Dear Friends and Supporters,

Since our last newsletter lots has been happening! In December 2010 Jean and Karen visited Jibou just after the shoebox gifts had arrived. Jean and Karen spent a busy week helping to distribute some of the gifts to children throughout Jibou and district. On a snowy Sunday evening they gave out some of the gifts for babies under one year old to the Roma community in Jibou, assisted by Solomon and Rodica. It was snowing heavily as they went round house to house to give out the much needed items, which included baby clothing, blankets and toiletries.

At other times various other gifts were given out to the toddlers, and on a separate occasion Christmas packages for widows and widowers were given out, including socks and blankets.

Hands of Hope Romania also provided shoebox gifts for some non-Roma families and Jean and Karen visited some homes in Jibou with Lacry, to give out gifts. Jean and Karen were also able to visit a family of ten children in the village of Cecu on the way to Zalau to give out gifts. Their eldest child, aged fifteen, had just been admitted to hospital with a broken leg and we were able to assist the family with some of the costs.

During the visit, Jean, who is a qualified teacher, spent some time working with Rodica at the local school assisting with her lessons and working directly with the children to do various tasks including preparations for displays. The children really enjoyed the creative input that Jean was able to give!

Overall it was a successful trip and during the visit Jean and Karen were able to liaise with Victor and Solomon to re-start food packets for widows and widowers for twenty-two people in the Roma community. These individuals now receive a substantial food-packet once a month. There are also nine other families that Hands of Hope assist in Jibou.

At Easter 2011 Sarah visited Jibou. Sarah was able to meet with the group of Roma widows who were all very pleased to be receiving food packets again. It’s perhaps hard for us to appreciate in the UK how difficult it is for that group of people to manage, but the packets do make a vital difference.

Sarah was able to catch up with some of the families we have assisted over the years within Jibou, including a young woman with a child whose mother had recently passed away. We were able to assist with a contribution to her utilities (gas) which, despite wages being at least ten times less than the UK, are about the same cost as in the UK.

Sarah was able to visit the social work department in Zalau with a friend Daniel, who showed her around the projects they run there including a cantina/food kitchen for Roma people. While in Jibou Sarah was able to take a group of twenty-two Roma children on a picnic with Solomon to the river Somes near Jibou. The children were able to enjoy salami, juice and sausages provided by Hands of Hope, while playing a variety of games. To us here in the UK it sounds like simple fun, but to the children it was a special treat that they would not otherwise enjoy.

Hands of Hope have been supporting two young people in higher education and it is congratulations to Julia for completing her Masters degree in genetics and Bianca for completing her degree on European Studies. They have both been studying at Babes Boylai university in Cluj. Well done to both of them! We also cannot forget our very own Sarah White who has just obtained a First Class degree from Edge Hill University in Social Work Studies. Well done Sarah!

For those of you who are energetic out there, it will be the third Walk of Hope on Saturday the 3rd of September. The walk has expanded since we began in 2009 and we are working together with other local charities such as the Maisy Rose Project and Twinkle House to make the event bigger and better than ever. There will be a family walk, of a couple of miles for children run by the Maisy Rose Project, and two other walks of either 18 or 25 miles depending on your fitness level. See the website www.walkofhope.co.uk for further details of how you can enter. There will also be stalls and activities on the day at the finish that you can enjoy even if you don’t wish to do any walking. Please get involved or promote the event where you can as it has become a major source of income for Hands of Hope that supports our activities in Jibou.

Thank you once again for your support both financial and otherwise: we cannot run Hands of Hope Romania without you, and even the smallest donation can make a big difference for children and adults in Jibou who are living in severe poverty, as a little can go a long way.

Thank you.

The Hands of Hope Team