Poverty in Romania quite often finds whole families living in squalor conditions, sometimes up to 10 people in a one room house made of adobe, on the brink of collapsing any time, without electricity or water. The precarious living conditions cause health problems for the children and parents as well, and the lack of education leads to a life in poverty, at the periphery of society. Families live without running water or heat, makes the conditions even more miserable during the winter. A majority of the children living in this way do not receive adequate nutrition; one meal a day, if that, is often all the children may eat.

When the after-school program was opened at the House of Angels, there were two bright faces representing this poverty, 12 year old Ionela and 8 year old George Sandu. Ionela and George always worked very hard on their homework, working into the night by candlelight at home, and they’ve done very well in school. They are the first kids to come to HOA after school program and the last kids to leave in the late afternoon.

After seeing the conditions of the home environment of the children, something just had to be done to alleviate their home situation.

The Sandu family has always had modest expectations from life. Mr. Sandu often worries that the next month won’t bring enough money to feed his children. Mr. Sandu is a gravedigger for the local cemetery and regretfully is happy when someone in the community dies. He knows this will bring money to his family. Mrs. Sandu suffers from severe epilepsy her occupation is to sweep the roads in Gaesti, in front of the homes of the “wealthy” families.

Dambovita county Romania, the home of the House of Angels and the Sandu family, has in the past been recognized as having one of the highest child abandonment rates in the country. Under these very difficult circumstances, the Sandu parents never abandoned their children and they found great relief when HOA’s daily care center opened its doors for service to their children. Their hopes were to one day have electricity in their home so that Ionela and George will no longer have to do their homework by candle light. They hoped to one day have money enough to replace the plastic in their windows with real glass. And they hoped to one day get over the daily fear that they may not have enough money to buy food for their children.

The Sandu home was a one-room shelter made from cardboard, a completely deteriorating home-made adobe type dwelling with a plastic roof and plastic windows. Regardless of how fate treated the Sandu family, Ionela and George were children who were forever friendly and always smiling. They were never complaining, never saying they were too cold in the brutal winter.

Fortunate for these two, they had a special place to visit, a House of Angels where they would get hot meals and assistance with their homework. And it was at this House of Angels that they watched films of Hansel and Gretel. They were always hoping and dreaming that one day the angels would bring them a cottage like the one in the story.

In fact, the angels at the center had told them that indeed they would one day have their dream, they needed to believe. They asked without wavering through weeks and months on end, “Is it true?”. The answer was always, without wavering, a resounding “Yes!”

Those at the house of angels knew that money and bureaucracy were forever standing in the way. But the angels’ hope and faith also never wavered.

The situation turned suddenly. The Sandu family facing Romanian winter without electricity, was in danger of loosing this “home”. The shelter that housed them belonged to the grandmother of the children who at one time moved out with her two 40 year old handicapped sons into a kind of tent made of pieces of wood, plastic and other things. They now want their “house” back. If this were to have happened, the Sandu family would have had no place to stay.

Mother Sandu works hard to keep Ionela and George extremely clean and takes very good care of them but if they were to lose the “house” they currently lived in, the kids would immediately be taken by child protection to a foster family. The mother said if this happened “her life would be worthless because she only lives for her children”. Something had to be done very quickly to save the home environment of this dear family.

Finally… asking day after day, the dearest dream of all dreams of these children came true, they had a house that was truly a home!

Operation Habitat was launched in July of 2008. The funds were never raised to fulfill this dream. But during the desperate hours, House of Angels never gave up. With the knowledge that the Sandu family were soon to lose their home, a relentless search turned up a miracle. A company with a compassionate owner had a pre-fab type dwelling, and it was priced at 2,000 euros, the price was cut in half for the benefit of the Sandu family after he heard the story.

At 1000 euros (approximately $1,500 USD), a deal was finally made. There is continued hope that current negotiations with the Gaesti Mayor will result in bringing electricity into the house, something this family has never known. Since the family does not have a stable income, this poses a problem as well, but a simple light bulb and a heater would warm this family and create a really wonderful environment in which to raise children.

With no funds available to have the house transported or re-assembled, our dedicated Gelu “George” the HOA administrator and his generous friends recently disassembled the house and then transported it to the Sandu family to reassemble it there. Arriving late at night, time only allowed for unloading, so the family turned sentinel over the logs by night to ensure they would not be stolen.

The next morning the sun shone bright upon the labors of the workers. Gelu and friends spent the day putting the house back together, with the help of the family. Ionela and George refused to eat or do anything, instead staying close by to help.

Simona Stewart, House of Angels founder was amazed: “I noticed little George far-away in a daydream, thinking probably that he will have a real room for the first time in his life. The contrast between the old house and the new one was just stunning. It was desperation vs. hope. It was a revival of life. The family was so happy and grateful.”

Now we need your help. We must raise the $1500 to pay for the house since we decided to just go ahead with this dream with approaching harsh winter.

Can you please make this your covenant with us to be a part of this special dream for these children?

What would make this even better is if we had a donor generous enough to help us keep assisting this wonderful family as a sponsor.

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2 Comments on Operation Habitat – Sandu Family

  1. Denisa says:

    Hi. My name is Denisa and I am from Romania. I am a journalist, doing my Masters in London in Journalism International and I have a blog: http://denisamorariu.wordpress.com/

    It is just at the beginning. I would like to for your permission to use some of your pictures from Flickr that show Romanian poverty on my blog. Will you allow me to publish them on my blog? And I am very interested in your blog. Is it just about Romania?

  2. Lori says:

    Denisa this would be fine if our site is credited/linked. We are a child charity organization and we could use all the exposure possible. We are trying to raise funds for our projects. Your site looks wonderful. We do work currently in Romania, Kazakhstan, Russia and Ethiopia. If you need to e-mail me you may at the contact form on this site.

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