In Eastern Europe, many children growing up in poverty are also living with the reality of absent parents. A lack of adequately paid work drives many fathers and mothers to take on seasonal work abroad in order to provide for their families. Children grow up missing out on the nurturing and protection they need, and their education is often affected too.
Denis, 13, lives in Romania – a country where over 90,000 children have parents who are working abroad. Denis' father died when he was a little boy – and while he now has a stepfather, both his stepfather and his mother often have to work abroad to make ends meet. When his stepfather is home, there is a lot of conflict between him and Denis' mother. For children like Denis, home doesn't always feel safe. There's poverty, strife, and upheaval when one or both parents go abroad.
But Denis has been enrolled in Mission Without Borders' child sponsorship programme, and he's been taken under the wing of Cosmin, a MWB volunteer, along with Cosmin's family. Cosmin and his parents own a farm, and Denis is often found there, feeding chickens, caring for the calves, and driving the cart. Cosmin has become a father figure to Denis, and Cosmin's father, a grandfather. And last summer – two weeks before he turned 13 – Denis had the chance to attend MWB's summer camp. And what a gift it was for Denis – playing football on an actual football field, eating sweets several times a day, jumping on the trampoline in an attempt to touch the sky, laughing so hard his belly hurt, painting T-shirts or Bible pictures and banners, drawing, zip-lining, singing his heart out, and hearing and learning about the One who made it all possible. Happily for Denis, Cosmin was his group leader at summer camp – and Denis loved having extra time with him.