• March 31, 2010

Monette, volunteer in Romania - The apostolate in “The Gregorescu”

“The Gregorescu”, visited by the Heart’s Home Volunteers in Deva since 1995 - Romania, 2006.

Monette M. went to Deva, Romania, in October 2008 for a 18-month Heart’s Home mis­sion. The fol­lowing text is an extract from her last Sponsors’ letter, in which she shares some moments of her apos­to­late in "The Gregorescu".

The poorest neigh­bor­hood we visit is called “The Gregorescu.” It was named after a famous Romanian artist, but the fact of the matter is that “The Gregorescu” used to be lit­er­ally, a pig stock turned into “housing” after the com­mu­nism. The people who live there and around there don’t call it, “the Gregorescu,” they still call it, “porcherie” – pick stock. This is the neigh­bor­hood that is filled with the most kids, there is also a lot of vio­lence, no pri­vacy, pros­ti­tu­tion and garbage is strewn about every­where.

One day, I was in the house of 14 year old Bete (Beatrice). It’s a favorite activity for the girls to do each others hair and the kids love it. I had noticed that Bete’s hair was very disheveled and in knots. I asked her if she would like me to brush it out for her and of course she agreed as all the girls do. It was taking a while to get all the knots out, but she really had beau­tiful, thick, dark hair. As I was brushing her hair, two other teens from the neigh­bor­hood came in. They sat down, and within a few min­utes, they started insulting Bete saying all sorts of ter­rible and vicious things. My first reac­tion was to get angry and tell them to stop – that I didn’t like what they were saying, but this only made them insult her all the more. Bete sat there heroically in silence taking their attacks, not trying to insult them back. And then sud­denly it dawned on me – the girls were jealous. Their insults were really cries of pain, what they them­selves believed. And the longer I am here, the more I see how many lies there are - in poor areas as well as affluent ones.We all want to believe the truth, but cling painfully to the lies we have been told. And what did these two girls, and Bete, want to believe but the truth: that they weren’t cre­ated for a “pig stock,” that they weren’t cre­ated to live in a vio­lent and garbage filled neigh­bor­hood; that they are three young women, all uniquely beau­tiful.

At the same time, in this neigh­bor­hood, there are many fam­i­lies who fight for the truth. One father, of a boy named Raul, I admired very much how he car­ried him­self with incred­ible dig­nity. The family didn’t have any money, so he went fishing in a nearby river to provide food for his family. He cleaned the fish with incred­ible care, and he spoke to his wife with utmost respect. One mother, Rita, was making sure her son would be clean for school the next day by having his father cut his hair and heating water on the “soba” for him to wash. They have incred­ible courage, even if their neigh­bor­hood’s “apparent” con­di­tion con­tra­dicts the dig­nity of the human person.

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