A Matter of Life and Death: The Urigiuc Family
by Iana Bejaniyska, UNICEF Consultant
Their mud brick house had always been damp. Even before the floods it was not up to scratch to raise children healthily. Stefan died at barely three years from a chest infection. The poor living conditions had contributed to his illness. Now Razvan, their youngest, who recently turned two, might also be at risk.
Daniela and her husband worry. They cannot take Stefan out of their heads. They often address Razvan as Stefan, haunted by the memory of the boy they lost. They have a teenage son too, Andrei. But the little one is their main concern. He has had a bad cough. To them it is a matter of life and death. They want life for their toddler.
After the June floods this year the Urigiucs have been struggling to make their home habitable again. Both parents used to make decent money as ceramics painters but the craft is no longer in demand and they have hit upon hard times. In July the local authority provided gravel and sand, free of charge, but there is little they can do with it. Timber, paint, insulation materials and a good heating system are beyond their means. Yet they are indispensable if Razvan is to stay healthy and not suffer like his late brother.
Although he is a smiley, sociable and energetic child, cared for with much love, Razvan has clearly been affected by the floods. Deep down in his mind, water equates fear. He has not got the vocabulary yet to describe what he feels but he is often restless at night, afraid that the big water might come to get him someday soon. When he sees his mum hosing down the carpet in the front yard, his little face contorts with fear.
How can UNICEF help the plight of this particular family? With the unemployment figure in Dorohoi standing at an estimated 70-80%, the Urigiucs cannot hope to earn enough to make their home sound any time soon.
A couple of years ago they had taken out a loan to deal with the damp so the new baby would not develop Stefan’s fatal condition. The June floods dashed their hopes to raise Razvan in a damp free house. Overnight all their efforts crumbled as one of the walls collapsed, the rest soaked with water more than half way up. The floors were soggy and mould began to appear everywhere.
In the aftermath of the disaster they rolled up their sleeves and rebuilt the wall with rubble, removed all the soggy plaster and dug up the damaged floors. That is what they could do with their bare hands, child benefit being their only income at present.
Now UNICEF and Habitat for Humanity have stepped in and offered the Urigiucs a helping hand. UNICEF is sponsoring the $2000 rehabilitation work and their partners are providing the materials and workforce necessary to carry it out.
Little Razvan has been wearing a hard hat, amusing the builders who have come to his house. They have been pouring new concrete floors and repairing the damaged walls. A new stove will also be installed in their living room. Daniela and her husband hold Razvan close, a warm family hug. They look relieved and happy that life is smiling on them again.