Shoebox gifts show care for those on the edges of society
In the summer Gabriel lives under a bridge in Timisoara, the biggest city in western Romania. In the winter he and his family return to the Roma colony in a far-flung village, to a dwelling without doors, windows, ceilings, running water or electricity.
This is what it means to live on the margins of society in Europe today. Gabriel, aged five, is one six children. His father was recently released from prison. His mother is registered as having a learning disability. His sister was taken away by social services and is now in foster care. Some of the family don’t even have birth certificates and so lack any official identity. None has ever been to school.
Presented with a shoebox from Blythswood Care, which gift did Gabriel like best? “He liked everything,” says Flavia, a social worker employed by the council and by Blythswood Banat. “The family barely has anything to eat. Sometimes the children can go without food for a whole day. They love sweets and toys.”
Last year, Blythswood’s Shoe Box Appeal resulted in 116,576 gift-filled boxes going to children and adults in eight East European countries and in Pakistan. Hundreds more – including the one received by Gabriel – were produced by donors within Romania, inspired to show care towards the poorest in their own country. We do not have to pass by on the other side.
Will you fill a box for Blythswood’s 2016 Shoe Box Appeal? A bar of soap, a pair of socks, a packet of sweets – these are practical gifts that bring joy, comfort and dignity to people in need. And not just practical but personal, too. Your box shows that someone cares. Phone 01349 830777 for an instruction leaflet now or register online at www.shoeboxappeal.org.