“Buy a goat! Give away a hen!” That's what our Christmas gift tips sound like before every single Christmas - but what happens to the animals afterward? Hundreds of families in Haiti and Romania know the answer to that question. We asked some of them, in rural Romania, to tell us for themselves.
The retired nurse Antonica guides us through the village. She is the fiery soul who has been given a key role in our contact with the Roma families. Her sewing course has turned unemployed mothers into entrepreneurs and her home visits form the basis of the efforts made in the homes. Five-year-old Anastasia and her parents happily greet us as we pass.
"Every time we visit them, the situation is improving," says Antonica. “We have given them pigs, sheep, chickens, goats, and a cow. When the cow gave birth to a calf the family gave it away to relatives. They've also shared chickens, and they've got a well to share with the neighbor.”
Father Romica, mother Alina, son Stefanut and daughter Anastacia have all been helped by the chickens they received.
Social worker Antonica visits Ionela, the mother of young children.
Our walk takes us on to the Grosu family. Ana is one of the mothers who took Antonica's sewing course. Together with her husband Vasilie, she has nine children.
"Our village is a little out of the way, and we live a little out of the way in the village. No one had visited us until the Star of Hope came here. It has been a great help to us," says Ana.
In the last six years, everything has changed for the family. The livestock they received continue to multiply. Two goats have turned five and a couple of hens have turned 35.
10-year-old Amalia Grosu proudly shows off her chicken.
"That means we have eggs all the time," says Ana. "We have a cow that gives us milk, and the goats give us ten kilos of cheese a year!"
Every animal is a poverty fighter. The children are no longer hungry when they go to bed. They no longer freeze because they lack clothes and no longer have to stay home from school because they lack shoes.
“We have gotten much better. Look at our new nice house! Wow, so much has happened. And my husband has stopped drinking and is taking much more responsibility. He takes good care of the animals and has been good at building the new house. Now I hope he stops smoking too!” says Ana and laughs.
Eight-year-old Stefania and her family have received two goats and a dozen chickens from Hoppets Stjärna.
"The first goat we got is called Diana," says Stefania.
“It's the brown one out there by the road. The newer one is called Puffy. I like both! I usually chase them, but I never catch up!”
Stefania's mother Cornelia supplements the grocery bag by growing vegetables in the backyard and picking mushrooms in the forest.
"The animals have helped us a lot!" she says. "Now we have milk, eggs, and cheese constantly. We have given some chickens to my mother and neighbors, so they can eat eggs. I gave a goat kid to my brother, and of course, he is very happy. We help each other."
What do you want to say to the supporters who bought the animals for you? “I thank them from the bottom of my heart! We have a better life now. I have food on the table every day for my whole family. Thanks!"
Stefania and the goat Diana.
Eight-year-old Stefania and family. "We have had a better life," says the mother, Cornelia.
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