Als Stichting Linquenda ondersteunen wij Attila Toth in zijn werk voor en met de ROMA. In Roemenië zijn de ROMA een achter gestelde bevolkingsgroep, mede waardoor zij leven in grote armoede. Al 15 jaar werkt Attila onder de ROMA en zijn er diverse projecten opgestart. Het laatste daarvan is een 2e hands winkel, die we vanuit Nederland bevoorraden.
Hieronder leest u iets over het werk van Attila en Adel
My name is Attila Toth, and I am a pastor in Romania. For the last 15 years, I have been working with the Roma, gipsy people in the Reghin area. This includes the town of Reghin, and the communities of Apalina, Peris, Gornesti, and Glodeni. There are many Roma living in each of these communities. It was only through working each day with these people that I really started to see and understand the needs that exist here. Since the very first day we needed to face the huge poverty issue, lack of education and a huge spiritual need.
As I started to see the needs of the people, I also realized the need for a legal organization with the ability to do something about these needs. In the last seven years, we have worked to set up two associations which operate within the legal system of Romania. Through these organizations, we have started work in several areas that we see as beneficial to the Roma community. These include educational programs, an orphanage/family home, self-sustaining projects, and working to train local leaders.
I personally believe that one of the problems that is causing the big poverty is the lack of education. Many of them have no school and cannot read and write and of course because of this cannot find a proper job. Our educational efforts center around working mostly with children in after-school and preschool programs. The after-school program was created to encourage students in the middle grades (years 1-8) toward further studies in high school. We have seen successes with this program and are looking to expand this in the future.
A) Apalina Afterschool Program
Each day, about 50 students in Apalina from the local school in years 1-8 come to our program. Most of these students’ parents have no work, so their situation at home is very difficult. Attendance in the local school is required, and those who do not attend regularly are not allowed to attend our program. During a normal day, there are two periods of study with a healthy lunch between. We provide the lunch because, for many, this is the only meal they will have each day. We have divided the children into three groups and are working with them on their level of ability. One group of students is learning to read and write, while the others work on more difficult material. Alongside instruction in basics such as reading, writing, and math, we are teaching important life-skills (such as patience, respect, and responsibility). It is our goal that when these students finish four years in our program, they will be better prepared for high school, and for life in general.
We also have classes for teaching adults to read and write. Each time we offer this kind of class, there are many who wish to attend. There are many adults in the Roma community who lack these basic skills. We would like to offer more classes for adults in the future.
In Glodeni, there are more than 1,000 Roma, most of whom are uneducated. Our association there started a preschool program to be able to give them a chance to be prepared for success in school. There are two groups, with two teachers. Many of these kids do not even know their own names. We are teaching them basics such as the alphabet, colors, and numbers. We also have two classes for those who cannot read and write to teach basic literacy. These classes are attended by young people and adults from the community. In each of these programs, all attendees receive a meal for lunch.
2. New Life Children,s Home
The idea to start an orphanage is not a new one. Since I am working as a pastor here I see so many orphan or semi orphan children in these communities. Several times happened one of the children asked me if they can come and stay at our home. Our desire is to create not just an orphanage, but a family home. Our vision is to have one set of parents who will take in these children as their own. The home would provide for the basic needs of food and shelter. However, it would also provide care and instruction and a safe home environment for these children. We want this to be a place where these children grow up knowing they are loved and cared for. It will be a place where they will grow up learning how to provide the same things for their families in the future.
In the year 2015, we were able to purchase a property in Peris. Since then with the help of many different people we were able to build a very beautiful building, with many rooms as the local law requires for the children homes. The building is 90% ready. Hopefully by the end of the year the first children can come and start a New Life here.
Even though I have been working among Roma here since 15 years now, I am still shocked how poor some families are among them. There are hundreds of families without any income or very small income and because of that many of them are literally starving. Most of them are going to garbage can to find some food there or the young ladies are doing prostitution to be able to feed their children. My heart is breaking especially for children when they are saying that they are without any food for days. We know that giving them food is not resolving the poverty, but for immediate need we set up a little foodbank where the most needy family can come and we can give them some food that lasts (potatoes, oil, rice, can meat, pasta, corn flour, flour, canned vegetable or something similar) which help them surviving for a few days. During this pandemic we were able to provide hundreds of food packages thanks to our generous friends whom supported this.
4. Steps toward Self-sustaining
All the work what we did so far (church planting in 6 different location, afterschool, kindergarten, children camp, conferences and training, building the New Life Home) in this area we did with the help of generous sponsors. As the ministry grows, especially as we are planning to open the orphan house, more and more support is needed. We felt the need to find some way that we can generate some income locally to support our work. So far we have 3 ideas, but we are very open to new ideas too.
A) Polly Tunnels
At the back of the Children’s Home in Peris, we already have 3 polytunnels where we are growing vegetables like, onion, radish, salad, tomatoes, green beans and cucumber. The plan is that we use for some of the vegetable to feed the children in the house but most of the vegetable is for sale to generate income for our work. In the coming years we want to build 3 more polytunnels to grow the amount what we can grow there.
B) Second hand shop
Next to the orphanage there is an old building that we are starting to renew. If we can find organizations who can provide goods, our plan is to open a secondhand shop there. Because this is located next to a very busy road and in that area are no secondhand shops we think that this would be a very good and easy way to generate income for our work.
One of the greatest needs among the Roma people is to find work so that’s why we were thinking in our self-sustaining search to find the kind of work what the Roma people can do to generate income for them and also help our work. That’s how the farm idea came. Because, that is work most of our people can do. Next to Glodeni we purchased 8 hectars of land where we starting to set up a special kind of pig farm. These pigs are living outside, eating grass and grain and the meat is healthier than normal pigs. Next to the pigs we started to grow some plants called hippophae (acai berries). They are very popular here because of the effect that the berries have on immune system. We are at the very beginning in this project still a lot of investment and development is needed.