Above all, what Sonia wants most is to offer her daughter, Paula, who is 12, a better life. After breaking up with her husband in 2007, Sonia, 57, has no financial support from Paula’s father, and her monthly income is 800 lei only. A large part of the money is spent on medicine, as the mother has several health problems, and little remains for daily expenses, clothing, footwear, school stationery and rent.
But Sonia and Paula’s most serious problem is the lack of a house: they do not own their own home, so they are permanently moving around looking for cheap accommodation.
In late 2017, when their case came to the attention of Hope and Homes for Children, the mother and daughter lived without a rent contract in Sibiu, in a scarcely furnished room for which they paid a monthly rate of 500 lei. Sonia was desperate and worried that her health did not allow her to hold a well-paid job; soon enough, she had to look for a new place to live with the girl. She found a place in a parish home that also provides community assistance services somewhere in the Sibiu county
When she was visited by the Hope and Homes social workers, Sonia told them their story in a tearful voice: “For us, the 500-lei rent was too much. We went to the Sibiu Municipality to ask for a subsidized house, but we did not manage to get one. I was guided by a social worker who directed me towards the parish, who offered me a room. The conditions are much better and we feel safe, even if only for a while. I pay 250 lei monthly, for the time being, and I also do chores in the household and yard, especially at the sheep pen, as long as my health allows. But I don’t know what comes next and how long we can stay here. Paula often tells me: Mom, I don’t want to move around all the time. I don’t know what to say to that. We simply hold each other and cry together.”
Paula is a hard-working pupil, but she finds some subjects difficult. She doesn’t have many friends at school and the is discriminated and labelled by some colleagues because of her poverty. Even so, she is trying hard to study so as not to upset her mother.
The Hope and Homes for Children social workers assessed the family’s situation and drafted an intervention plan, deciding to include the family in the child-family separation prevention programme, sponsored by KRUK Romania among other sponsors. Starting in February 2018, as part of the programme, Hope and Homes for Children covers the monthly rent, the fee for Paula’s private tutoring, the cost of food, medication for the mother, personal hygiene products, clothing and footwear. The family also received a wardrobe and a desk where Paula can do her homework. At the same time, the mother will receive counselling on the efficient management of basic resources and to help her find a suitable source of income, given her poor health.
Sonia and Paula are grateful for all the support received, which is more than they ever dreamed of, as they were not used to being helped. They feel more at peace now and they hope that their greatest dream, to have a quiet life in a place of their own, will become reality.
This intervention was part of the child-family separation prevention programme initiated by Hope and Homes for Children in 2001. The programme has so far enabled 28,436 children to remain with their families. KRUK Romania has been one of the programme sponsors since 2017.