Dedicated to Maria
<<She demonstrated a great will to lead her life in a very constructive way. Very good, Maria, we are glad we were helpful for your beginning…”>>.
“Those who in the journey of life have even lit only a torch in the dark hour of someone has not lived in vain.”
Mother Teresa of Calcutta
November 2011, in the occasion of the cultural exchange between the Italian city of Villa Minozzo (RE) and the Romanian one of Anina, Elio Ivo Sassi, president of Green Cross in Villa Minozzo, told us about the case of that girl, less than 17 years old, he found in a house in Anina, in a really degraded context and with no support. The girl was lying on the bed in a filthy room. Her suffering was clear, caused by a surgery operation ofileostomy (intestine deviated on the side) for an alleged cancer. The excrements went out from her side with no support and the thinness was astonishing. The family situation was terrible: the mother was an alcoholic; the father was untrustworthy and there were also other siblings. All of them were living in miserable environmental conditions and with no healthcare. The neighbours were in the same situation but Mary was really sick.
After the surgery, doctors sent the girl back home but there were not even the basic sufficient conditions to deal with that dramatic situation. It was evident, even without being an expert, that the girl was slowly dying and that it was mandatory to do something.
Thanks to the contacts of a generous doctor in Timisoara we managed to take her to the hospital there, where, after a detailed visit, the surgeon said the operation to deviate the intestine was useful and dangerous. Fortunately, the cancer was not there anymore (are we sure about the previous doctor diagnosis?). The intestine was placed back at its place and the girl remained at the hospital for a long time, where we assisted her thanks to local people help, as well. Obviously, we paid all the expenses.
After some times, the girl came back home but the family environment did not help with her recovery. Even thought she was physically recovering, she began soon to be in a mournful mood. For a long time, she had not been attending school and she looked like she did have no interests. She spent her days in front of the TV. We also managed, thanks to the dentists of Overland for Smile, to provide her with teeth implants, since she was suffering from a bad dental care. Also, that was really important to give her motivation.
We had an idea! What if we try and convince her to work? We asked our friend Davide who, in the meanwhile, opened a small fashion jewelry shop, and he immediately accepted. Davide is not an entrepreneur who only thinks about money and knows that through a serious job, people can be actually helped. Maria found a life meaning. Thanks to her new income she became independent and left her house. She worked a lot and started thinking about her future. She worked with Davide for almost one year, then she had the chance to go abroad to take care of an old woman (like a lot of people do in that area), at least for a temporary period. Bravely, she left and arrived in an unknown world. She started then accepting other similar jobs and she learnt how to take care of other people, to cook, to clean up, etc. She gained very few money but she knew she had to maintain her promise and kept on. She kept contacts with us all through internet and... she learnt German!
She lived with her Romanian boyfriend who joined her. He found a job as driver and she worked as cleaning lady. She learnt how to make do and that life must be faced with determination. She also learnt another important thing: "If you do too many projects often you will be disappointed, so it is better to let things happen"; she said that poverty should not be an excuse to give up and that "life is really interesting to be lived". She also managed to go to holidays in Italy where she saw the sea for the first time! But the best thing is that she managed her siblings and mother to join her so that they have a better future there (and so that they can regularly go to school!). They did not live in the same city but they met every three weeks. She helped her with her money as much as she could.
She found a job in a hospital, cleaning up in the operating rooms, but at night she went... to school studying to become a nurse. She understood how important education is and she decided to go back in school, that she left when she was still in Romania. She also wanted the driving licence and she managed to get it, obviously. She came back to Romania for holidays.
In 2016 she got married and ... they lived happily ever after.
Dedicated to Dorin
<<No life is impossible to save. It could be difficult but you should try your best with all your perseverance. Why?
Because something should be done because...it should be done>>.
“Love, which compels whoever is loved to love in return, ...”
Dante Alighieri, canto V inf.
He is born in 1972 in Hunedoara and he grows up in an orphanage because he was abandoned, going through different institutes; he never attended school (he is an illiterate), already as a minor he wandered in different areas, sleeping in stations and trains (one of the so-called "stray children", really common at the time in Romania), in parks and in sewers (to get warm thanks to the heating system). He obviously develops a mental handicap and various tic of nervous origin (that fortunately we saw them slowly reducing). He saw his parents at 14, but only for a moment. No affection, no one who took care of him. As a consequence, he has no trust in the institutions nor in other people; never had a friend, only companions in misfortune. He was dedicated to robberies and alcoholism. He spent many years in jail; then, still as minor, he organized a robbery in the house of the judge who then sentenced him to 10 years (as minor with handicap!), spent in a prison with almost one hundred other detainees (imagine the living conditions). Out from jail, after a short period he lived thanks to the robbery loot, spending everything in women and alcohol, he starts again the stray life, getting sick from tuberculosis and managing to get to Marila, where there is a sanatorium.
In 2010 we saw him wandering in Brădet, often drunk with really low-quality beverages and derided by local population (as a sort of "village idiot"). Entering his shelter with our friend Silvio, an abandoned forest service house, we found a situation of desperate abandonment, with no water and no electricity. Dorin, in order to sleep safely in that dump (see pictures), used to put old bread on the top of a wardrobe so that mice, eating the bread, did not go up on the cot in which he was sleeping.
From that moment, little by little, he has been assisted and taken care of. We tried to teach him the importance of washing himself and following the basic hygienic rules. He used to eat with filthy hands with no cutlery; sometimes he was violent as well. We also tried to teach him to write and read. We periodically gave him food and other common use goods (clothes, soaps, etc.). But the most important thing is that, for the first time in his life, he received some love, so that he ended up calling Rosa (in the picture, the woman who is drying his hair) "mum". Now he lives in the sanatorium of Marila that in the meanwhile got transformed, even though not properly appropriate, into a recovery for "homeless people". Now Dorin comes to the school to take a shower, eats with us using cutlery (almost) and never starts eating if first the others, especially the “mum”, are not sitting at the table. They look like little results but they are signs of a radical change which is operating in him.
A part from some periods, in which he returns again to the behaviours of a beggar, asking money with a lot of insistence (almost more than our patience), we can say that he managed to get a decent life. Now he reads a bit and, since we gave him a smartphone, he is able to connect to the internet (skype). Since he had no childhood, he is attracted by toys such as teddy-bears, but in those years, he did a lot of progresses, recovering in a fast way, the different growing steps he was missing, and for that he is very grateful. Surely, he demonstrated to be honest and we never had doubts on him, since we gave him free access to our rooms (in order to obtain trust, you have to give trust).
All our associates who know him are really attached to him, also because he is really smart and does funny expressions. Dorin made us understand that who has not known love cannot give love but when someone (normally they should be the parents) takes care of him, the situation radically changes and he can face the change.
Thank you Dorin, in reality we owe you more than you do to us.
Dedicated to Beniamin
So many things we have done since then that we hardly remembered this "2004 madness". Beniamin reminds it, then a child and now a married man, with this touching letter that makes us happy with the contribution we made to his life. A contribution, he says, it was crucial. We don't know if this is the case, but it doesn't matter to know.
"One should think more about doing good than about feeling good; and so it would also end up feeling better " (A. Manzoni)
Here it is the letter from Beniamin, we received in 2018:
<<I come from a large family of six children with a life that is not always easy but still beautiful because of the harmony between us. I am the second major.Looking back, I realize only now how poor we were, living in an old mud and wood house, with only two rooms of which, in winter, to save wood, we used only one. I understand now that I dared not to dream of something better and I thought if there could be concrete hopes for our poor family. I clearly understood how limited we are from a material point of view: we only know how to live.
My parents worked a lot. My father in the factory and my mother in the garden from which she tried to get the sustenance, with our help as children. But they taught us to be hard-working and, united one to another, to love us.
The first meeting with "the Italians" (as we children called you), had a deep impact on our children's hearts, filling us with happiness. We were happy with the food and toys we received (I still have a toy car for my children today!). I had never met foreigners who showed such affection and care for us. This gave me hope. Knowing that someone, even if far from us, loved us so much, already made us feel good. I remember our parents had been questioned about what they needed. It was extraordinary that someone came to us to ask about our needs. For a long time I didn't understand why. My parents asked and were satisfied! I remember the happiness in seeing the refrigerator, the mower (an old but perfect BCS) and the “Ciao” motorbike.
Everything was well thought out by the "Italians" so that we could grow. The refrigerator was to store the food in a good way. The mower to cut our grass for animals and at the same time to be able to work in the fields of the neighbors, from which we really had good family revenues. The motorbike was used to allow my father to go and work 8 km away and, later, for our enjoyment.
It was really a blessing. I can say that after my parents, the "Italians" were the most important men in our children's lives.
Thanks to your intervention, God has given us hope, has opened up a downward horizon for relations between men and certainly not only for the material goods we received. We have felt your affection very well, as children.
But things didn't end up there. After some time, the sky of God opened and a great blessing came in the family: we received the news that the "Italians" wanted to build a house for us! We have experienced such a great emotion that it is not possible to describe it. The reality was incredible. We, who could not even dream of what others in the village had, we, who receive a house as a gift? How can you understand such a thing? Who has ever experienced such an event? And why us? Why? It was incomprehensible to me for a long time and only after many years I began to understand.
Now I understand that you Italians have been a valiant tool in the hands of the Lord. Even now, after many years, I am amazed at how God worked in our family through you. What impressed and filled the heart with great happiness was seeing an entire team of Italians who, with us by the side, built the house. What an incredible scene. There would be much more to say for these unforgettable memories.
I learned from you that making other people happy, makes you happy. You were happy to give, probably even more than we, who received.
God does not leave us as we are, but wants us to change. I have certainly not been the best child but surely, when we understand what we get from God, he changes us. How He changed me. I understood how God uses good people to do good, because we, in return, change our life from material to much more spiritual one. He wants us to free ourselves from all ties, to make us truly happy. I have been freed from many things that degraded my life by protecting me from falsehood, dishonesty, etc.
And all this I understood through you "Italians". I am convinced that you have radically changed the direction of our life, making us more good and generous.
This has become our motto: "be a donor and not a recipient". You live by this motto.
Today I live to help people in a material and spiritual way. Why? I don't know, but I really think it's a seed that you "Italians" have placed in us.
I received another great gift: my wife Areta and our baby Avraam. We feel debtors to God and we are happy.
We love you "engines" of all these beautiful things.
Praised be Jesus>>
Currently, Beniamin lives in a multi-denominational village (but all Christians) of about 90 people, where he works as an operating agronomist, receiving, in exchange, food for his young family. It is a place where you can breathe harmony and sincere brotherhood.
Dedicated to Gabi
Look how nice it is to find out after years that the seeds have sprouted!
“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead "
We found Gabi, abandoned by his parents, in a Rom family (the uncle who was living with the sister-in-law) in a common poverty situation: a crumbling and unhealthy house in a small town.
After trying to help the whole big family, responding to a shy request by a fragile twelve year old who simply sensed that he could not have a future in that degraded environment - thanks to the omnipresent Maria Grazia who paid the costs for years - we found him a Baptist school in the city of Resita and therefore Gabi was able to start his school career, slowly recovering serious deficiencies but above all living in an adequate context where he could learn the basic rules of a normal life.
Almost every week, we had direct information on his progresses and, above all, a detailed list of expenses. Our presence "as an adoptive family" has been constant. It was not easy but we always managed to.
After the end of middle school, at his request, he went to the technical school of Caransebes where, in three years, he studied motor mechanics. There too, he was followed with our periodic visits and through the appointment of a tutor for the management of expenses (always paid by Maria Grazia), in a private accommodation.
After the end of the technical school, we lost contact with him and thought that the boy was "lost", to the point that we thought our effort was useless. Instead, last year, here it is with the nice surprise of knowing that he returned to his home (in the meantime abandoned by his uncle) with his young partner and a beautiful girl! Now he manages to maintain his family, working as a mechanic and, thanks to the acquired manual skills, he has begun to renovate the house making it a normal and equipped home.
He is very grateful for what our association has done for him. And we are glad with this recognition but the greatest satisfaction is to see the results of “sowing” over the years.
Thank you, Gabi.
Dedicated to Violeta
Another beatiful sprouted seed!
“One should think more about doing well than about being well: and in this way one would end up feeling better too"
Here is the letter she received in 2019:
<Gianluca for us was a gift from God. With the help of the Il Giocattolo Group, every time we were sick we went to the doctor (even in Italy, six times!). Whenever they came to Romania they visited us, they always came to do the grocery shopping and they gave my mother the money to buy us what we needed for school.
Thanks to them, for a period of 6 years, I managed to stay in boarding school where the costs were quite high, around 400 lei per month. My first flight was with Gianluca and Rosa.
For us, childhood was a continuous struggle.
I never knew how to thank you, but I learned something from you:
- school comes first and education plays an important role in life;
- if you offer help, give it from the heart;
- do not expect anything in return if you help someone.
For a long time I did not understand: why do you help people without waiting for something? Instead, I realized that when you put a smile on a troubled man's face, you double your happiness!
As long as we are healthy we can do everything we have decided to do, if you are able to think then you can go very far, there is no limit!
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything and I hope I can give back. >>