Joy in a Box
Romanian Aid Foundation
This newsletter is currently in
preparation and progress can be seen below. Once complete, printed copies will be sent out to those on our mailing list.
If you would like to be added to the mailing list then please go to our 'Further
Info' page using the link on the left.
Shortly before midnight on 28th June, the northeast of Romania was hit by the
heaviest rainstorms since Romanian records began. Not only did Dorohoi
receive the brunt of this rain but the rivers in the town were unable to cope
with the waters from upstream. The resulting inundation has left 6 people dead
and hundreds of properties damaged, and deposited a layer of mud in houses,
gardens and cars.
The following figures have been
published in a Dorohoi local newspaper, which estimated the value of the losses
at the equivalent of 3,500,000 pounds:
local people killed;
houses damaged, 18 of which collapsed and 220 so severely damaged that they
have to be rebuilt;
institutions and commercial premises damaged;
bridges and 45 km of roads damaged;
hectares of agricultural land flooded;
animals and 2,500 domestic fowl killed.
From the front line ...
The RoAF team in Dorohoi has been very busy in the last week helping the people whose houses and livelihoods have been devastated by the floods which occurred early last week. We were able to provide immediate responses with drinking water, dry clothing, bedding and food from our stock already here, and with the arrival of aid from many outside sources we have switched to more involvement with advising those who want to help. The immediate threat has now largely passed as the floodwater works its way down the country towards the Danube and other areas become affected. The focus of the "first aid" follows the devastation but the long term problems of re-establishing people's way of life will persist for many months. We anticipate a difficult winter for many in the town, and trust that RoAF and its partners will have the resources to address these long-term needs.
Indeed, many people have lost their homes as well as their possessions, especially following the compulsory demolitions which are now in progress. There are groups of people sitting on the pavements watching their houses being bulldozed whilst a bit further along the street others are pulling out windows and tearing off roofing sheets so that they can use them again.
There is very little in the way of insurance and only limited practical help from the authorities so for many families it's a question of rebuilding something
asap. Romanian bank notes are waterproof but very few of the people who have been affected have bank accounts or viable credit ratings so they will be borrowing heavily at exorbitant rates. Some official help has been announced for later in the year, but it is our experience that the most needy won't actually qualify when it comes to it. How do you prove ownership of a property when neither the property nor the documents still exist?
Some portacabins have been brought in, for some of the families who were renting from the council. These are intended as temporary accommodation, but who knows how long it will take to rebuild enough council houses. One such site that I visited yesterday had about twenty such units and 4 portaloos to serve them. I guess that most people will make their own arrangements elsewhere pretty quickly!
Compared with the intense activity last week, this week has been relatively quiet. There has been a lot of attention from elsewhere in the country and loads of aid had been flowing into the area. In fact there is a glut of cheap clothing in parts of the town, so we need to ensure that the 'quality' clothing continues to come, both to cater for those who have the means to buy it and also to maintain the viability of AN for when the problems really start to bite later in the year.
Right now, it is very hot and dry; people are able to wash their possessions and live much of their lives outside. Later in the year it will start to get cold and those who have not been able to make suitable arrangements will really start to suffer. That is not to reduce in any way the impact of the disaster - many crops have been lost, both current food stocks and the harvest that should have provided for next year. One commercial grower has lost 8,000 tomato vines. Prices are, of course, rising throughout the range of necessities, whether that be food or building materials.
I have been in several of the houses that were flooded and it is difficult to find words to describe this sort of devastation. To think of it as similar to the effect of a burst pipe in the UK is but only the start. Some of these places have been under 5 feet of river water, with its mud and debris, which has stood for several days. Many of these houses had outside 'long-drop' latrines, the products of which are mixing with the water in the wells, plus several families kept horses and cows at home, adding to the mix. The photos tell much of the story, apart from the smell, of course!
There is very little in the way of household insurance here. One effect of this is that people get on with salvaging what they can and start cleaning up immediately. So many families have started this process, with some success, only to have the properties condemned a week later, due to the risk of disease from the contents of the flood water. There are several streets in Dorohoi where the majority of houses have been removed and the sites dozed - wide open spaces between the remaining stone-built properties and piles of personal possessions stacked by the kerbside.
Much of this cleared land is municipal property (a legacy of communist times) and rebuilding won't be allowed until the land has been decontaminated. It is unlikely that the municipality will have the resources to rebuild at any great rate and so people will remain in temporary accommodation for some time. The authorities have been prompt in bringing in portacabin style units but the longer-term prospects do not look good.
Immediate priorities are being addressed by many organisations bringing aid into the area - in this aspect Dorohoi was
(relatively) lucky in that it was the first area to be hit and much of the relief is focussed here, but it does mean that there are fewer resources left to address the later problems further downstream. One source suggested that up to a third of the populated area of the country has been affected by this event. Areas that we helped a couple of years ago have also been affected again - the immediate aid responses do not lead to permanent solutions.
As regards our priorities: We need to replenish those resources that we used
for our immediate response - food, clothing, bedding - and to ensure that AN is ready to help later in the year with more of the same. This also means that RoAF should continue to supply much as normal, to allow AN to function. There needs, perhaps, to be some changes in emphasis, concentrating on those three main items
mentioned but not neglecting the need for toys, household goods and, now, some
furniture. Much of what we need is already in the Horley warehouse but if people want to respond immediately then (in addition to the transport costs) we need items such as detergent and washing powder (non-automatic), additional bedding and foods such as pasta and rice.
Prayer support is, of course, essential, both for the people affected and for the members of our teams here.
With many thanks for your interest and support, Steve
More photos are available
on-line, here and
here, or read
from our colleagues at Hands
of Hope and
Those of you familiar with the Horley warehouse will know that we share the
premises as guests of Furnistore. This arrangement has worked well for the past
few years but Furnistore's lease on the premises will terminate in November so
RoAF is again looking for new warehouse facilities close to our Horley base.
- 150 sq mtr of storage space, with 3 mtr high stacking capacity;
- Approximately 50 sq mtr for packing and admin factivities;
- Access and parking for staff and visitors on Saturdays;
- Occasional access for staff mid-week, including evenings;
- Operational access for a 13 mtr articulated lorry for loading, not
exceeding 1 Saturday per month only.
Ups and downs in Wales
and a very big thank you to the four cyclists who biked from the north of
Anglesey to Mumbles in Swansea in aid of RoAF. 200 miles in 2 days cycling
around Snowdon and many other Welsh peaks was no mean feat and, rumour has it,
another even bigger expedition is planned for 2011. Many thanks to Mark
Skinner, Paul Clarke, Nathan Evans and Spencer Davies
who completed the trip, sympathy to Ian Fearn who trained for the trip
but who finished one training session in a ditch with a broken
collar bone amongst other injuries. Unfortunately Ian's cycling career was
on hold, but fortunately he was able to take these pictures and make the DVD
telling the story; also very fortunately he had already found a lot of sponsors
who generously still gave despite his non-appearance on the start line.
Total sponsored money promised is just over £1270 of which, at the time of
writing, all but £80 has been collected. The vast majority of the
sponsors have never given for RoAF before, so let these four plucky guys inspire
you to do something different to raise money for RoAF!
Practical ways to help ...
The year-round help that Asociatia Neemia
provides is based on the aid that it receives from RoAF and from other
charities, both in the UK and in Romania. Primarily, it is the provision of
clothing and food, plus household goods, some furniture and other pratical
assistance. To support this work, we need a continuous supply of aid items (see
list), sorted, packed and dispatched to
Dorohoi. Individuals and teams in various parts of the UK prepare these items
and forward them to one of our collection points. Practical activities include
helping to prepare goods, fundraising to cover the costs of warehousing and
transport or even coming to Dorohoi and getting involved at the sharp end.
The emergency response that AN has been able to
provide is taken from stocks of clothing, bedding and food that are held in
Dorohoi. As with previous emergencies, these stocks are used as required and
then replenished. The main need here is covering the cost of transport to
replace the goods that have been used (ie, fundraising) but if you do have bulk
supplies of these goods available then please get in touch.
Joy in a Box, 2010
Some 2,300 boxes were distributed before
Christmas 2009, to needy families and
individuals, and to children in schools, institutions and churches. The
January newsletter contained an insert showing some of the recipients of the
Christmas gift boxes. This link will take you to the site - link to
'Joy in a Box' site
Due to the team being
preoccupied with the Dorohoi situation, the 'Joy in a Box' documents have not
been updated yet. However, last year's information is still valid, with the
exception that the content expiry date needs to be changed to "April 2011".
This newsletter is published on behalf of the
Romanian Aid Foundation and Asociatia Neemia. For further
information or to be added to the newsletter mailing list please use
our response page or write to us using the
contact details below:
The Romanian Aid
179 Albert Road,
Horley, Surrey RH6 7HS or Oaklea,
Temple Bar, Lampeter, Ceredigion, SA48 8BQ
Aid Foundation is UK Registered Charity No. 1060828.
Spiru Haret nr 9, Dorohoi, Botosani, Romania.
This newsletter is
Romanian Aid Foundation, July 2010.
version in pdf: This
Newsletter ... Previous