Sitting on the flight back from Moldova, I am reflecting on the hundreds of beautiful children that were lovingly led by a member of the team around a room to find their warm clothing for this winter.
Driving to the airport this morning the outside temperature was -2.5 degrees, and it’s only Autumn. During the week a few of the team visited a family who are one of many in the villages struggling to survive. All five of this family share a double bed and the damp, cold and sparsely furnished room was their haven.
Sometimes in life something comes along that makes a deep impression. We had the awesome privilege of meeting a young 15 year old man (I will call him Maxim) who, two months ago found himself in a psychiatric unit. The reason for this – he is mentally disabled and his mother suddenly passed away, leaving him with literally no one to care for him. Orphaned. Two days ago he was discharged into the care of Cahul Social Services. He literally came with the clothes on his back. The staff brought in what they could for him but this was not enough. The limited funds Social Services have allow Maxim to stay in the children’s home, but they could not afford to clothe him. When we arrived, Maria (Head of the area’s Social Services) could not contain her relief that we were there and the timing of everything. We have built a great relationship with her and her team. The nappies, wipes and baby clothes we sent all arrived and for those who contributed towards this she and her team send their heartfelt thanks. Maria explained Maxim’s need for clothes. I took the opportunity to purchase these for him to truly understand what Moldovan parents have to invest in clothing their children.
I will put this into context. The Head Teacher of the school we distributed clothing in earns approximately 4000 lei – £130 or $199 per month. To purchase 1 coat, 2 jumpers, 2 pairs of shoes, 1 pair of pyjamas, 6 pairs of underpants, 6 pairs of socks and 1 t-shirt came to 4110 lei – £135 or $206. To clothe Maxim with these basic items cost the equivalent of a head teachers monthly salary. Imagine it costing the monthly salary of a Head Teacher in the UK/USA to purchase these basic items. Maxim now has new clothes and is in a safe place. Disability is not well understood in Moldova. Disabled children and adults are often left uncared for in their homes, whilst the family go to work. A very distressing situation for many. Social Services are finding it difficult to recruit a full time carer for Maxim. This encounter peeled back another layer of vulnerability in this beautiful country. Maxim now has a new extended family, everyone who is a part of Operation Orphan.
There is so much I want to say. All of the Moldovans we spoke to were so grateful for the small gift and constantly said how helpful it will be to the children and families. A teacher from the school that received clothes last year says she still sees children wearing the coat they had received. I want to say thank you to everyone who is a part of Keep a Child Warm for playing your part in helping these precious children. This could not happen without you.
So many layers, so many stories, so many amazing encounters. Keep a Child Warm does what it says and more, it helped us find Maxim.