In winter, when its mountains and valleys are covered in snow, Moldova looks as pretty as a Christmas card. But the cold spell brings its challenges to families already burdened by poverty: higher bills for heating, the expense of warm clothing and footwear for ever-growing children, and less money coming in because there are fewer available jobs.
Life has been tough for Stela since her husband died six years ago. It is a constant battle scraping together enough money to keep her family fed and the bills paid.
“Winter may be a time of joy for many people, but for me, it’s an unwelcome guest,” says Stela Nastas, 46, a widow from northern Moldova.
She and her four children and grandson live in a two-roomed house where the air is heavy with damp and mould. There is no central heating, electricity, running water, or inside toilet. One stove serves for both cooking and heating the house.
“I was under so much pressure, and felt a great deal of stress and exhaustion,” she said. “I didn’t know how I was going to find the money to heat the house and where I’d find warm clothes for my kids. It was so hard to look at my girls and boy wearing lightweight jackets and worn shoes.”
Life changed for the Nastas family when they were enrolled on Mission Without Borders’ family sponsorship programme.