We Must Go On: The Babuta Family
by Iana Bejaniyska, UNICEF Consultant
After the water receded, the mud in the yard was knee-deep. When the heat wave replaced the deluge, the mud baked hard and cracks appeared all over. Seventy-year-old Maria Babuta is crying. Her pension is small and her twin granddaughters’ child benefit is insufficient to cover the costs of the flood damage. What they could salvage is drying out in the sun. Of all the rooms in the house only one is currently habitable.
Exactly when the flood struck, Maria was recovering from an operation and a long spell in hospital. To her, the nightmare caused by the water is harder to endure than the pain from the surgery. ‚At my age all I can do is pray for the safety of my beautiful grandchildren. The thought that one of the walls can collapse on top of them at any time is devastating.’
The twin girls, Adelina and Lacramioara, have been living with their granny ever since their parents separated. She fondly calls them ‚angels’ and ‚two roses’ and cannot take her eyes off them. Maria is like a mother to them. She has doted on them since they were tiny.
Even before the June disaster, they were living very modestly. The twins cannot remember when they last tasted chocolate. All their toys and books were destroyed by the flood but UNICEF has compensated their loss with new school materials.
Adelina and Lacramiora are ten. They are huddling on the bed on top of the traditional stove (soba) and doing their homework. A stranger could not tell them apart. The noise coming from next-door does not seem to bother them. It is the Habitat for Humanity volunteer team repairing the wattle and daub walls. This traditional building technique has been one of the reasons why so many houses in the area were virtually washed away by the flood. The mud bricks dissolved in the water which rose to 1.3 meters in Maria’s house.
The twins are studying hard. Granny has promised them a few rewards if they get good grades at school. They would really like some new books and a sleigh for Christmas. The two mischievous girls fancy a whistle too to entertain Maria with some music during the long winter evenings. They sense that their happiness is all that matters to their grandmother and they reciprocate her love with touching maturity.
‚We lost all our toys but we don’t really care. The important thing is that granny is out of hospital. Let’s also hope that we’ll have our house back as it was.’ The girls are always around Maria, making sure that she is all right and trying to cheer her up in every possible way. She grabs their skinny hands and kisses them with her eyes closed, shutting away the worries that have robbed her of sleep recently.