The Romanian Aid Foundation
UK Registered Charity Nr 1060828
The Romanian Aid Foundation
with Asociaţia Neemia
Newsletter, June 2012
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From Steve in Romania: Summer, winter, springtime, harvest - some 15 years have now passed since the decision to formalise the activities of the Romanian Aid Foundation. Earlier visits had shown the scale of the needs, and also that they could not be addressed in an ad-hoc manner.
How much has changed but how little has changed too. A recent World Vision survey revealed that in rural areas of Romania only about 40% of children below the age of 2 are taken to a doctor; the majority of parents resorting to treating their children at home. For 12% of rural households the child allowance (£8 per month) is their sole income. 15 years ago, a single parent family with two children and a bit of land for crops could just about get by with the child allowance as their sole income - one allowance bought a bottle of gas for cooking and the other covered everything else. Now, despite the allowance having risen by a nominal factor of ten, two children’s allowances together barely cover the cost of the gas bottle, leaving very little for the other expenses.
Things are not much better for families in town. Without land for crops, everything has to be bought. Food, medicine and electricity prices are heading for western levels whilst incomes most certainly are not. Rents are less affordable than before, and now the family allowance can be suspended for those households in arrears. This, of course, only exacerbates matters and more and more people are turning to us for help. During the first four months of 2011 the Neemia office gave out some £800 in emergency cash help to people in need; for same period in 2012 the equivalent figure was £3,000.
Springtime follows the winter, a time of planting and fresh green shoots. But ironically, springtime brings its own problems - the stocks for winter are exhausted and promises for the harvest have yet to be fulfilled. The predominant need has switched from clothing to food. The food donated by Heinz and through the harvest collections has sustained many through this period, but it is now exhausted. As we approach the summer, the thoughts of some will turn towards holidays, whilst others will be making provision for next winter. Are you fortunate enough to be able to do both?
The Neemia shop is an important part of the activities in Dorohoi but occasionally we are asked to clarify its role in the aid distribution process. Here is a short FAQ:
Why have a shop?
The shop gives those local people who would not qualify for aid an opportunity to acquire good quality items at reasonable prices. This provides an income which underwrites the costs of the work of helping the needy.
Secondly, the shop provides employment and training opportunities for some local people, as shop assistants, stock controllers and administrators.
Finally, by bring us into contact with more people in Dorohoi, the shop raises the profile of our wider work in the town
Couldn’t you just give everything away?
In a word, no. We have a responsibility to those who support us to try to help those most people who are most in need. That requires a process for distribution and administration that itself incurs costs; wages, buildings, vehicles. Without the shop, these costs would have to be funded directly from the UK where it is more difficult to raise funds than it is to ask for donated items and a contribution towards transport costs.
In addition, when the shop generates a surplus, this is used to help in situations where simple donation of clothing or food would not be particularly effective. These situations include medical bills, serious rent arrears and other cases of personal distress.
Is there anything that you don’t sell?
We don't sell any of the food items, gift boxes, designated gifts or medical items. In addition, we respect any requests from donors that certain items are not to be sold. Sales are limited to approximately 15 % of the items received so that, for example, for every six garments that arrive, only one is sold and five are given away.
What happens to the stuff that doesn’t sell?
Items that don’t sell are returned to stock for donation to those in need, either through our programmed distribution to registered households or to those who call into the office. All these transactions are fully documented and independently audited.
The current lease for the shop expires early in 2013 and the owner has indicated a desire to sell the property. The present arrangements for rent and maintenance are very advantageous for us and it is very unlikely that a new owner would want to renew a lease on the same basis. This has serious implications for the future of the work in Dorohoi, and is a matter of concern to those closely involved. We invite you to pray with us that God will make His will clear to us.
One of our less-publicised activities in the office in Dorohoi is the donation of reading glasses. Many people here cannot afford to visit an optician so we keep a stock of second-hand spectacles and make them available to those who need them. It is not uncommon to hear visitors to the office reading aloud from a Christian magazine just to prove that they can see properly.
These glasses have been donated in the UK and we have the facility to make simple repairs before passing them on, so don’t discard your old specs - they might be just what someone here needs.
Another more unusual request was for help with the construction of a hen coop. A benefactor had donated some netting and funding for a family to have some hens, but they were unfamiliar with poultry keeping. With help from a more experienced family, the Neemia team was able to build the coop and settle the hens, who responded to their new surroundings by providing eggs straight away.
We have received some consignments of cake from south Wales. These cakes are often short-dated and have to be eaten fairly quickly, but there does not seem to be any shortage of volunteers to help with that task. The majority of the cakes do go to people in need, primarily those lucky enough to be on the donation schedule during the week or so after the load arrives.
We also received some baby milk and some ‘baby-bags’ containing baby-care products, knitted blankets and other necessities. These are invaluable for donation to young mums, many of who are unable to buy such things for themselves.
Once again we express thanks on behalf of those who received these items.
Nigel and Nicu reach out for the cakes but Sebi and his Mum prefer the milk and the blanket.
AN Donations during 2011
During 2011 the Neemia office in Dorohoi made a total of 4,353 individual donations to 1,460 registered households. These donations had a combined nominal value of some £57,600 based on inventory valuation. The majority of these items were supplied by the RoAF teams in the Surrey & Sussex area and in south Wales, at a cost of some £30,600 for warehousing, publicity and transport.
Operating costs in Romania amounted to some £41,000 including all salaries, taxes, building and vehicle costs. In addition, money donated to families (including sponsored support) amounted to £4,175. Most of this expenditure was funded from the shop, which itself is supplied by the stock arriving from the UK.
Highlights of the Distribution
Food, including biscuits …. 10 tons
Clothing and bedding ……. 48 tons
Stationery and toys …….... 3.5 tons
Bicycles and pushchairs …. 80 items
Bicycles are very popular at this time of year. We have received a batch of bikes which have been refurbished at Cardiff prison. Bicycles give pleasure to the children but more importantly they enable their parents to find work more easily - in one case reducing a 2½ hour walk to a 40 minute ride.
Earlier this year, we were asked to help with the distribution of 40 family gift boxes and some 2 tons of clothing supplied by Dorcas International in Holland. This is a follow-on from an initial collaboration before Christmas, and we hope that it will lead to further co-operation in the future.
We are able to help so many people only through the efforts and prayers of those who have made donations of time, goods and money. Thank you to you all.
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 see our contacts page.
The Romanian Aid Foundation
179 Albert Road, Horley, Surrey RH6 7HS
Oaklea, Temple Bar, Lampeter, Ceredigion, SA48 8BQ
The Romanian Aid Foundation is UK Registered Charity No. 1060828.
Str Spiru Haret nr 9 bk16, Dorohoi, Botosani, Romania.
This newsletter is © Romanian Aid Foundation, June 2012.
RoAF can now accept on-line donations towards our work in Romania.
© The Romanian Aid Foundation, September, 2014.