It's been three winters since Ecaterina's husband died of cancer.
Winter in Moldova is a tough time for people living in poverty. Seasonal work dries up, and there are far fewer opportunities to earn a living. At the same time, the cost of heating and electricity soars – and people like Ecaterina can feel as though they're drowning in troubles.
Ecaterina, 42, lives in a village in Moldova with her seven-year-old son, Sebastian, and her four-year-old twins, Alina and Carolina. The family lives in one room – on one side, there is a small kitchen, and next to it, the bed where the children sleep. Three laundry lines are suspended above the heating stove, with clothes hanging from them. Over the years, the house has sunk on one side due to weak walls and structural problems.
Ecaterina has done her best to take care of the house after losing her husband. She said, "Three years ago, when Vanea, my husband, was still alive, he started repairing the walls of this old and damaged house that belonged to our parents. When his health worsened and he wasn't able to do it anymore, I had to finish what he started. I bought cement, mixed it with some sand we had at home, and plastered the rest of the wall outside myself.
"Thanks to the little support I received from the state after Vanea's death, I managed to replace the windows. Before that, you could feel the wind blowing inside the house and the curtains fluttering."
Ecaterina earns some money doing seasonal work for local farmers in spring. "In winter, I do some cleaning work at a village store, but this doesn't cover all our needs," she added.
The family is enrolled in Mission Without Borders's family sponsorship program – and as well as receiving practical support, they are also visited regularly by Pavel, the MWB family worker.
Today, they were delighted when Pavel arrived at their home with briquettes for the winter and warm winter coats and boots for the children. The children were overjoyed, and Sebastian immediately put his shoes and jacket on.
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