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Who Will Be the Man of the House Now? The story of Fraguta Dohotaru

Fraguta Dohotaru story
© UNICEF Romania/Raluca Manta
Even though modest, Fraguta is keeping her house the neatest

by Iana Bejaniyska, UNICEF Consultant

Before the floods Fraguta Dohotaru had four children, now only three remain. Marian, her eldest, was ‘the man of the house’. His kind heart and grown-up sense of responsibility inclined him to take good care of his two younger brothers and sister. He was incredibly protective of his family. But not only. Every living thing was safe and sound around him. He was passionate about horses and spent a lot of his free time feeding and grooming them. Then he would ride them in the meadows alongside the River Jijia on the outskirts of Dorohoi. The wind whistled through his hair, a big smile on his face. In a poor depressed part of northeast Romania, this was a teenager full of confidence and joy.

Last June the river where Marian regularly watered the horses burst its banks. The muddy waters spread fast through the residential areas. The small one storey houses were the worst affected. After nearly two weeks of torrential rain at the end of June, the flood water was more than a meter high and dangerously fast. Fraguta’s bungalow looked like a toy boat at the mercy of the elements. The single mum and her four kids had to evacuate in a hurry. The emergency services of Botosani County were placing people in schools, municipal buildings and with relatives. Marian helped his mother and younger siblings to safety. Then he turned back. Fraguta begged him to stay but her devoted son insisted that he had to return to the house to rescue his dogs. He left and was never seen again. It was Monday, 28 June. The next day Marian’s body was found, making him one of six people whose life was claimed by the floods in Dorohoi.

Fraguta_Dohotaru story
© UNICEF Romania/Raluca Manta
Dreaming of better days

Two months after the disaster struck, the family is still in mourning. Fraguta is wearing black. Her younger sons and daughter do not smile much. They miss their big brother terribly. But they have not been idle. Marian never was. Even before UNICEF and Habitat for Humanity turned up on site to evaluate the family for the rehabilitation project, they had cleared the debris in the yard and cleaned up the whole house. The children helped their mum wash the floor rugs and bed mattresses. The property stands out in the street for how neat and tidy it is. Other houses still bear the marks of the flood while the Dohotarus have made a huge effort to move things on and resume normal life.

With UNICEF’s support their house has now been repaired. The main work included putting down new floors and repainting the interior. The children were given stationery for school. Fraguta is keen that they learn and do well for themselves but she has a more immediate concern. She has run out of food. Tomorrow she will serve the children measly portions from the last tin of canned meat in her cupboard and then?

In this she is not alone. Many families in Dorohoi have little or no income. They rely heavily on humanitarian aid from UNICEF and a number of charities represented in the town, ravaged by the economic crisis and natural disaster.

Fraguta Dohotaru, a single parent with a large family, is among the worst hit residents. Marian, her teenage son, was ‘the man of the house’. She lost him to the floods. Now she looks to Ricardo, her younger son. Will he be able to fill his deceased brother’s shoes? He likes horses just like Marian did.

He is just as full of life but the burden of being ‘the man of the house’ should not have to be placed upon the shoulders of someone so young. Not even a teenager yet, Ricardo has the right to a carefree childhood.




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