House Insulation Project 2018

One can only appreciate how much we can live without when visiting a poor community like the gyspy community in Lazareni, Romania. It is a great reality check for most teams joining us throughout the year.

There is however, a great need that we have been trying to meet for many years, and that is the lack decent living conditions. Even though the process of providing decent living conditions for the gypsys in Lazareni is slow, we are celebrating every step of the way.
Because of very low income, very few families have been able to build a house that provides adequate shelter from the elements as well as safety. With help from our partners and individuals we have been able to help six families build a house and insulate them in order provide a more appropriate living conditions.

A major project that helps us achieve the above-mentioned goal is insulating the existing homes. This year we planned to insulate 15 houses, as the Styrofoam insulation makes a huge difference when the winter brings temperatures of -25 degrees Celsius as well as coping with the summers’ 35 – 40 degrees Celsius.
At the beginning of the year, our goal was to (by faith) insulate 15 houses but because of our partnership with Proton Foundation, generous donors and the involvement of the local  gypsy men, we were able to insulate 26 houses!

What is different this year from all five previous years of HIP-ing houses is that we made it a community project by having the men of the village do most of the work. Each family whose house is being insulated has to come up with a team of 3-4 men that will do the work assisted and supervised by us. Having a team from other country or town insulate your house is no doubt an incredible blessing. However, having the locals be part of the hands on process makes it even more special giving the family the satisfaction of personal involvement and investment.

It has been such a great experience, seeing the families come together, helping each other out with water, electricity or simply offering to do the work.
By the end of the year, we will have insulated a total of 32 houses in Lazareni and they all will be bearing our signature color as a testimony of what can be achieved when we partner to make a difference.

Please click on the video below to get a better idea what HIP means.

Celebrate the miracle of Water!


Water in Lazareni

In this day and age, the advertising industry and social media has managed to teach what are the things we need, deserve and should want to have. Unfortunately, that makes us take things for granted. We subconsciously think we are entitled to the things we own, use or have access to. In the early 1900, they made a list of things necessary for decent living and they had 16 important items on the list. In the recent years, they have redone the list with the things necessary to a decent life and the number jumped to 114 items. We will let you decide for yourself what to think of these numbers.

Working and spending many days in the gypsy community of Lazareni, we have learned that the so-called list of indispensables is so relative.

These people have had to live without one of the most basic need, water. For as long as we know they have had to walk or use horses and carts to go and fetch water from a source that is 2.5 km away. No effort is too great when you consider that water is vital to surviving; however, in their case they water they were fetching was not anywhere near to the standards we consider safe to drink. You can only imagine the problems created by lack of water and proper hygiene all those years.

Caleb Foundation, has tried over the years to find ways to make water more available and safer to drink. From drilling four wells, some as deep as 220 meters (720 feet) to distributing very efficient water filters to all families within the community. The drilling yielded no results and the geological tests only confirmed what we suspected, that there is no water in the region. Even though the filters only needed basic maintenance within less than a year, they were no longer being used.

One remark that was part of a discussion about the possibility of having running water in 2018 stands out. A young lady said: “when we have running water we will be clean and smell good like you”. One can only imagine how difficult must have been to always be self-conscious of the fact that you smell bad, thus avoiding interaction and socializing with other people.

They mayor a young and very determined individual promised he would see to it that the Lazareni community will have clean running water or he will run for office until it happens.

It took 7 years of hard work, lawsuits and fighting bureaucracy to finally in September of 2018 have running water in most of the village.

What an historical moment to see the kids spend most of the day around the improvised water source in the middle of the village in August 2018. They could not get enough of it to drink and play with. They behaved like “we better take advantage of this while it last” not believing this is for real and is here to stay.

Celebrate with us this new era where the precious Gypsy community of Lazareni can now enjoy the benefits of having clean, safe water in their homes.

Incredible Outcomes:

  • Now they will be able to wash and shower, keep their clothes clean and stay healthy.
  • The Diaper a day Project will take advantage of the re-usable/washable diapers, diaper liners and hygiene products.
  • With water made available and not having to walk for miles to get some the families will now be able raise animals and cultivate their soil in order to grow fruit and vegetables that are so vital to a balanced diet.
  • In addition, probably one of the most valuable outcome is that now the Gyspys will be able to regain their dignity and no longer fear rejected because of being and feeling dirty.

 

After School – Summer Camp

It’s incredible what the right incentive will accomplish especially in the lives of the gypsy kids in Lazareni where much is to be desired in the excitement department. Motivated and with a clear goal in mind these kids achieved what most parents and teachers believed to be impossible.

Against all kinds of weather, transportation issues, discrimination they attended classes and had some of the highest academic achievements ever recorded.
We know these celebratory achievements have a lot to do with the passion and love our teachers and instructors have shown while investing in these beautiful lives.

In the years past we have had various ways of rewarding their efforts and this year we decided to take 47 of them to a four-day camp up in the mountains. While we were all excited about the camp, the leaders could not hide the fact that they were nervous, as never before had we taken these kids out of the village for more than half a day.

We would like to thank all of those who have made this life changing experience possible for the After School champions!

Here are some highlights from the team leaders:

Salomea, team leader

“I went to the camp having some expectations but didn’t really know what to expect. It was an amazing experience for the kids but also for all of the leaders. I went to camp hoping for a change in their lives, but on top of that I was changed and my life will never be the same after this experience. I really believe that with love, care and education we can break the cycle of poverty and literacy. Really looking forward to our next camp.”

Denisa, team leader

“We were blessed beyond measure at this camp. One thing that really touched me was when the last day at camp I asked the kids: “Are you happy that you are going back home?” and with a sad face all of them answered: “no miss, we want to stay here longer.” They have learned new things, new songs, new Bible principles but the most important thing is that they have experienced love in a new way.”

Doroteea, team leader

“I am a not a brave person. Really, I am not. And this camp was like a Goliath for me, and I was not a David. I was too scared to take the kids to a camp for 4 days. This camp was a life changing experience for me. I have learned that teaching is not about being smarter, not at all. The key in education of these kids is love. The best moment from camp it was when Mea, one of the leaders, said to us “let’s go and put the girls in bed and love on them” So we did that. In that moment, I realized that they have never experienced this kind of love before. Maybe some of them never heard their parents saying to them “I love you”. It was a heartbreaking moment for me but also a life changing experience. Love is the key for all our endeavors that involve these kids.”

Celebrating the gypsy women of Lazareni.

On March 8, women all over the world are being celebrated and honored. Unfortunately not so much among the gypsy women. Therefore, we decided this year to show all the gypsy women of Lazareni how precious and special they all are to God. A party where they were all invited served and celebrated made them feel loved, special and appreciated. Surprised by all the food, fun, crafts and laughter they wished the day would never end!

Christmas Party

Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.”