"They did not think it was possible"

A chance to dream: the lives of elderly changed in Romania

"I am alone. Nobody visits me."

In a quiet home for the elderly in a village in Romania, an 87-year-old man celebrates his birthday.

“I used to work at the brick factory, then my wife died and my daughter-in-law did not want me with them,” said Gheorghe, who has lived in the nursing home since 1999. “I am thankful for what I have here.”

At the ring of a bell, the residents all enter the dining room, sit in their favourite spot and enjoy birthday cake and soda in honour of Gheorghe.

Chivuta, the main cook at the home, said, “They never switch tables – they are used to what they know. I think it gives them a sense of security.”

She added, “A lot of the elders are alone and nobody visits them.

“Gheorghe’s daughter-in-law only visited Gheorghe here until she was sure the apartment was hers. He lost his house to them as well.”

They had stopped dreaming, and the Mission gave them the chance to dream.Family care at home is the most widely used care option for dependent elderly people in Romania. However, that means that people like Gheorghe can end up in a very vulnerable position if their family members are absent or unwilling. There is a major shortage of nursing homes in Romania and already there are long waiting lists.

Mission Without Borders (MWB) provides financial support to Gheorghe’s nursing home to help support its running costs. Residents also receive gifts on their birthdays of clothes, toiletries and sweets, and there is an annual trip so the residents have a chance to go on holiday.

The elderly people at the home can attend Christian fellowship every Sunday and are also given support and counselling.

Dan Popa, who works at the Elder Care home, said that MWB’s input had changed the residents’ lives. “They did not think it was possible for them to have such a new experience of a holiday at this age. They had stopped dreaming, and if you will, The Mission gave them the chance to dream.

“There have been many people who got to know a reality that was completely foreign to them their entire lives: the reality of the love and presence of God and the need for a relationship with him.”

35%

35% of elderly people in Romania face poverty and social exclusion, almost double the EU average. (Source: Ernst & Young)

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