare parts. Most of his life he worked as a car mechanic and he was appreciated for his quality work. Even now, although he is 72, some of his old clients still look him up. Among the ruins, I spotted a motorcycle. He told us that he had just lent it to a friend who had no other means of transportation and needed to solve some urgent issues. His only income is the social welfare he gets from the state: 142 lei (approx. $43). This barely covers the electricity and the medication he needs.
As far as food goes… “If I didn’t receive the meals from JHOR every day, I wouldn’t survive. I always divide it carefully, so that I also have enough for dinner and for the next morning. I thought many times that I would have been better off if God had taken me a long time ago. I even contemplated suicide – the suffering is too much. God has kept me from doing so but I don’t know how much longer I can go on.”
He was married and he has a daughter but they do no keep in touch anymore because she “split up a family and took away the father of three children. I myself do not approve of that.”
While he was walking us out, he desperately asked us to write that he lives in sheer poverty. It was the desperate cry of a man who is waiting for help to come… from somewhere, from someone…
Although she is 62 and her life has been filled with trials and hardships, Stoianca has not lost her sense of humor. She lives in a one-room apartment, surrounded by many neighbors. Because the place was too small, she had a small balcony built, so that she could get a little more air. She was married for 33 years but her husband passed away. She has a daughter, a son and two grandchildren. One of the grandchildren lives with her. She spends most of her time inside, because walking has become difficult for her. Although the church she goes to is not far away from where she lives, walking there is always a challenge.
Her precarious state of health is caused by her weight and by the 14 surgeries she has undergone. “Twelve years ago I had throat cancer but God healed me. Now I have problems with my heart, kidneys, liver, blood pressure etc.. Actually it is easier if I just told you what is fine with me,” she says, smiling.
She heard about “Manna” from one of her neighbors, a woman who has lost her sight. Burdened by pain, Stoianca tells me that after a life of hard work, she had hoped she would spend her last days feeling secure and comfortable. The pension she receives from the state (395 lei – less than $120), however, is barely enough to cover the bills. There isn’t even enough money left for her medication. “I have diabetes and my medication is quite expensive. Yesterday my blood sugar was really high: 361. I need insulin three times a day. Everything gets more and more expensive… It is so hard for me… There is nothing I can do about it… So much poverty… May God reward you for everything you do! “Manna” means so much to me. I can’t wait to get the meal every day. I divide it in three, so that I have enough for lunch, dinner and breakfast the next day. One can never know how he ends up…”
Ecaterina has had her share of troubles in this life. She is 56 now but things have not improved much for her. The “house” in which she lives together with her husband consists of one room, “built” by their own hands. It is made of waste materials, thrown away by other people and then covered with some construction materials they received for free. It is no wonder that water gets through easily. Since they don’t always know when it is going to rain, they just hung a plastic recipient over their bed, so that the water does not fall directly on them.
They used to have a house of their own, in a village called Comlosu Mare. In a moment of madness, Ecaterina sold it for a ridiculously little amount of money. There were people who offered their help immediately after that and tried to undo what she had done, in order to get the house back but nothing could be done. This wasn’t even their greatest trial. The most painful ordeal of their lives started when the doctors diagnosed their seven year old daughter, Mara, with AIDS. This happened a few months after a blood transfusion. She eventually passed away three years ago, when she was only 23. She had a little girl, Flavia. Before passing away, Mara talked to Laurentiu Timis, the executive director of JHOR and asked him to take Mara to “Onesimus Brothers.”
Back to my visit to Ecaterina’s home now… She invited me into the room, to show me pictures of Mara and Flavia, which she had framed and put up on the walls. The electricity is provided by a car battery, which they charge with the help of a neighbor. She points to one of the pictures of Mara and Flavia, saying: “They are my treasures… What can you do with someone who’s not in their right mind, like me? I gave away my house for nothing… look where I ended up living. I have no pension, no social welfare. Even my I.D. is out of date. We are so blessed with the food we receive from “Manna” every day. It’s our lunch and dinner. Look, all the food I have in the house is this piece of bread left from yesterday’s meal.”
She tells me that her husband is out looking for fire wood for the winter. As he brings some home, Ecaterina chops it and puts it in a pile, next to the house. “We are getting wood, so that we can keep warm during the winter.” She continues by saying that she has no more medicine. “It’s not expensive but I have no money. If I don’t take my medication, I don’t function well. Maybe you can find someone who can help me get it,” she keeps saying, as she walks me to the gate.
Loneliness, sickness, helplessness… these are the words which describe best Mrs. Giurgiu Valeria’s life. She is 86 years old and her feet are no longer strong enough to take her to all the places she used to go. This is why she gave a copy of her keys to the JHOR staff so that they could deliver the meals straight to her table or fridge. When I entered the room she was in, she was sitting up on the side of the bed, surrounded by her medication. She also had the phone close by, in case she needed to call someone. But even talking on the phone is a quite a difficult task for her, since she has hearing problems. “I asked the authorities for a hearing device but I haven’t received one yet. I will ask again.”
She told us that she has recently found out that she has a very serious condition but the doctors won’t perform surgery on her because of the risks associated with her age. “I did not insist on getting the surgery. The doctors know better what is good for me.”
Her biggest regret in life is not having any children. “I have had health problems all my life. I always said to myself that I would have children when I got better. And so, life just went by and now… I am old and still alone. I fell 3 years ago and since then I haven’t even been able to cook. I would be better off if God took me home.”
Mrs. Valeria spends all her time in bed, day or night. “I have a heart condition and I am tired all the time. I am on medication for it but… things can’t get much better at my age…”
Eventually, it was time to say good bye. I carefully closed the door, which will be opened again tomorrow and the next day after that by the people who deliver her daily meals.
Constantin is a 42 year old man, whose suffering has estranged him from those around him. He is somehow isolated from others but from time to time, he feels the need to be visited by a friend, with whom he plays a game of chess or rummy. His muscles are affected by a serious condition which can’t be cured. He has seen many doctors, hoping that one of them will find a solution to his problem. He even went to a clinic in Germany but, unfortunately, nothing could be done for him. Eventually he resigned and tried to come to terms with his situation. He had to give up work five years ago, because he was no longer able to perform his duties. He has been retired since then.
A few years back he had a family: a wife and a son, but they got a divorce and the boy lives with his mother now.
He agreed to tell me a few words about himself and about what “Manna” means to him: “My disease affects the tendons and I can’t stand on my feet. I walk in a weird way and if I don’t move, I get dizzy. I go out for a walk from time to time, with my son or with a friend. I have a small pension, which covers the basic utilities and expenses. Being in my shoes isn’t easy. I used to go to work when I was physically able to; now I have to accept my condition. I am thankful for the food I receive. I can’t cook and even if I could, I don’t have money to get the necessary ingredients. Thank you for “Manna!”
I found Eugen in a small room, with a tiny window which allowed very little air to come in. He is 40 years old and pays rent for the small room, located in a building with several other tenants. They all share one bathroom. He was waiting for the “Manna” meal. After lunch, he starts his job, which consists of doing cleaning and maintenance work in a church yard, together with a friend. “I have to pay rent every month (380 lei / approx. $115) and my pension is very small. My mother sent us all away from home and told us to manage on our own. I also saved up for the month when I didn’t get the meals.”
Eugen really tried to manage on his own. He got a job but he stopped taking the medication he needed for his mental condition. “Eventually I collapsed and was admitted to a psychiatric hospital for three months. Now I am doing better but I need to take my medication all the time.”
When the weather is nice, Eugen likes to take long strolls and meditate. He spends much time praying, because he understood that God is the One giving him strength and guiding his life. He speaks on the phone with his mother from time to time, in order to receive news from home. “Communicating from the distance works well for us. I don’t want to be a burden to anyone. I am thankful to God for having a place to live and for the food He delivers to me daily… Manna, is it?”
I found three of the eight children of the Botancei family playing in an extremely modest and poor little house. They were the youngest ones and therefore they all rushed to get their older sister, Nicoleta, who is fourteen, to tell me their story. They trust Nicoleta completely because she is like a mother to them. She didn’t go to school for many years and when she did, she was left behind two years in a row because she couldn’t do her homework or prepare for school in any way. Eventually, she somehow managed to get to the second grade, which made her very happy. She even dares to dream now that someday she will become a doctor and will earn enough money to pull her family out of misery and poverty.
Their house looked old and deteriorated to me. To them, it looked wonderful. “We used to all live in only one room. Now we have two rooms, a kitchen and a pantry,” says Nicoleta. The kitchen is the place where, day by day, they eat the meals delivered through the “Manna” program. They have a stove but they took it out, into the yard because there is hardly any food to be cooked on it. Their only income is the social welfare and every month 400 lei ($120) are spent on rent.
During our talk, Nicoleta told me that their parents (mother + step father) went to the hospital with her youngest siblings, for tests. She also explained to me how fascinated she was by the doctors who did miracles for her little brothers. She wants to become a doctor and help others as well.
As far as “Manna” goes… “It is the only food we have every day. We try to save some for dinner, too. Sometimes there is even some left till the next morning, when the meal is delivered again. If there is not enough for all of us to eat, I tell myself that I need to lose some weight. I am happy there is enough for my brothers and sisters.”
As I was leaving, and the little ones were playing in the yard, a neighbor came running, asking me where did all those children come from. He was upset by the noise they make. Upon hearing that all of them belong to one family, he suddenly calmed down and left, probably thinking how difficult it must be for one mother to feed and raise eight children.
Bethany is a special gift from God for all who the people who call it their home… it is an oasis of peace and grace.
It was opened on October 17th 2003, after ten years of hard work and sacrifices, after a long term investment on the part of JHOR and with the help of countless individuals and teams who helped out by donating both money and time & work for the construction of the building. The need for such a home has been on the hearts and minds of the people from Hateg for many years. A group of Christian believers, among which was also the late Timotei Valean had this initiative in 1990, right after the Revolution.They started the project and were able to get the land but in order to carry on, they decided to ask for the help of Pastor Peter Dugulescu, who had served the church in Hateg for twelve years. This is how Bethany became a JHOR project.With the help of God and many special people, the work was finished in 2003 and Bethany has become home for 7 elderly people who didn’t have anywhere else to go.
At present, Bethany offers shelter to 24 elderly people and 6 abandoned young women – orphan girls who have nobody by their side. Bethany home is a special gift from God for all those who live there, an oasis of peace and grace.
Tavica Valean is the director of the project at the moment. She is assisted by a devoted team, who are specialized in offering the residents the care they need, as well as much love and understanding.