- August 19, 2008
- By Haley Smith, Baptist Child & Family Services
When about 500 houses were flooded and 4,300 people evacuated from the northern and central districts of Moldova, the Kerrville volunteers were among more than 1,500 relief workers who responded with humanitarian aid. The Central Texas team worked with CERI, the international arm of Baptist Child & Family Services, to distribute food, clothes and shoes. The volunteers also gave the children balloons, which brought joy and smiles in the midst of tragedy.
“We were faced with tough questions like, ‘Was it God who allowed this to happen to us?’ as we prayed with the people whose houses had been badly damaged by the flood waters,” said Connie Belciug, national director of CERI in Moldova.
Many flood victims were elderly, discouraged and depressed by the tragedy, realizing that an entire life’s work was lost, she noted. Houses and gardens were ruined, and most would not have the money to rebuild, leaving expectations for a rough winter ahead.
“It was a very sad day for both the locals and the Americans, but a rewarding experience nonetheless,” Belciug said. “We were honored to have the team from Kerrville who brought hope to the people of Moldova.” In the flood’s lingering aftermath, CERI continues to bring aid in partnership with the United Nation’s Children’s Fund, delivering school supplies to families affected by the flood. CERI is working to bring immediate relief by helping build 200 homes and purchase vaccines for the children.
In addition to providing disaster relief in Moldova, CERI is involved in ongoing ministry projects in the Eastern European country. Every winter, volunteers and staff personally put new boots and socks on the feet of every child in government care—about 16,000.
Summer and winter, CERI hosts teams to lead camps for children in the Moldovan orphanages and surrounding villages.
A transition program helps shield girls who age out of orphanages at age 16 from the active recruiters of the worldwide sex trade, as well as provide a mentorship program, teach independent living skills and help pay for housing and school expenses.
The agency also has provided a full-time consultant for two years to help the government move its child and family care program from the mass housing model of the Soviet era to a family-assistance and foster care approach.