Bringing warmth to the cold of winter

Winter Rescue programs help heat homes and bring hope to those in need

"I don't remember the last time my children got something new..."

It’s been three winters since Ecaterina’s husband died of cancer; three winters of trying to keep her children warm and well fed on her own.

Winter in Moldova is a tough time for people living in poverty. Seasonal work dries up and there are far fewer opportunities to make money. At the same time, the cost of heating and electricity soars – and people like Ecaterina can feel as though they’re drowning in trouble.

Ecaterina, 42, lives in a village in Moldova with her three children, seven-year-old Sebastian and her four-year-old twins, Alina and Carolina. She 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 the needs we face,” she said.

The family live in one room – on one side, there is a small kitchen, and next to it, the bed where the children sleep. Three washing lines are strewn above the heating stove, with clothes hanging from them.  On the wall, there’s a drawing of flowers that Ecaterina put there to hide some of the cracks. Over the years, the house has sunk down on one side because of the weak walls and structural issues. While it may be in very poor condition, the house is still a shelter for the family, providing a roof above their heads.


Ecaterina lights the stove that serves as the single heat source in the family's one-room houseEcaterina lights the stove that serves as the single heat source in the family's single-room house.

Ecaterina has done her best to take care of the house after the loss of 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 and mixed it with some sand we had at home and I 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 would be fluttering.”

Mission Without Borders (MWB) supports families and elderly people living in poverty to survive through the winter by providing warm winter clothing and boots, and firewood or briquettes. Ecaterina and her children are enrolled in MWB’s family sponsorship program – and as well as receiving practical support, they are also visited regularly by Pavel, the family coordinator.

For widows and single parents like Ecaterina, the state provides a small monthly allowance until the child turns three years old, after which he is able to attend kindergarten and the parent can theoretically get a job. In reality, it’s not easy to find work and juggle it alongside childcare. Ecaterina’s needs are great and without the support of MWB, she would struggle to manage.

Recently the family was delighted when Pavel arrived at their home with briquettes for the winter, as well as warm winter coats and boots for the children. He also brought the food parcel they regularly receive. The children were overjoyed, and Sebastian immediately put his new boots and jacket on.

Pavel gives Sebastien a new donated winter coat.MWB Coordiantor Pavel gives Sebastian a new donated winter coat.

“OK, tomorrow I'm going to school like this!” the little boy said happily, running through the muddy yard.

“He says that from today onwards, he will only wear this coat,” said Ecaterina. “And my new boots, too!” Sebastian added with enthusiasm. Ecaterina said, “I don't remember the last time my children got something new."

“I’m also thankful for the pasta and rice Pavel brings us; this helps us a lot to save up to buy other things we need.”

The twins, Alina and Carolina, also excitedly put on their new coats and boots and began running around. One took the cat in her arms; the other went to have fun on the swing. On this cold, muddy day, the children’s lively energy filled the gloomy yard with joy. Even their old house seemed to light up in their presence.

After all the excitement, Ecaterina and the children went inside to warm up. Ecaterina lit the fire, putting some heating briquettes on.

Ecaterina said, “We can keep our home warm now, thanks to these briquettes that Pavel brought us. Sometimes I still buy some firewood for lighting the fire, or I use twigs from the vineyard if there are any left, but the briquettes keep the ember burning for a long time. They save us and make our home warm enough for the three coldest months of the winter. This way I have enough money for kindergarten and school."

The kids can now play outside in the snow and stay warm with their new winter gear donated through MWB's Operation Winter Rescue programs.
The kids can now play outside in the snow and stay warm with their new winter
gear donated through MWB's Operation Wnter Rescue programs.




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