Dorohoi is a town in the far north-east of Romania, some 15 miles from a border with Ukraine. Once a county town in its own right, Dorohoi was downgraded following Romania’s loss of territory after World War I and then it became infamous during World War II for the expulsion of its Jewish residents. This area had a rich agricultural potential but it suffered from communist policies of collectivization of the farms, enforced urbanisation of the population and concentration on unsustainable industrialisation. Following the revolution of 1989 the local economy collapsed and it was estimated that at one point some 90% of the population had no formal income. The situation has improved considerably, but slowly; a current estimate suggests that some 50% of households have an inadequate level of income.
This area of Romania suffers from poor communications. It is 7 hours drive from Bucharest and 8 hours from the nearest connection with the European motorway network, in northern Hungary. Many enterprises have been set up but these are of a local nature and the only major contribution to the national economy is the growing of cereals. Since 1992 I have been involved with the transport of aid and its distribution in Dorohoi and the surrounding area. A formal charity was established in 1997 and over 4,500 families, individuals and institutions have been registered for help since then. The help offered is primarily food and clothing, with other household necessities, toys, educational materials, mobility aids and similar items. These are sourced primarily from donations of goods in the UK but with local donations from time to time. We are also able to offer limited cash help to those having problems such as medical costs, school fees and energy bills.
My picture shows the arrival of Christmas gift boxes, which will be distributed to needy families and via other institutions with which we have links. The crew is not wearing a uniform as such – it was a cold day and the first boxes off the truck contained a donation of fleeces from a large UK retailer.