A small child stares through a frosted window, studying a freshly-fallen blanket of snow. He longs to run outside to build a snowman, but a white-coated warden tells him that he can’t, because his tattered cloth shoes are inadequate to protect his feet and keep them warm. Besides that, he’s suffering from tuberculosis, as are the other 120 children with whom he lives inside the same massive, concrete building. Their home is Cornesti Orphanage, one of 43 such state institutions scattered across Moldova, Europe’s poorest nation. Cornesti is reserved for children with TB.
Every time I’ve visited Cornesti Orphanage, I’ve found it difficult to hold back my tears. It represents the worst of underfunded state-run institutions in post-communist nations, where insufficient, underpaid staff members work against the odds to take care of rooms full of children in crumbling old buildings. Nine years ago, however, my dear friends, missionaries Ghiorghi and Cristina Cazacu, stopped for a visit at Cornesti, and they’ve since returned numerous times bringing hope, help and the gospel.
The Cazacu’s first project at Cornesti was to remodel the central gathering room where the ceiling was in danger of collapsing. Then, fresh wells were dug and water was piped into the building for the first time. Washing machines were provided.
A heating system was installed in the outer dining room so that the children could eat their winter meals in warmth. Clothing, food supplements, and school supplies have also been provided during the past nine years to make life more tolerable for the children. Every time Ghiorghi and Cristina visit, they share about Jesus.
One of the greatest needs at Cornesti is one that recurs every year. Growing children need shoes, and in the cold Moldovan winters, they need boots. So Ghiorghi and Cristina have partnered with a Christian shoe manufacturer in Moldova who provides fleece-lined leather boots at his cost, just $30 a pair. This year, every one of the children at Cornesti Orphanage received new winter boots.
The Cazacus are expanding their boot outreach this year to include 2 additional Moldovan orphanages where another 500 children live, who all suffer without adequate heat, food or clothing. So all total, at least 620 pairs of boots are needed. Because of gifts to the Heaven’s Family Mutual Fund, we’ve been blessed to invest $3,000 to that end, providing boots that will warm 1,000 toes of children whom God loves. Ghiorghi and Cristina will, of course, use the occasion of those boot distributions to proclaim the gospel. May little hearts be touched!