Article by Vodafone Foundation

“When we saw the hundreds of volunteers on the construction site we could not believe our eyes. They were young people that could go spend their free time differently, but they chose to give themselves away”
5 December 2016

Marius and Manuela Zarioiu have 6 children. We found Judith, 3 years old, sleeping. About Theo, who is 3, her father told us she gets sad when her older brothers take their sandwiches and leave for school. So she also receives a sandwich that she silently enjoys in the kitchen. Rebeca is in her pre-school class and the first thing she shared with us was about moving in the new house that was “fun, meaning that I liked it a lot”. The most she liked was when she got to pick out her room that she would share with Pufi and Bela, her plush toys. Delia (14 yrs), the oldest, studies at a german school, and so do her siblings, Sara (9 yrs) and Alexandru (12 yrs). She wants to become a doctor and her passion is to play the piano.

They all moved from Brasov to Cristian, in a house of their own, 3 years ago.

Previously, Marius and Manuela lived in a dorm-room, sharing the bathroom with other inhabitants. They were already at their third child and it was becoming a burden to live between the four walls.

“One day a good man came by and asked us if we wouldn’t like to inhabit his apartment. We tidied it up and lived there for 6 years. Then the apartment was put up for sale and we had to move again. We knew Andrei from Diaconia Association. He asked us if we wouldn’t like to receive a house. We thought he was joking. How can he ask you if you want a house?! We couldn’t believe it when after a couple of months he told us we were chosen to receive the house”, told us Manuela Zarioiu.

The house we moved in three winters ago has 75 m
2 and is part of a duplex group that was build in Cristian county, Brasov. Although it seems similar to a sci-fi scenario, after the foundations were ready, the four duplexes were built up in time record: one week! The beneficiary families worked at the buildings together with 400 Vodafone volunteers and the construction specialists.

“When we saw the hundreds of volunteers on the construction site we could not believe our eyes. They were young people that could go spend their free time differently, but they chose to give themselves away, to work here, on the construction site, for us. It was impressive, I can’t describe in words what I felt”, remembers Marius.

From the “Bug house” to the 85 m
2 home. “I started crying…”

Among the social houses project’s beneficiaries there was family Siraciov that we recently visited. On the last day of December 2015, Loredana (35 yrs), Sașa (35 yrs), and their 3 children, moved from an overcrowded and insanitary home, into an 85 m
2 house. The youngest of the family, Matei, 7 yrs, insisted on telling us about “the old house”.

“We were previously inhabiting the «Bug house». There were bugs everywhere. It’s good enough they didn’t get in bed at night. We had bunk beds, someone gave them to us. We couldn’t play, the house was small, small. You would take three steps and it ended. No one would visit us”, said Matei, while playing with Olaf, a cat they got “for free, from olx”, an online trading website.

The news that they would get a house of their own was like a dream they ceased hoping for, Matei’s mom tells us emotionally.

“2-3 years ago someone came for a social investigation. They told us there were 20 families out of which 4 must be selected to move in new houses. We prayed every evening, and the children prayed all the time, that we would get a house. I can’t describe what I felt when we were announced that we were selected after the social investigation. We started crying…”, remembers Matei’s mother, that had never had a proper home, not even in her childhood. The 7 members of her family lived in an annex, at a cattle’s farm. “In the morning I would go to my mom who was milking the cows. She would wash her hands, braid my hair, tie my white ribbons, and then I left for school”, shares Loredana Siraciov a memory of her childhood.

At 16 she moved to Brasov and found a job. After 8 working hours at a linen factory, she would do the house cleaning for two different families. She met Sașa, her husband, in Brasov. During the day he worked in the marketplace, selling bicycle parts and different tools, and during the night he worked as a ward. At 24 years old, they married.

When she gave birth to Matei, the other two kids were 3 and 4 years old.

“A friend came over to visit and brought me chicken and mashed potatoes. Sașa was at work. We found it very hard in the small home we had”, adds Loredana.

“I, for example, do not have a house of my own, but I am glad that we could offer these disadvantaged families a place in which they can develop”, says Andrei Politic, responsible for implementing Diaconia’s projects.

In Cristian there are 12 disadvantaged families that received social houses in the last four years. The duplexes were built step by step: four in 2012, then other four in 2013, and others in 2015. The project financed by Vodafone Romania Foundation and completed in partnership with Diaconia Ajutor International Association, is presently the largest volunteering program for house building belonging to a corporate Romanian foundation.

Last year, approximately 400 Vodafone Romania employees took part in the volunteering program of building social houses, together with the beneficiary families, and also a team of construction specialists.
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