Collecting firewood in Transnistria

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17,940 of your shoeboxes went to a country called Transnistria, a small, and mostly unrecognised independent state, formerly part of Moldova.

Our partners there know where to deliver your shoeboxes because they work day-in, day-out to help the most vulnerable families.

At this time of year, keeping warm and fed is the top property and here is one story of a family they were able to help:

“Every year we organize help with firewood and food for poor and large families during the difficult winter period. On our list for help there are 30 families who need firewood and food. More than once we come to families who throw the last firewood into the stove; or because there’s no forests on this side of the river, they wait for severe frosts in order to cross the river (which is the border) with sledges to go into the forest at the risk of being caught by the police. The cold weather forces them to take this risk and their homes usually don’t have much furniture inside because they’re using it as firewood.

Ana* has five children. Her husband is dead. She lives very poorly. But she is not discouraged; she grew up in a large family – there were 14 children. It is difficult to get a job with so many children in their arms, and especially if you are also a gypsy. Working wherever she could, Ana bought a house in a bad condition for €300. Due to the fact that the house is like that, it is impossible to connect it to gas. In winter and summer, food for children has to be cooked on wood. There are no windows in the house; the old frames are covered with a plastic film, so that the heat does not go away. A day before our arrival with firewood, we came to look at the situation in the family, we did not find Ana at home, but only her sister, who lives in the neighborhood. She told us that Ana goes to the river for firewood, while there was ice she crossed to the other side of the Dniester, dragged firewood in a wheelbarrow to this side, and only then dragged them to the house. On the next day, when she saw a car with firewood driving along the road, and she was on her way home on a minibus, she said to her eldest daughter: “this firewood is being brought to us”, to which her daughter answered, “Mum, how is this possible, who would care about us that much?” … When the car with firewood really drove up to the house, Ana didn’t know what to say from happiness. Only one thing: “God has not forgotten about me and my children.”

*Ana’s real name has not been used