A Romanian social worker has thanked "the wonderful people of Jersey" for their help in providing bread to struggling families in the country.
Jersey Mustard Seed – a local charity that aims to ease suffering in Eastern Europe – recently shared the testimony of Nelu Ralu, a Romanian social worker, which speaks to the impact of their ongoing Bread for Life project.
"The people are very thankful for this bread," he said, explaining that people often arrive an hour before to wait for their loaves.
The project provides 70 Romanian families with one or two loaves of bread, twice a week.
Pictured: Mustard Seed sends aid to Romania to provide relief to the country's poorest and most vulnerable.
Mustard Seed is most well known for the annual Christmas Shoe Boxes which provide much needed items – from hats and scarves to writing materials and toiletries – to adults and children living primarily in the Bihor county of Romania. However, the charity also provides year round aid to struggling communities.
The Mustard Seed Bread for Life Appeal first began in 2011, when Nelu approached Mustard Seed asking them if he could use the funds they were providing him with to purchase loaves of bread for families who were struggling to feed themselves.
On the project, Rose Pallot, the founder and co-ordinator of Jersey Mustard Seed, said: "About 10 or 15 years ago I realised that, while providing Christmas Shoe boxes was a great idea, if the family was going to starve to death over the winter then we weren't going to do them any favours."
As such, during the winter of 2011-2012, Mustard Seed were able to fund bread from late November till the end of the winter. They helped over 50 vulnerable families in that first year.
At the time, they estimated that a mere £6 would provide bread to the average Romanian family for a week.
Rose was keen to point out that the situation in Romania can still be particularly dire for the most vulnerable.
"In Romania, the rich are very rich," she explained. "There is a small middle ground where people can get along just fine, but then you have the absolute poorest...and the gap between the richest and the poorest is really quite great."
In particular, the winter can be a huge source of suffering for Romanians, as people often have to choose between feeding their families and heating their homes.
This choice can be a fatal one. Rose recalled that a Romanian girl once went missing during the winter months. After a search, they sadly found that she had frozen to death in a basement.
Pictured: There is still great need for aid among Romania's poorest.
On top of this, elderly or sick Romanians are particularly vulnerable.
Rose said: "They don't have the social security benefit we do and some of them either can't work or can only work for a short time. They may get a small pension but it isn't enough to live on."
She added: "These people are really grateful for the support we can give them, and they really can't manage without it."
Mustard Seed are also working to put together an aid consignment for Ukraine. Last year, volunteers drove aid over the Romanian border into Ukraine. Of the 3000 shoe boxes sent over the Romania, approximately half went to Ukrainian refugees.
Rose hopes the latest consignment of aid will be ready to leave in late-April or early-May this year.
For more information about the work of Jersey Mustard Seed, you can click HERE.
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