Gingerbread is loved in Eastern/Central Europe and never more so than at Christmas. Our card, this year, was made by adults employed in the programmes run by Help4orphans in Moldova, one of Eastern Europe’s poorest countries.
People living in Moldova could be forgiven for feeling forgotten. It is not a country which the world usually hears much about. Perhaps, because it’s European, it’s easier to imagine dire poverty in other parts of the world? Whatever the cause, it and Ukraine are Europe’s two poorest nations. H4O works in Transnistria, a little known region on Moldova’s eastern border.
Rural areas may see people live on USD1.50 per day, in both. The average wage is about four times that. How, then, do parents parent when they can’t manage life’s basics? Some succumb to alcohol or other substance abuse which run high in the area. This leaves their children in need of care. Many simply leave, going either to Russia or into Western Europe where salaries are vastly higher. Their children too are left without care. A tiny 2% of the orphans in that region are actually without parents. The other 98% have living parents but they have gone with one or the other of these heartbreaking choices. The cost for the children is deep and potentially long lasting. They do not have the emotional support of the family unity, a stable parentage, a sense of cover and some may find themselves in highly vulnerable situations, of course, where they can be exploited.
An unsung hero among these young ones is Mark Fashevsky who set up H4O. This non-profit group works to improve the lives of these children by placing them in safe environments, in institutions and, increasingly, foster families, where they can grow to maturity and self-reliance. H4O also provides for those who have grown beyond the cover of their childhood care where they can be particularly vulnerable, and often in danger of human trafficking among other perils. They offer accommodation, mentoring, material aid, legal support, psychological assistance, vocational training (see pic below) and employment opportunities.
We have shipped goods many, many times to H4O to support orphans, institutions and foster families, as well as their offices and project bases.
It is an ongoing joy for us to partner up each year, in the production of the Crossroads Christmas card, with incredible friends around the world, doing work on the frontlines of poverty and need. As we prepare the cards this year, it’s people like Tatiana and Vlad who are in our minds. Their lives speak of deep suffering that is being relieved with comprehensive care. We join H4O in their longing to see every one of Moldova’s needy young lives in Transnistria protected from having to go through the same heartbreak.