Gusty and his wife are a Roma couple with nine lively children. They work the seasonal cycle of many Romanian shepherds, returning to their very small home for the winter months before spending spring, summer and autumn in the fields.
Our first meeting with them was an unforgettable experience. At the time they were working for a Romanian Christian with his buffalo. Buffalo milk is prized in Romania above that produced by cows, and Gusty and his family were given a small remittance each month by the Christian for their labours.
Their house, or whatever their form of accommodation should more accurately be called, consisted of a series of tree branches and plastic sheeting. Somehow a wood-burning stove had been jumbled in, its pipe being the one protruding article above the shanty roof.
But most alarming of all was the sense of isolation. While the house’s location atop a gently sloping hill was highly scenic, it was also at least a mile from any other dwellings. Quite what would happen in the event of a medical emergency was best left unconsidered.
We have visited this family on many occasions. In summer, theirs seems an existence in Romanian paradise, with folding greens hills and trees of many different hues being their surroundings.
In late autumn, it’s a different story, with temperatures at night falling to -8 degrees centigrade on one of our visits.
Their willingness to work and labour hard in spite of their poverty has attracted support from Romanian Ministries. We give them a salary supplement each year, to encourage them and to enable them to buy food. Their children have also been attending the holiday Bible club arranged in the summer by the Christian they work for. Pray for them!