THE FAMILIES IN DIFFICULTY PROGRAM
„Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for life.”
„These words encapsulate precisely the approach that Casa Grace staff and volunteers take to help both the urban and rural poor communities of Bihor County, Romania to cope with the devastating effects of poverty on their lives.
Stuck in the cycle of poverty, while inflation and an unstable economy wreak havoc on their ability to make ends meet, many families turn to Casa Grace for help.
There is where the Families in Difficulty program comes in. Casa Grace provides financial, material, spiritual, emotional and educational support to qualified families in need, usually for a period of six months to two years, with a follow-up year of monitoring. To qualify for the services of the Families in Difficulty program, at least one adult member of the family must be employed so as not to create complete dependence on social services. In addition, children must attend school, a clear indication of the family’s belief in the value of education.
|Casa Grace’s method of providing these services begins first of all with assessing the needs of a particular family, and then developing a service plan. Initial aid is generally in the form of food, clothing, plus household necessities and materials that make a home safe and warm for frigid Romanian winters. In addition, Casa Grace staff and volunteers help families gain access to government assistance programs for which they qualify.
At the same time material assistance is being given, staff and volunteers also work on whatever spiritual, emotional, and/or educational problems hamper the family’s ability to break out of the cycle of poverty. Help often comes in the form of counseling to assuage the guilt, shame, and withdrawal associated with poverty. Casa Grace also helps in developing skills to assist in parenting and social reintegration, as well as spiritual assistance to provide hope and optimism for the future.
The Casa Grace staff believes that this multi-faceted approach to working with their clientele provides the support necessary to help them emerge from their predicament and eventually become a stable family unit, growing stronger and more capable of coping with the rigors of a difficult life.
Casa Grace currently assists dozens of urban and rural families in the Bihor County area of Romania, located in the northwestern corner of the country. Ethnically they include a mixed population of Romanian, Hungarian and Roma families whose religious affiliations vary from the Romanian Orthodox, Evangelical Christian, and Catholic faith communities. Casa Grace serves and aids only a small percentage of potential families who could qualify for services. As is often the case, a limited amount of staff, qualified volunteers, and funds prevent Casa Grace from expanding its services to this needy population.
Casa Grace also provides financial aid to help rural high school children gain access to school. While a high school education is free in Romania, families are responsible for getting their children to the high school. Since Romanian high schools are usually located in the larger towns and cities, poor rural families are frequently unable to handle the cost of transportation or the room and board required if the child is to stay at or near the high school.
We realize that the world is a big place, and there are poor and needy people in all countries. But Casa Grace’s purpose is to help those in our local community, since we cannot realistically save the entire world. God uses other ministries for those purposes, and He uses us to help the urban and rural poor of Bihor County here in northwestern Romania. We appreciate your interest in what we do here, and please pray as to whether God might be leading you to help these desperate people in some way.”